The people of Costa Rica must be proud of a recent news item which said that in the latest survey conducted by the New economic foundation Costa Rica came first as an ideal country and the people there the happiest from among 151 countries surveyed. Everyone who read the news must be curious to know what is taking place there to make it such an Utopian country especially when the world is getting more and more restless and unkindly.
Costa Rica is a small country in the Central America with an area of twenty thousand miles and a population of 4,6 Million. In the 18th century it was one of the poorest among the Central American Nations and people sparsely inhabited there. In early 19th century, settlers planted coffee in large scale and made the first export item from there. Costa Rica, thru its history remained largely a peaceful country and it could keep off from destructive wars except for a couple of times. The latest one was in1948 when rebels took up arms against the Government.
The New economic foundation which conducted the survey is actually giving a new definition to the Governance and well being of a nation distinct from the general perception of amassing money and living in luxury. The foundation thinks that People irrespective of cast, creed or country desire a long life with peace and contentment and the country which extends most of the facilities to fulfill such longings of the people is considered foremost in the Happy planet index.
The life expectancy of Costa Rica is 79 years, more than that of U.S.A. The country has one of the best Health-care systems in the world, named ‘Caja’ which might oversee the Hospital expenses of the people with minimum cost, about one- tenth of what would cost in advanced countries. The emergency treatment is free and the standard of health care is on a par with any advanced country. In fact Medical tourism is a growing business there.
The Costa Rican Government gives high priority for education which is free at the primary level. The high standard of education also prepares the student for the green and peaceful life that the country has adopted.
The Government of Costa Rica thinks so. It is taking utmost care in preserving its eco-system including the tropical rain forests. There was rapid deforestation in the seventies for logging, agriculture and cattle ranching which resulted in reducing the forest area from 73% to 21% and to reverse the trend and preserve the forests Government prohibited cutting trees, exporting timber and misusing the forests otherwise. With rigorous reforestation afterwards 50% land could be reclaimed in to forest area now. The combined efforts of the Government and the people have made Costa Rica like a big garden with meadows, trees, waterfalls and flowers spread all over the country with long dazzling beach on both sides. Nature has a way of kindling peace and happiness and a certain share of happiness comes from the scenic beauty all around..
The Government attaches great importance to peace both inside and outside of the country. Unlike in any other country there is a Ministry for peace in Costa Rica with a motto that peace does not begin with the other person; it has to begin from ourselves.
The people of Costa Rica are friendly in nature and they find time to socialise and it is also a factor for their well-being.
Costa Rica is only a mid-income country with a G D P of 51.2 Billion The per capita income is just above$11000 and the annual growth below 5%. It is only an average income with an average growth rate.
There are many areas wanting attention and improvement in Costa Rica. The judiciary is slow and it takes long time to reach on a verdict. However it is transparent and forthright There is corruption among lower strata of Government employees where bureaucracy and inefficiency rule the roost. Although the country side is enchanting the cities are crowded like anywhere else. There is poverty, income disparity and suicide rate as in other countries. The criminals also exist there and make good business.
The ‘Utopia’ is a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean with perfect society and Governance. Costa Rica is no Utopia nor any country can become so, given the nature of the human mind.
However the shortcomings do not seem to affect the people because the Government could really teach them to live peacefully and happily in tune with the nature against all odds. In the survey conducted by the Foundation seven out of ten people expressed happiness in living there. It is a record vote of approval and that was why Costa Rica came first in the Happiness count.
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