My father spent nearly a decade working for the United Fruit Company in Costa Rica, and I grew up hearing enchanting tales of the jungles and wildlife he encountered there. Costa Rica seemed magical. So I am not surprised to learn that Costa Rica is the happiest and most environmentally friendly place on earth. That’s what a British environmental group reports after examining 143 countries with 99 percent of the world’s population.
The New Economics Foundation devised an equation that weighed life expectancy and people’s happiness against their environmental impact. By that formula, Costa Rica is the happiest, greenest country in the world. The Central American country, located between Nicaragua and Panama, prizes its lush rain forests and pristine beaches. It’s no wonder that Costa Ricans have a life expectancy of 78.5 years and 85 percent of the country’s residents say they are satisfied with their lives. Furthermore, Costa Rica is peaceful. It does not have an army, and its president, Oscar Arias Sanchez, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for trying to help end civil wars in other Central American countries.
See photo of a Costa Rican rain forest at right. For more pictures of Costa Rica, check out this CNN link: www.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/getaways/06/23/travel.snaps.costa.rica/index.html
Of course, growing up in Jamaica wasn’t such a bad bargain. The survey lists Jamaicans among the happiest people on earth, right after the Dominican Republic, Australia, Guatemala and Vietnam.
In contrast, Britain came in at 74th place and the United States at 114th. America’s ranking is ironic when you consider the relentless cable TV chatter about the danger of America becoming “like Europe.” European countries – even Slovakia and Georgia – placed way ahead of the U.S. in the happiness survey. And it goes without saying that Canada ranked among the survey’s top scorers. I guess the “Socialist” lifestyle isn’t as scary as we’ve been hearing, eh?
You can read the NEF report for yourself at: