MVP Sustainability Map

Costa Rica


Sustainability Grade




Sustainable Population

69.0 %

Contraception Use


Species Threatened

0.92 %

Population Growth

$ 12,141

GDP Per Capita

Country Comments

Costa Rica is a country of exceptionally rich and well-protected biodiversity. With overall healthy lives, the people live modestly without a heavy footprint on their environment. Nevertheless its current population is almost twice what the country can sustainably support and it must reduce its size to be in better balance and sustainable.

Costa Rica was one of the first countries in the world to pioneer a biodiversity law in 1998 “embracing conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of resources, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of natural resources. The country introduced payments for Ecosystem Services to farmers and other land managers to achieve conservation, and also invented and developed ecotourism in the 90’s so strict nature protection became very profitable. In December of 2021 Costa Rica announced that it will expand its protected ocean area from 2.7 percent to more than 30 percent of its territorial waters, a massive increase that if enforced wil preserve substantial marine biodiversity. In addition, Costa Rica now is leading the world in clean energy production as 98% of its electricity is derived from renewable resources (mostly hydropower) and recently set the ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.” (UN)

In the 1950's Costa Rican women had an average 6 children per mother. The conservative Catholic president instituted a government publicized program to increase contraception use because of the massive deforestation occuring and the country's fertility rate has declined over 60 years to today less than 2 children per woman. It is expected if this trend continues Costa Rica will start to see a reduction in population very shortly.

Adding to the social aspect of the country’s success, the infant mortality rate is half the average for Latin America and life expectancy (79.8 years) is comparable with many much richer countries.This is due to one of the most effective primary health care systems in the world, covering almost every citizen. Relatively high education levels have been achieved by introducing obligatory education and by high spending (8% of GDP, while the global average is 4.8%). The combination of high wellbeing and a good state of nature gave Costa Rica the top rank in the Happy Planet Index three times in a row.