Pura Vida! These two words say almost say everything you need to know about the number one happiest country on the planet. The country amazes us with its beauty. The tropical rainforests burst with life. The beaches and seas are almost all desolated and beautiful in its simplicity. But we strongly believe that above all of this the Ticos, the nickname for the Costa Ricans, and their inspiring mindset is the number 1 reason that Costa Rica leads the rankings year after year. In this post 4 facts on Costa Rica you must know to understand why it is the happiest country in th world.
So, Pura Vida it is. The Ticos use this expression for many things. As an answer to ‘how you are doing’ to saying ‘thank you’ if someone brings them an Imperial beer. But, it’s so much more than an expression. It’s a way of life, a mind-set that runs to every Ticos’ veins. It is one of the most important facts on Costa Rica you need to know to understand their definition of happiness.
The Ticos have made living a peaceful, simple, uncluttered life an art.
They are very proud of their culture that is based on solid social networks with a deep appreciation of nature, family, and friends. Pura Vida! We believe this is the secret to lifelong happiness.
Costa Rica is a Central-American country and is home to the greatest density of species in the world. The GDP per capita is much less than many of the Western European and North American countries and is primarily based on tourism, agriculture, and exports. But the Ticos do have a higher wellbeing than many of the people in the ‘rich’ countries and they also live longer and are a so-called ‘blue zone’, an anthropological concept that describes the characteristic lifestyles and the environments of the world’s longest-lived people.
And the most impressive of all of this is that all of this is achieved with an Ecological Footprint that’s just one-third of the size of the USA’s. The Ticos do not only take good care of themselves, they also take good care of their part of the planet!
The Ticos do have some challenges
Not all facts on Costa Rica are positive. We have to be honest and cannot ignore that the “happiest place on earth” has, as every nation, some big challenges the Ticos have to deal with. Approximately 20% of the people live in poverty and youth unemployment around 25%. San Jose, the capital, is one of the worst air polluted cities of Latin America. Driving in Costa Rica is dangerous and their roads rank as the fourth most dangerous in the world.
In our blog ‘Why happiness in Costa Rica is a lifestyle‘, we dig much deeper into the reasons we believe Costa Rica is truly the happiest country on the globe based on our conversations with the locals. In this blog, we highlight some facts on Costa Rica defining the uniqueness of this amazing Central American country.
Facts on Costa Rica, the happiest country in the world
- The Ticos have the objective to be carbon neutral in 2021 – In 2015, the country was able to produce 99% of its electricity from renewable sources. The government continues to invest in renewable energy generation in an effort to meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021. We were able to stay at the Eco Lodge ‘Finca luna nueva’, an oasis in the midst of the tropical jungle near La Fortuna. It is both a recreational paradise and a living classroom as they call it themselves. They offer a delicious “farm to table” experience of regenerative agriculture, together with miles of hiking trails through rainforests, farmland, and herbal gardens. Not only the food over here keeps you healthy, there’s a collection of roughly 300 medicinal plants that can be plucked when strolling the farm.
- No army! – The Costa Rican military was officially disbanded by the president and noted pacifist Jose Figueres back in 1948. He felt that the money would be better spent on education health and eco-tourism. With a literacy rate of 98%— elementary education is free and mandatory — and a health system revered the world over, it’s a strategy that has had a profound effect on the Tico population. Abolishing the military had a significant impact on the people and the way they engage in conflict resolution and generally view the world. They take enormous pride in being citizens of a country that has abolished its army. There are twenty-two other countries who can lay claim to having no army, navy, or air force, but Costa Rica is the only one on the list with a population that totals over one million.
- Education first – Since 1869, public education in Costa Rica is free and mandatory for all the Tico’s. Some say that they have more teachers than policemen. nIn 2012, Costa Rica invested more in education and health as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product than for example the UK.
- Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet – Although Costa Rica is an impressive country, it is pretty small. Costa Rica is considered to possess the highest density of biodiversity of any country worldwide. With only .03 percent of the world’s landmass, Costa Rica is home to nearly 6% of the planet’s biodiversity, with over 500,000 unique species of plant and wildlife. The government has the ambition to even increase this number with over a quarter of the land already dedicated to conservation. There is an abundance of amazing conservation areas, national parks, wildlife refuges, protected zones, forest and biological reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries! Costa Rica is also a world leader when it comes to environmental protection. The Costa Rican government uses taxes collected on the sale of fossil fuels to pay for the protection of forests.