Costa Rica. Who knew that Costa Rica is named as the happiest country on the planet, out of 148 nations? Apparently the reason for euphoria is education. They have done away with their military and put all that money towards education. They are now number one in life expectancy (in most survey data), in environmental impact (we ranked 114 on that one, ah-hem), and some of the best gender equality levels. By boosting their education they created a stable society in the midst of Central American conflicts, improved their economy, and have made leaps in health care.
I think this is wonderful for them and the world. Perhaps other countries could learn from their example and improve their own education. Zimbabwe especially, since they came in at the absolute bottom of most of those statistics.
I also find the idea that people are researching the happiness levels in countries interesting. There is a book written by an NPR reporter, Eric Weiner, titled The Geography of Bliss. In the book, the reporter goes to the happiest and unhappiest places on earth to see why they rate the way they do. He also takes the time to interview the man who began measuring happy levels, a researcher in Denmark, Dr. Ruut Veenhoven, who created the World Database of Happiness. The process is fascinating, if slightly wonky. The most interesting part is the way they measure the happiness levels of a nation. Apparently, neither greater social equality nor greater cultural diversity is associated with greater happiness.
All I can say is that it makes perfect sense to me that people would be happy living beside this: