With more than 85% stating that they are happy with their country Costa Ricans report the highest life satisfaction in the world. Life expectancy is 78.5 years (slightly higher than the US and the 2nd highest average life expectancy in the New World), Costa Rica has the 5th lowest human poverty index in the developing world and the country is nearly perfectly balanced between consumption and preservation of natural resources.
This is not a matter of chance. Costa Rica is a haven of democracy and has taken deliberate steps to reduce its environmental impact. Unique in the world for combining its energy and environmental ministries back in the 70's, 99% of its energy comes from renewable sources. Deforestation has been reversed and forests cover twice as much land as 20 years ago.
Professor Mariano Rojas, a Costa Rican economist at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Mexico, is unsurprised by his country's performance and adds a few further explanations: the abolition of the country's army in 1949, freeing up government money to spend on social programs, solid social networks of friends, families and a sensible work-life balance, rich natural capital, equal treatment of women and strong political participation.
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