The Happy Medium

Published: April 12th 2014
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With ten hours to kill on my main flight I decide to read a bit of my Costa Rica Insight book. I find out that Costa Rica was dubbed The Land of the Happy Medium by an official at the World Bank and although it is classified in economic terms as a third world country its high standard of living and social development seem at odds with this label.

My favourite discovery so far is that Costa Rica got rid of its army in 1948 and since then the government has been able to devote a massive percentage of its resources to more useful and civilised pursuits such as education, health and conservation instead of killing and maiming fellow human beings in the patriotic fervour that is deemed necessary by testosterone fuelled power struggles and waving of willies displayed by much of the rest of the world!

A few stats about Costa Rica:

• The population is just 4.6 million.
• It is only 285 miles long from top to bottom.
• The narrowest section of land is only 74 miles across.
• It has the tranquil Carribean Sea to the east and the tumultuous Pacific Ocean crashing surf onto its western shores.
• It is bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.
• A quarter of the country is protected land such as national parks, biological reserves and wildlife refuges.
• More than 850 species of birds and 250 species of mammals choose Costa Rica as their home.

But my favourite stat relating to home is that the land area of Costa Rica is just a third that of Scotland. One slight difference between the two countries I've noticed so far - there aren't too many munros spewing out vapour and ash or rumbling and grumbling like bilious highland cattle with PMT! Yes, Costa Rica has many volcanoes some of which are active. I'm going to be visiting at least one - Poas - but hope lava flows won't impede my time there!

If you needed further proof of the validity of The Land of the Happy Medium phrase you need look no further than the New Economics Foundation's Happy Planet Index. Topping their list of 151 countries is, yes you guessed it, Costa Rica.

I don't think I'm going to need a happiness index on these travels. It's gonna be pretty obvious how happy I am!


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