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Small, Green, Happy, Unbellicose

Aggiornamento: 7 mag 2023

Where is the happiest country in the world? Surprisingly, not in Scandinavia but in Central America. The Happy Planet Index of 2021 ranked Costa Rica first out of 152 countries due to the high life-expectancy of its inhabitants combined with a low ecological footprint. Is this sustainable well-being the real secret of the Costa Ricans’ happiness? Sarah Scott and her family went to see with their own eyes. Their journey to the country of happiness was also “a granted wish”, made possible by the “Make-a-Wish” foundation.

Long delayed because of the Covid pandemic, the trip finally took place in February 2023 and, even if it lasted only a week, was a really amazing time for the whole family. They discovered a country full of rainforests, waterfalls and volcanoes, with an extremely rich biodiversity. We learned that the tiny nation boasts over 500,000 species of wildlife, as well as a surprising number of national parks and natural reserves. The country is considered a pioneer of sustainable tourism, although it has not always been like that. In the past deforestation was a blight. Costa Ricans managed to reverse the trend by re-planting the rainforest. Can we learn something from them…?

Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

The highlight of Sarah’s trip was Tortuguero National Park. Situated far away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city, San José, and only accessible by boat, the park proved to be a real paradise for nature lovers. The family spent unforgettable hours there. Not only were the views stunning and the wildlife superabundant but the welcome of the local people warm and their food delicious.

A simple, relaxed lifestyle, in contact with unspoiled nature… Is that the real secret of Costa Rica’s happiness? Sarah pointed out that Nicaragua, a neighbouring country, has similar landscapes but no Costa Ricans would like to live amongst them. Why is that? Is it because of the Costa Rican government’s decision to get rid of a permanent army and invest more money in education and health care? Or is it because Costa Rica is one of the most politically stable countries in Central America? Maybe there isn’t just one secret but a combination of factors.

We can learn a few lessons from this small country: from the preservation of the natural environment to the promotion of peace, education and health. Many thanks, Sarah and Amy, for sharing your experience in the country of happiness with us!

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