San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Gallup: Central America is the world’s happiest region, despite sky-high homicide rates in some countries

Despite high crime, murder rates, persistent poverty and income inequality, Latin America and one of its most troubled regions, Central America, reported the highest levels of satisfaction in the world.

The results came in an annual poll of 138 countries published by Gallup on Wednesday. Costa Rica reported the sixth highest level of happiness in the world, with 82 percent of respondents saying they were happy. Paraguay led the world with a score of 87 percent. All surveyed Central American countries ranked in the top 11 worldwide, with Panama being second. Belize was not included in the survey.

The overwhelming majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries ranked high, with Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela also in the top 10. The lowest countries in the region were Jamaica and Haiti at 64th and 121st respectively. The United States ranked 24th, with 78 percent saying they were happy.

Central Americans saying they are happy comes in contrast to a number of recent studies stating the region is wrecked by high murder rates and misery. The United Nations reported that Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala remained among the world’s leaders in murder rates in April. A researcher at the World Bank noted that 30 percent of the world’s murders happen in Latin America despite having only 9 percent of the world’s population.

A study by the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute also ranked a number of Latin American countries as miserable, according to economic factors such as unemployment, inflation and gross domestic product growth. The study, published in May, ranked Venezuela as the worst out of a group of 89 countries. Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica all ranked highly on the misery index at 19th, 20th and 21st, respectively.

Other economic studies, from the United Nations and the World Bank, have shown that poverty and income inequality continue to persist in the region, though progress has been made.

This year’s poll from Gallup continued a trend, where Latin America and Central America remains at the top. In 2013, Paraguay was also the happiest country. The six Central American countries polled all ranked in the top 13.

Contact Corey Kane at ckane@ticotimes.net5

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Be happy!!

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If you really talk with Costa Rican they might tell the truth about how they feel. Most Costa Rican hate goverment stealing from them they hate bad road which Costa Rica has lots of. Most Costa Rican think everything is over priced in store. Most Costa Rican think they are not paid enough look at the teachers on strike. Most Costa Rican hate coruptions in the CAJA. Most Costa Rican dislike the fact Congress people make so much money. I guess you can say that really Costa Rican just struggle to get by everyday and the trust no goverment that are in power. This poll is shit and if they really spoke with Costa Rican we would be worse than everywhere else. Something got to change in Costa Rica soon or thing are going to get very bad for goverment in Costa Rica look at the teacher strike most Costa Rican are upset that goverment can´t pay the teacher. Where does all the peoples money go? I have lost most faith in Costa Rican Goverment even new ones.

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Frustrating, yes I agree. Keep up the good fight Ben. Complacency will only keep more of the same. Government criminals need to be held accountable. Period. When you see corruption in an institution, call it out. Publicly shame them. It is a never ending battle. But, the people will eventually win…make the job of people in government uncomfortable!

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Matthew Frederick

How many people did they survey and from WHAT regions is very important…

How can you be happy knowing you could be shot or rob at any street corner.. really?

i think it is more people are not the type to “speak out” in Costa Rica, “pura vida mae” all anyone says instead of making a fuss when something goes wrong

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Brian Solis Chaves

So Cuba noone is happy in cuba?? don’t think so

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Corey Kane

The white countries on the map were those not surveyed. Unfortunately Cuba is rarely included in these kinds of polls or studies.

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