Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy must be a relative term...

"Costa Rica is the happiest place on earth... according to a new survey by a British non-governmental group." (Full article here.)

Fun facts about Costa Rica:
  • Costa Rica is "developing nation" (third world country) with a per capita GDP of $6,554. To put that in perspective, its per capita GDP is only 14% of that of the U.S., and only 85% as much as Mexico's.
  • Costa Rica ranks 48th (out 0f 177) on the United Nations' "Human Development Index" score, which is a composite ranking of things like life expectancy, literacy and poverty. A sample of nations ranking above it on that list includes: South Korea, Slovenia, Qatar and Bahrain. Oh, and every developed Western nation from Australia to Portugal.
  • The UN also ranked Costa Rica 100th worst out of 126 nations ranked in terms of income inequality, meaning that much of the nation's money is held by a relatively small group of people.
  • Costa Rica's economy is heavily dependant on tourists from the U.S. Inflation rates and national debt are both very high.
  • Teen pregnancy is high and rising in Costa Rica, and AIDS and other STDs are also on the increase.
  • Costa Rica has no army and is a sitting duck relying on allies like the United States to save its butt should the shit ever hit the fan with one of its less stable neighbors, like Nicaragua.

Costa Rica is a beautiful country, a well-educated and environmentally conscious one, and a relatively stable democracy in an unstable part of the world. I wish it well.

However, it is still a third world country. Happiest place on Earth? Maybe happiest third world country on Earth. ("Best of the worst!") Nice try, New Economics Foundation.

As bad as the Detroit economy is right now, there's no way in hell I'd give up living in the good old U.S.A.

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