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Costa Rica's Pura Vida Lifestyle translates to Pure Happiness



By International Living

Date: 10/14/2007
Last update: EDT Oct. 24, 2008

Costa Rica's trademark phrase pura vida translates to "absolute life" or "100% life." It's the phrase most commonly used in this country where living life to the fullest and remaining happy in all circumstances is key. This way of life, according to a study of global happiness and ecological impact, makes Costa Rica one of the happiest places in the world.

The study is the Happy Planet Index, compiled by British research organization the New Economics Foundation (NEF). This year it rates Costa Rica third in a global ranking of countries with "happy" citizens. The study takes into account life satisfaction, life expectancy, and "ecological footprint"—the amount of land needed to sustain the population and counter consumption.

On a scale of 0 to 100, Costa Rica earned an index of 66 (third). Overall, the study indicates that Costa Rica has one of the world's lowest ecological footprints and a higher-than-average life expectancy.

Numbers one and two on the Happy Planet Index are Vanuatu and Colombia, respectively. The U.S. came in 150th. Happy Planet Full Index and how is calculated.

Other Latin American countries ranked in the index's top 10, including Panama (fifth), Cuba (sixth), Honduras (seventh), Guatemala (eighth) and El Salvador (ninth). Researchers say that Central America is the region with the highest average score in the index.

"The region combines relatively good life expectancy (an average of 70 years) and high life satisfaction, with an ecological footprint below its globally equitable share," says the NEF. The agency adds: "Central America has had a notorious history of conflict and political instability, but the last 15 years have been relatively peaceful, which perhaps, with traditionally high levels of community engagement, explain its success."

The NEF created the Happy Planet Index to counter systems that rate nations according to national income. The agency says it wants to show that people can live long, happy lives with a minimal impact on the Earth. You can find out more about the NEF here.

Your Latin America Insider,

Suzan Haskins


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