What makes Costa Rica the happiest nation on earth according to the HPI is actually far more complicated than just a few simple smiles and friendly handshakes here and there.
Costa Rica often has topped the list of the Happy Planet Index on multiple occasions due to its high life expectancy, progressive welfare programs and its relatively low ecological footprint. The 25% of land reserved as national parks, and the universal health care programs are two places where Costa Rica shines in this department. The likelihood of living a happy and fulfilled life are greater in the conditions that Costa Rica provides.
Along with the HPI, Costa Rica also finds itself in the second position according to Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index next to Panama. This leads many to the clear conclusion that the region has a penchant on health and living well. It also brings investors. Costa Rica has leveraged its HPI rating against creating vital infrastructure, and by doing so is bringing in many interested parties.
The largest contributing factor to the country’s economy are staples of tourism and agriculture, but a desire to diversify the economy with technological, medical and customer service industries is evident. The education system in Costa Rica has been geared toward bringing in foreign investment in these thriving industries, and the government is also seeking to strengthen its ties with companies operating internationally out of Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has cornered much of the pineapple market in Europe and the United States, and it produces nearly 80% of the exports to these major international markets. Coffee is also a very strong export from Costa Rica, although to a lesser degree than bananas and pineapples. The Costa Rican Institute of Coffee (ICAFE) says that it plans on increasing its annual production in the 200-year-old industry to 130,000 tons which pales in comparison to other large coffee firms. However, ICAFE wants to focus more on quality rather than quantity.
These elements have led to major deals with international companies including APM Terminals which is a Dutch company that has come to Costa Rica to work on the port in Limón. The company has an estimated $1 billion in renovations to Puerto Limón shipping from the Country’s main port. The increased loading and unloading space will be the cornerstone of Limón’s revitalization, and the new port will allow for a greater level of global participation.
All of this economic and marketing incentive spills over and is backed up by the institutions in Costa Rica. The University of Costa Rica has time and again proved itself to be the predominant university of Central America, and its initiatives in improving the science departments and providing its students with the best facilities are paying off. The focus on sciences extends to the ecosystem, nanotechnology and robotics among others.
Several factors are contributing to the overall well-being of the people of Costa Rica, and the economy is being strengthened as a result.