Featuring 6% of the world’s species within an area covering only 0.003% of the Earth’s surface, Costa Rica has the highest density of biodiversity in the world. Visitors can see sloths, capuchins or tree frogs and even jaguars, if they are incredibly lucky.
It ranks highly on the list of the world’s happiest countries like the Happy Planet Index (HPI). Some suggested reasons for this collective joy include the lack of an army (Costa Rica abolished its defense force in 1948), the high quality and low cost of their health care system, healthy plant-based eating, personal connection to the natural environment, and a more relaxed pace of life, known in Costa Rica as the “pura vida” lifestyle.
UC Irvine Impact Academy students are stationed in the centrally located capital of Costa Rica, San Jose.
Costa Rica is considered to be a leader in environmental policy. It has increased forest cover from 21% of the country in 1987 to more than 50% in 2005.
In 2010, the nation committed to carbon neutrality by 2021. But how do you measure a country’s emissions? Is Costa Rica responsible for the air travel emissions caused by its ecotourism sector?
In addition, Costa Rican conservationists are still dealing with poaching, specifically shark fins and turtle eggs.
Conflict in the neighboring nation, Nicaragua, has also resulted in shared habitats being damaged and many Nicaraguan refugees seeking asylum.
- Study what is being done in Costa Rica to combat illegal logging resulting in deforestation.
- Investigate how Costa Rica works with the United Nations to bring solar panels to rural communities.
- Research a range of community development initiatives running in refugee communities.
- Learn and analyze how a local organization is making sure that jaguars preying on endangered sea turtles are not presenting a threat to the species’ population.