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Theme Country: Costa Rica

Costa Rica – the world’s happiest country with no army.

Costa Rica literally meaning “Rich Coast”, officially the Republic of Costa Rica (Spanish: República de Costa Rica), is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island.

According to the most recent Happy Planet Index, published last month, which aims to measure human well-being and environmental impact, Costa Rica is the most satisfying place in which to live. It also plans to become carbon neutral by 2021

The constitution of this peace-loving nation has forbidden a standing army since 1949 and it is now the home of the United Nations University for Peace.

Life expectancy in Costa Rica is an impressive 79 years, higher than all of its Central American neighbours. One region in particular, the Nicoya Peninsula, is known for longevity. Its residents frequently live beyond 100 years of age, with the simple lifestyle – Nicoyans usually make a living farming or on cattle ranches – is said to be responsible.

Literacy rate of Costa Rica is 97.8 per cent to be precise, placing it in the top 40 countries worldwide.

Costa Rica hosts five per cent of the world’s biodiversity, even though it makes up just 0.03 per cent of the planet. Around a quarter of the country is part of a protected forest or reserve.

It’s the world’s hummingbird capital With 52 different species.

It is also home to many other birds, including the country’s largest populations of quetzals – a species once sacred to the Mayans, who considered their feathers more valuable than gold – and more than 500 types of orchid.

The preservation of the cloud forest and its communities is largely due to a group of Quakers (Society of Friends) who left the US in 1951 to start a new life, buying and farming land locally and creating a reserve in 1972 without the usual backing of national or large international bodies. This first reserve spawned many subsequent parks and created a thriving and sustainable destination.