Costa Rica is the greenest and happiest country in the world, according to a new list that ranks nations by combining measures of their ecological footprint with the happiness of their citizens.

Britain is only halfway up the Happy Planet Index (HPI), calculated by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), in 74th place of 143 nations surveyed. The United States features in the 114th slot in the table. The top 10 is dominated by countries from Latin America, while African countries bulk out the bottom of the table.

The HPI measures how much of the Earth's resources nations use and how long and happy a life their citizens enjoy as a result. First calculated in 2006, the second edition adds data on almost all the world's countries and now covers 99% of the world's population.

"The HPI suggests that the path we have been following is, without exception, unable to deliver all three goals: high life satisfaction, high life expectancy and 'one-planet living'," says Saamah Abdallah, NEF researcher and the report's lead author. "Instead we need a new development model that delivers good lives that don't cost the Earth for all."

Costa Ricans top the list because they report the highest life satisfaction in the world, they live slightly longer than Americans, yet have an ecological footprint that is less than a quarter the size. The country only narrowly fails to achieve the goal of what NEF calls "one-planet living": consuming its fair share of the Earth's natural resources.

COMMENT: There may come a time when Mexican border patrols will be busier than the US patrols as they try to stem the tide of liberal Americans illegally migrating south to make better lives for themselves.

Thanks to Cathy for bringing my attention to this article.



  1. The bride already knows Spanish quite well, so we have a head start….. I can’t convince her to go to Costa Rica, and now it’s getting expensive because it’s been “discovered.” As I’ve mentioned before, the earth can support only 1.5-2 billion people AT MOST if you want sustainable living, where the earth can replace what we consume in food and renewable materials. A whole lot of people are going to have to exit stage left to make that work. There’s the rub…..

  2. A whole lot of people are going to have to exit stage left

    I suggest the US, Russia, India and China. A simple solution. World saved.

  3. One of my very best friends is planning to spend August in Costa Rica looking at emigrating there. I am not a candidate, they want well off Americans not the poor. Can’t say I blame them.

    It might be well to not assume so much MP, my buddy is a radical rigth winger. His interest in leaving is a in part caused by a perception that the bad, evil, liberals are winning.


  4. The problem, MP, is that they are the ones with all the guns, so I suspect it will be the third world that gets a bit leaner. The tragedy is that this IS going to happen, somehow. We plunge forward, despoiling the earth and fishing many ocean species into near- or complete extinction, we destroy the natural forests that replenish the very oxygen we need to survive, and we still pollute to a fare-thee-well, all because we can’t make ourselves do the things that might save us – well, some of us.

    The population crunch WILL happen. It could be the result of a UN agreement that every nation would have to adopt population reduction goals, or it could be the result of resource wars, mass starvation, or massively fatal pandemics like SARS, avian flu, or something we don’t even know about yet. Look at all the huge third world cities, often mostly millions of people jammed into unspeakably inadequate slums with no clean water, and no modern medical care. If something like SARS or the avian flu gets going in there, and just a few people get out to travel on planes to other third world cities, the death toll could be in the billions before it’s over. And the first world would not be protected. Our medical care systems are sized to minimize empty hospital beds, so in a pandemic, there wouldn’t be care available for more than 1-2% of a country’s population. Nature WILL find a balance; we can work with nature, or we can go on with what we’re doing now….and live with the consequences. Word verification is “disjoi” – I would certainly think so…..

  5. I agree with your comments entirely. Although perhaps we could help nature along. I’m certainly trying to under the OCICBW… campaign slogan, “Start a war and save the planet!”

  6. First we would have to hire and train border patrols. We do not have any. Someone else has a very keen eye on the border at the moment. They are the most powerful nation in the world, and yet, not even they can control it!

  7. Just think, Dah-veed. All you have to do is admit the truth that you are Central American and you will be one of the happiest people in the world. (And, no, you are not already, you are as big a grouch as the rest of us – so don’t bother replying with such tosh).

  8. Wars pollute a lot. A nuclear war will certainly reduce the population, probably of India and Pakistan mostly. But the rest of us are all eventually down wind. Strontium (sp) 90 gets into the milk and the babies die. It does not care about your ethnicity or economic status.

    HIV-AIDS is killing Africa. The average ages in many of the affected countries is plunging.

    We need solutions now and instead we get the lunatic competition between China, USA, India and Japan to produce the next video game fad. USA continues to crank out lawyers instead of engineers, China continues to unravel and India is not far behind. Japan is imploding so fast it is now the second largest source of illegal immigrants to the US and is rising in Canada.

    What do we get from Europe? Sniping, wine (some good at least) and elitism. Not all European snobbery is aimed at the US. Ask any Japanese business man who has been there.

    I know God love us but sometimes I think divine patience must get rather thin. Mayhaps our prayer should not say, “give us our daily bread” but rather “do not give us what we deserve.”


  9. It’s the Americans that refuse to sign the treaties, not the Europeans. And the snobbery thing is in your imagination. You are jealous of our culture and history and project this onto us in the form of claims of snobbery. Actually, Europeans are not snobbish about culture, it’s just there. It would be like an Arab being snobbish about sand. And most of the stuff we like nowadays comes from the US. It all boils down to US martyr syndrome that you have evolved over the years to mask your own feelings of guilt for all the shit you and your Russian friends caused since the second world war. IMAO!

  10. “And the snobbery thing is in your imagination. You are jealous of our culture and history and project this onto us in the form of claims of snobbery.”

    LOL, yeah, point made. By the bye, I have been there…


  11. These things change very quickly, Tracie. Their banks crashed, a volcano erupted and Bjork hasn’t released anything decent for years – it all adds up.

  12. No, Jim. You have taken one sentence and ignored what followed. Of course, if you behaved like that when you visited us they probably weren’t being snobbish, they probably just wanted to avoid you.

  13. Their banks crashed, a volcano erupted and Bjork hasn’t released anything decent for years – it all adds up.

    That woman who claimed she was sleeping with elves still seemed pretty happy last heard of.