The concept of "Quality of Life" is much discussed by academics in the field. "What constitutes a “good life” has occupied leading philosophers since Aristotle, and dozens of definitions of the “good life” are discussed in the literature," according to the 2009 Report of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress chaired by Nobel Prize-winning economists Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz and Professor Amartya Sen, and by Professor Jean-Paul Fitoussi.
Costa Rica is a rugged, rainforested Central American country with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific. Though its capital, San Jose, is home to cultural institutions like the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, Costa Rica is known for its beaches, volcanoes and immense biodiversity. Roughly a quarter of its area is made up of protected jungle, rich with wildlife including spider monkeys and quetzal birds.
Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country on the South China Sea known for its beaches, rivers, Buddhist pagodas and bustling cities. Hanoi, the capital, pays homage to the nation’s iconic Communist-era leader, Ho Chi Minh, via a huge marble mausoleum. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) has French colonial landmarks, plus Vietnamese War history museums and the Củ Chi tunnels, used by Viet Cong soldiers.
Colombia, at the northern tip of South America, is a country of lush rainforest, towering mountains and coffee plantations. In the high-altitude capital, Bogotá, the Zona Rosa district is known for its restaurants, bars and shopping. Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast, features a walled colonial Old Town, a 16th-century castle and popular beaches. Nearby, culture-rich Barranquilla hosts a massive yearly Carnival.
Belize is a nation on the eastern coast of Central America, with Caribbean Sea shorelines to the east and dense jungle to the west. It's known for its beaches, eco-lodges, scuba diving and sportfishing. Offshore, the massive Belize Barrier Reef, dotted with hundreds of cayes, hosts rich marine life. Belize’s jungle areas are rich with Mayan ruins.
El Salvador is a tiny Central American nation known for its Pacific Ocean beaches, surfing and mountainous landscape. Its Ruta de Las Flores is a winding journey past flowering coffee farms, rainforest zip-line sites and towns like Juayúa, with its weekend food festival, and Ataco, home to vivid murals. The capital, San Salvador, with a dramatic backdrop of volcanoes, has vibrant nightlife and arts scenes.
Jamaica, a Caribbean island nation, has a lush topography of mountains, rainforests and reef-lined beaches. Many of its all-inclusive resorts are clustered in vibrant Montego Bay, with its British colonial architecture, and Negril, renowned for diving and snorkelling. Jamaica is famed as the birthplace of reggae, and its capital Kingston is home to the Bob Marley Museum, dedicated to the city’s most famous son.
Panama is a country on the isthmus linking Central and South America. The man-made Panama Canal cuts through its center, linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to create an essential shipping route. In the capital, Panama City, modern skyscrapers, casinos and nightclubs contrast with colonial buildings in the Casco Viejo district and the rainforest of Natural Metropolitan Park.
Nicaragua, set between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, is a Central American nation known for its dramatic terrain of lakes, volcanoes and beaches. Vast Lake Managua and the iconic stratovolcano Momotombo sit north of the capital Managua. To its south is Granada, noted for its Spanish colonial architecture and archipelago of islets, popular for sailing and bird-watching.
Venezuela is a country on the northern coast of South America with diverse natural attractions. Along its Caribbean coast are tropical resort islands including Isla de Margarita and the Los Roques archipelago. To the northwest are the Andes Mountains and the colonial town of Mérida, a base for hiking Sierra Nevada National Park. Caracas, the capital, is to the north
Guatemala, a Central American country south of Mexico, is distinguished by its steep volcanoes, vast rainforests and ancient Mayan sites. The capital, Guatemala City, is home to the stately National Palace of Culture, institutions such as the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and the lively Zona Viva nightlife area. Antigua, west of the capital, contains cobblestone streets and preserved Spanish colonial buildings