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Why Costa Rica Tops the Happiness Index


Why Costa Rica Tops the Happiness Index

Lisa Gale Garrigues

A child growing up in the Costa Rican countryside is surrounded by some of the most beautiful and biodiverse landscapes in the world. The government of this tiny Central American country aims to keep it that way. But preserving this land of tropical rainforests isn’t Costa Rica’s only accomplishment. The government ensures all citizens have access to health care and education, and the country actively promotes peace around the world.

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A Wonderful nation. Let’s just hope they can survive the US intervention 2.0 in the region. With our backing of utterly corrupt juntas in Columbia, Guatemala and Brazil, and our attempt to destabilize and colonize Venezuela, we could soon see central and South America soaked in blood, just as they were during the “dirty war” years of the Reagan administration.
Why do you think neocons in this nation are all for Donnie’s wall? They know that there New/old policy will create an enormous goddamn refugee porblem, and that we will need to fortify the southern border or potentially be overrun by a hundred million people fleeing the new “dirty war”
A small nation like Costa Rica could get trampled in a scenario such as this. In the 80’s we were supposedly fighting commies down there. Now we’re just trying to destabilize the entire region in the hope of delaying the Chinese from moving in and taking their natural resources.
The 21st century resource wars are about to begin in earnest.

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Please do NOT let Oil be found there and please do not let John Bolton read this report.



HI SuspiraDeprofundis: Don’t worry, I don’t think Mr. Bolton is a man who reads. : )



I was certain he had read Mein Kampf.



“Top 20 countries for sustainable happiness”

Why would anyone from no 3, 10 and 17 wanna seek asylum in a country ranking 114?

Even more so, why would anyone want asylum in no 114 when they can get it in no 2?

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HI SuspiraDeFundis-----ohhhh yes he probably did read that one! : 0



Isn’t watching FOX (faux noise) tantamount to reading Mein Kampf, or at least the CliffsNotes ?

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Costa Rica used to be a miserable Latin American dictatorship, until it got rid of its military. The transformation was almost miraculous. A somewhat similar transformation, albeit less dramatic, is going on in Panama, which recently also got rid of its military.
Imagine what the US would be like if it got rid of its military and half of its white retrograde racist ignorant white population!

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What happened to Denmark, claimed as the purported Happiest Nation about a year ago?

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That distinction circulates among Scandinavian nations, Costa Rica, and Bhutan. No other countries can compete.

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True - but that was 70 years ago - they are one of the most stable democracies in the world.

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This article is about sustainable happiness where only 1/3 of the index is based on the happiness of the people, 1/3 is based on life expectancies, and 1/3 is based on the environmental footprint. Costa Rico does well by this because around 99% of their energy comes from renewables and they have a life expectancy of 80 years old, and their citizens are the happiest in Latin America. So they are very balanced and thus take the award here.

If you just want to look at the happiest people then you should go to the Gallup World Happiness Report. It is at

There you will find that Finland comes out on top, followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland. Costa Rica comes in at 13th out of 156 countries which of course is terrific considering how much richer all of the countries above it are. (The U.S. comes out in 18th place)



Are Costa Ricans happy about the fact that our species appears to be “on the road” to extinction soon?



Costa Rica has achieved a lot with respect to social programs and sustainable electricity. The lack of a military is a model that should be embraced worldwide.

However, 99% of Costa Rica’s electricity, not 99% of its overall energy, comes from renewable resources. That is still pretty awesome, but there continues to be room for improvement since transportation continues to be, primarily, fossil fuel based (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/05/costa-rica-renewable-energy-oil-cars). Also, like all of Latin America, deeply embedded racism and discrimination continues to persist against Afro-Latinos and Indigenous peoples. While there is no Costa Rican military, the Costa Rican government allows for coordinated operations with the US Southern Command (https://truthout.org/articles/southern-command-in-costa-rica-us-occupation-disguised-as-humanitarian-aid/).

As we look to Costa Rica for the positive examples it shows, we also need to acknowledge its shortcomings.



#2 Mexico?
#3 Colombia?
… sure it’s not the Haplessness Index?



Thanks for the correction. I had read some articles that basically made the same mistake I did and I mindlessly passed that along - but you’re obviously correct that transportation would make that figure clearly incorrect. (and in fact total fossil fuel use in Costa Rica is actually going up since they have more vehicles on the road as they’ve become more well-to-do as a country).



I really do admire Costa Rica and what they have achevied. No doubt about that. My objection is with whatever crackpot methodology the creators of this index used to come up with their rankings. I mean Mexico and Bangladesh in the top 10?? Two countries that everyone is doing their best to get out of. And not a single Scandinavian country. Really??



Costa Rica is a job-offshoring colony. It’s relative lack of exploitable natural resources is its saving grace. They don’t have much of what anyone wants, and what they do have is already in private corporate hands. Arias is a devoted neoliberal, but he’s been clever about using his country as a magnet for American jobs. And that has brought him much goodwill and protection. But make no mistake: CR does have a military. It’s called the US Army. And a long as they require full military support from the US, they will never be truly independent. Arias sold Costa Rica’s nationhood in order to purchase safety in a neoliberal age. Maybe the smart move, but for Americans who have seen a large number of decent jobs get sucked down there the past two or so decades, our thoughts of that place aren’t quite as fond.



I wondered about the outdated information in this article, and then saw that was published in the winter 2010 issue of YES magazine, as stated in the author’s info at the bottom. Oscar Arias has not been president of the country since 2010, and CAFTA was passed in Costa Rica years ago, not recently, as one would think if you read it as a current article. The Happy Planet Index chart is also dated, from 2016, as stated at the bottom of it.
The reason cars are only permitted in downtown San Jose on certain days, depending on license plate number, is not due to environmental concern, but rather to the huge increase in auto ownership in CR in recent years. Downtown traffic in SJ is like rush hour all day long–it moves at a snail’s pace, so they had to do something to curb the number of cars on the street.
Costa Rica becoming carbon neutral by 2021 is a pipe dream. A worthwhile goal, but still a pipe dream.