Costa Rica, the happiest country in the world


By Andrés Bustos from Costa Rica, Intern at WYALA

Last year, Costa Rica was named the happiest country in the world according to the Happy Planet Index[1]. Among the elements cited in the report are the well-being of citizens, their life expectancy and their ecological footprint. The report did not measure other variables such as education, health and human development.

One of the reasons why Costa Rica is at the top of the index is that people live long lives in a simple and sustainable way. The country is one of the “blue zones” of the world—which means a kind of region where the inhabitants live longer than the rest of their fellow citizens in similar economic conditions and where they live even longer than the people of developed countries[2]. Besides Costa Rica, there are four more blue zones in the world ﴾Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Loma Linda in California and Ikaria in Greece﴿[3].

Costa Rica’s “blue zone” is located on the Peninsula of Nicoya in the northern part of the country[4]. The area has many pristine beaches, beautiful national parks and most of the people there live more than 100 years. Nevertheless, this kind of report leads us to wonder how happiness can be measured. It prompts us to question if there is any reliable way to determine whether a country is really happy and what determines the ‘’state of mind’’ of a country, and furthermore, how happiness might impact the dignity of the human being.

The case could be simple or complex. Given the fact that happiness is an intangible element of our lives, people can appreciate it in different ways. Every country has its own way, its own world view, and its own happiness. Some may agree or not with the measure of happiness, with the methodology or even with the whole idea of an index of happiness.

Certainly, there is no doubt about the fact that when a country invests in its population there will be a corresponding impact on quality of life. But the recognition of dignity as a person’s intrinsic value goes beyond any attempt to quantify happiness. Therefore, when the human being is recognized as the key player in development, dignity is reaffirmed as the value that everyone possesses.

This dignity must be embraced in a comprehensive way, and with the understanding that real happiness comes when the human being is seen as the holder of intrinsic value. Undoubtedly, the experience of dignity in our lives everyday allows us to understand the meaning of happiness. Dignity belongs to every person independent of any individual condition, and in this way, we can say that we are the happiest when we recognize the value of the person.

Now, I would like to know your opinion:

Is this kind of ‘’happiness index’’ a valid model for you?

What would you include or exclude in it?

In your point of view, how is happiness related to dignity?

[1] Taken from

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[4] Taken from