Costa Rica proclaims itself to be a country of peace. They abolished their army in 1948 and never looked back.
Costa Ricans will quickly tell you that their citizens are considered among the happiest in the world. This is backed up by a study by the New Economics Foundation from England, which put Costa Rica at the top of 151 nations based on progress and well-being. The Dutch-based World Database of Happiness has also put Costa Rica at the top.
With the oldest and most stable democracy in Latin America, Costa Rica has chosen to invest in health care and education, rather than militarization. They have also focused on environmental responsibility, seeking to have a net zero carbon footprint by 2021 (that is, focusing on renewable fuels so that no more carbon is produced than is “sequestered,” be it by plants or by other means).
It’s a beautiful country, with national parks making up over 30% of the country. They have access to oceans to the east and to the west. All of that makes it a prime tourist destination. In fact, many people from the States are choosing to retire in Costa Rica.
The country is far from perfect. Still, it’s interesting to see what can happen when a country dedicates itself to being a country of peace.
In the words of Nicholas Kristof:
Cross-country comparisons of happiness are controversial and uncertain. But what does seem quite clear is that Costa Rica’s national decision to invest in education rather than arms has paid rich dividends. Maybe the lesson for the United States is that we should devote fewer resources to shoring up foreign armies and more to bolstering schools both at home and abroad.