Costa Rica

Why Is Costa Rica One of the World’s Happiest Countries?

June 13, 2023
Carolina Barrientos Carolina Barrientos
Why Is Costa Rica One of the World’s Happiest Countries?

In a world where happiness and well-being are cherished goals, one country consistently shines as a beacon of contentment: Costa Rica. Every year, the highly anticipated World Happiness Report (WHR) released by the United Nations unveils the countries that excel in the happiness index. And without fail, Costa Rica consistently shines as one of the top contenders. What is truly intriguing is that despite having one of the lowest GDPs among the top 20 countries in the world, Costa Rica firmly proves that happiness cannot be bought with wealth alone. The nation pulses with an electrifying zest for life that captivates visitors and locals alike. While Costa Rica may not claim the coveted #1 spot on the WHR, the question, “Why is Costa Rica the happiest country in the world?” continues to echo fervently, fueling the curiosity of those seeking to uncover the secrets behind its enduring joy.  

Nestled in Central America, this tropical paradise has earned a reputation as one of the happiest places on earth. But what makes Costa Rica so unique? What underlying factors contribute to the blissful smiles and vibrant spirit of its people? This article will delve into the essence of Costa Rica’s happiness, exploring the historical, cultural, and environmental elements shaping the nation into a true haven of well-being.   

happiest country in the world

Happiness Index of Costa Rica   

Costa Rica consistently ranks high in the World Happiness Report, reflecting the country’s exceptional levels of happiness and well-being. In the most recent report, Costa Rica secured a commendable position, reflecting the contentment and satisfaction of its people. The ranking considers several factors such as GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption. The country’s consistently strong performance in these metrics highlights the emphasis on social welfare, strong community bonds, and an overall positive outlook on life. The high ranking in the World Happiness Report is a testament to Costa Rica’s success in prioritizing the well-being and happiness of its citizens. All these factors are essential things to know before moving to Costa Rica to ensure a good living. 

Happy Planet Index Ranking 

Costa Rica also stands out in the Happy Planet Index, which evaluates countries based on their sustainable development and well-being. The Happy Planet Index considers factors such as ecological footprint, life expectancy, and life satisfaction to determine a country’s ranking. Costa Rica has consistently achieved impressive rankings in this index, showcasing its commitment to sustainability and well-being. The country’s dedication to preserving its natural resources, reducing carbon emissions, and promoting sustainable and regenerative tourism has made it a global leader in sustainable living. The high ranking in the Happy Planet Index reflects the country’s efforts to achieve a harmonious balance between human well-being and environmental preservation. By prioritizing sustainability and embracing a holistic approach to development, Costa Rica sets an inspiring example for other nations striving to create a happier and more sustainable future for their citizens. 

Costa Rica – World Happiness Index (2013 – 2022)  

Over the past decade, Costa Rica has cemented its status as a bastion of happiness, as evidenced by its consistent performance in the World Happiness Index. From 2013 to 2022, Costa Rica has consistently ranked among the happiest countries in the world, captivating the attention of researchers and happiness enthusiasts worldwide.  

During this period, the country’s unwavering commitment to well-being has shone through, surpassing many countries with significantly higher GDPs. Despite facing various global challenges, Costa Rica has continuously embraced its unique blend of natural beauty, exotic diversity of flora and fauna, sustainable practices, and vibrant community spirit to cultivate a sense of happiness that transcends material wealth.  

As we explore the annual rankings and trends reflected in the World Happiness Index, we witness Costa Rica’s enduring presence among the top performers. Discover the remarkable consistency and unwavering happiness that has made this Central American gem a true inspiration for those seeking a fulfilling and joyful life. 

Costa Rica – World Happiness Index 

Costa Rica – World Happiness Index (2013 – 2022) 
Date World Happiness Ranking World Happiness Index 
2022 23º 6.582 
2021 16º 7.069 
2020 15º 7.121 
2019 12º 7.167 
2018 13º 7.072 
2017 12º 7.079 
2016 14º 7.087 
2015 12º 7.226 
2013 12º 7.257 

Top 10 Reasons Why Costa Rica is One of the Happiest Countries in the World   

What factors contribute to Costa Rica’s reputation as a happy country in the world, characterized by smiling faces, warm-hearted people, and unparalleled contentment? As we explore the vibrant tapestry of this remarkable country, we uncover seven compelling reasons. Here they are –   

  1. Pura Vida Philosophy: The renowned “Pura Vida” philosophy permeates every aspect of Costa Rican life. This simple yet profound mantra encourages a positive outlook, appreciation for life’s blessings, and a laid-back attitude that prioritizes well-being and happiness over material wealth.  
  1. Connection with Nature: The lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and diverse ecosystems provide Ticos abundant opportunities to connect with nature. Spending time outdoors, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, has been scientifically proven to improve mental health and overall happiness.  
  1. Sustainable Living: Costa Rica has become a global leader in sustainable living. The country is committed to renewable energy sources, conservation efforts, and protecting its natural resources. This dedication to sustainable practices creates a sense of pride among Costa Ricans and contributes to their overall happiness and well-being.  
  1. Social Support Networks: The country boasts a strong sense of community and social support networks. The emphasis on family values, close-knit neighborhoods, and interconnected communities fosters a support system that promotes happiness, belonging, and a sense of security.  
  1. Health and Well-being: Costa Rica prioritizes health and well-being through its robust healthcare system and emphasis on preventive care. Universal healthcare coverage ensures that Costa Ricans have access to quality medical services, contributing to their overall happiness, physical and mental well-being, and peace of mind.  
  1. Work-Life Balance: Costa Ricans value a healthy work-life balance. The country has a shorter workweek than many other nations, allowing ample time for leisure, hobbies, and spending quality time with loved ones. This balance contributes to reduced stress levels and higher overall satisfaction.  
  1. Positive Social and Political Environment: Costa Rica’s commitment to democracy, peace, and stability has created a positive social and political environment. The absence of the military since 1948 and their focus on education and social welfare have fostered a sense of security, equality, and social progress, which are essential components of happiness.  
  1. Nourishing, Fresh Food: Costa Ricans prioritize healthy eating with abundant fresh, organic, and unprocessed foods. The Costa Rica diet often revolves around fiber-rich beans, rice, and a colorful array of tropical fruits and vegetables. In contrast to diets high in dairy, red meat, refined sugar, and processed foods, which can contribute to mood swings, Costa Ricans’ wholesome dietary choices promote a balanced and positive outlook.  
  1. Embracing a Relaxed Tropical Lifestyle: Here, the pace of life slows down to match the tranquil rhythm of the tropical paradise. Ticos emphasize savoring every moment amidst stunning beaches, lush mountains, and fascinating wildlife. Moreover, the warm and welcoming climate of Costa Rica itself can uplift spirits and bring about spontaneous smiles, as the influence of weather on mood is acknowledged and embraced.  
  1. Home to a Blue Zone – Nicoya Peninsula: The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica is a renowned Blue Zone, known for its inhabitants with some of the highest life expectancies globally. Their active lifestyle, strong social connections, and rich, fresh, locally produced diet contribute to their longevity and overall well-being. The deep sense of purpose derived from their association with nature, family, and community fosters a profound sense of belonging and meaning, adding to their happiness and contentment. The Nicoya Peninsula – Blue Zone in Costa Rica, exemplifies Costa Rica’s commitment to longevity and well-being.  
happiest place on earth

What Sets Costa Rica Apart?   

Nestled in the heart of Central America, Costa Rica has garnered global attention for its exceptional achievements and unique approach to societal progress. Discover how this great nation is rewriting the rules and inspiring the world with its unwavering commitment to education, environmental stewardship, and social welfare.  

  1. Investing in Education: Costa Rica has made substantial investments in education, allocating a significant portion of its budget to ensure quality education for its citizens. The country strongly emphasizes primary education, with a literacy rate of 98%. This commitment to education has paved the way for a knowledgeable and skilled workforce, contributing to the country’s economic growth and overall well-being.  
  1. Fostering Political Stability: Costa Rica stands out for its long-standing political stability; you can get evidence for this in the brief history of Costa Rica. Since 1949, the country has abolished its military and redirected its resources toward social welfare, education, and healthcare. This commitment to peace and stability has allowed the residents to live in a secure environment, fostering trust in institutions and providing a solid foundation for the country’s success.   
  1. Protecting the Environment: Costa Rica has made impressive strides in environmental conservation. The country has implemented policies to protect its rich biodiversity, setting aside a quarter of its land as national parks, reserves, and protected areas. This dedication to preserving nature ensures the sustainability of Costa Rica’s ecosystems and attracts eco-tourism, contributing to the country’s economy and well-being.  
  1. Promoting Renewable Energy: Being a global leader in renewable energy production, the country has harnessed its abundant natural resources, such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power, to generate clean energy. Costa Rica runs entirely on renewable energy, emphasizing its commitment to sustainable development and reducing its carbon footprint.  
  1. Embracing Social Welfare: Costa Rica has established a comprehensive social welfare system that provides universal healthcare and social security coverage. This commitment to social welfare ensures that Costa Ricans have access to essential healthcare services and a safety net during times of need. This inclusive approach to well-being contributes to the overall happiness and security of the population, making Costa Rica one of the happiest places on earth. 
book villa firenze


Costa Rica’s status as one of the happiest countries in the world results from a harmonious blend of factors that contribute to the well-being and contentment of its people. From the pervasive Pura Vida philosophy to the strong connection with nature, sustainable living practices, and supportive social networks, Costa Rica has created an environment that fosters happiness and high quality of life.  

The country’s impressive rankings in the World Happiness Report and the Happy Planet Index further validate the success of its approach. Its commitment to social welfare, strong community bonds, sustainable development, and environmental conservation sets an inspiring example for the world.  

Costa Rica teaches us that true happiness goes beyond material wealth and embraces a holistic view of well-being. It reminds us of the importance of nurturing relationships, prioritizing health and nature, and striving for a sustainable future.  

So, let us carry the spirit of Pura Vida in our hearts, embracing a positive outlook, appreciating life’s blessings, and seeking happiness in the simple joys of everyday living. By doing so, we can all contribute to making our world a happier and more fulfilling place for everyone. 

Related blogs

Sep 14 Important Things to Know about Working Remotely from Costa Rica

Costa Rica, Vacation

Important Things to Know about Working Remotely from Costa Rica

In a world undergoing a remarkable transformation, the very nature of work is being redefined. As high-speed internet link...

Read More Read More
May 22 Top Seven Natural Wonders of Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Top Seven Natural Wonders of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a paradise renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and incredible biodiversity. Nestled between the Pac...

Read More Read More
Oct 19 Comprehensive Traveler’s Handbook to Santa Teresa, Puntarenas Province  

Costa Rica

Comprehensive Traveler’s Handbook to Santa Teresa, Puntarenas Province  

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, is a hidden gem nestled along the Pacific coast, drawing travelers from all corners of the world...

Read More Read More