Chosen for: excellence in literacy and education.
Chosen for: huge strides away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy (this year, Cape Verde upped its renewable capacity by 751 percent), acting as an African model of excellence in political right and civil liberties.
Chosen for: a dramatic drop in crime rates, outstanding social welfare policies and being, overall, a very happy place (Costa Rica was chosen as Happiest Country by the Happy Planet Index of the New Economics Foundation).
Chosen for: proactive environmental policies aimed at reducing natural degradation and a peaceful transition of power to a president known for his interest in the underprivileged and the environment.
Chosen for: leadership in social equality—especially in regards to gender equality—and a marked improvement in environmental policy.
Chosen for: dedication to environmental protection and social welfare.
Chosen for: improvements in human development, including property rights, monetary freedom and management of government spending, emphasis on “greening their economies and implementing sustainable development programs” and spotlighting responsible tourism.
Chosen for: greening their economies, sustainable development and environmental regard.
Chosen for: development in and emphasis on social welfare and social cohesion with the Pacific region and environmental regard (for example, Samoa recently “consulted with local communities to designate national parks and improve coastal management”).
Chosen for: top notch human rights laws, including “the most liberal LGBT rights in South America; same-sex civil unions are recognized, gays are allowed to serve openly in the military, same sex adoption is legal and anti-discrimination laws are in place to prevent discrimination for sexual orientation and/or gender identity.”