In the most recent report from the Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica topped the list as the “happiest nation.” The index is based on a variety factors such as life expectancy and the environmental impact of a country. With the second highest life expectancy (Canada is first) and the highest life satisfaction, it was no wonder that Costa Rica was first on the list. When asked to rate their own happiness, Costa Ricans rated themselves an average of 8.5 on a 10-point scale. United States came in 20th for this raking at 7.5. The last on this list was Tanzania at 2.6. Not only did the United States rank lower on life satisfaction, but overall on the Happy Planet Index as well similarly to many developed nations. The United States came in at 114th while the Britain ranked 74th and Zimbabwe came in last. Latin American countries definitely dominated the list with the Dominican Republic coming in second followed by Jamaica, Guatemala, and Vietnam.
Costa Rica was also the country closest to the idea of “one-planet living.” This idea is that every country only consumes its fair share of the Earth’s natural resources. This is why many of the developed countries were so far down the list; their carbon footprint was much too large. With an ecological footprint that is less than a quarter of the United States, Costa Rica shows the world that people can have high life satisfaction and live a long life, but do so not at the expense of Mother Nature.