Listen up, world-traveling solutionaries! If you care about making a positive difference, and take pleasure in exploring new locations, there are 195 independent countries in the world today filled with opportunities for you to make a change. You could be looking for a perfect place to visit for short-stay. Maybe you’re considering living in a new country for a foreign experience. Or perhaps, you are just hoping to discover a country that you can dream about one day moving to. Here is a chance for all-the-above to learn about countries that support causes you are passionate about.
If you enjoy traveling as much as we do, you have probably realized that various countries promote very different cultures, values, and lifestyles. It can be very interesting to learn from people of diverse ethnic backgrounds and with that a unique perspective and stance on a myriad of environmental, animal, and human rights topics. In fact, many places are commonly recognized internationally for causes they prioritize. So whether you care about the environment, people, animals, your health, etc., there is a country for you!
Costa Rica for the Eco Activist
Costa Rica has been recognized for its dedication to protecting the diversity of species in its ecosystems. In 2010, the country won the Future Policy Award at a global biodiversity summit in Japan. Way to go, Costa Rica! For covering a mere 0.03 percent of Earth’s surface, it’s quite impressive that this little Central American nation is home to over 500 thousand species, nearly five percent of all the world’s plant and animal species!
Hunting for sport is not allowed because Costa Rica recognizes this activity as cruel. Plus, trophy hunting could negatively affect species diversity. Can you believe that Costa Rica even closed its zoos, so that over 400 animals could live out their lives in their wild habitats?!
Costa Rica is also known for its gorgeous beaches and touristy ocean view vacation spots. The Blue Flag Ecological Program helps to keep Costa Rica’s beaches attractive to people, as well as wildlife.
Don’t like carbon footprints? Then Costa Rica is the country for you. By 2021, Costa Rica hopes to be the first “carbon-neutral” country in the world by compensating for all its carbon dioxide emissions through budgeting, laws, and incentives, as well as promoting clean energy, bio-fuels, and hybrid vehicles.
Germany for the Animal Activist
So, you might be thinking: bratwurst, knackwurst, weisswurst, bockwurst, wollwurst … isn’t Germany the wurst for animal protection? It might seem so with the average German citizen consuming approximately 132 pounds meat each year (which is actually far less than the average person in the United States, who consumes a whopping 270 pounds of meat per year), but many parts of Germany are surprisingly animal-friendly!
In 2002, Germany became the first country in Europe to provide non-human animals with constitutional protection through the German Animal Welfare Act. The amendment stated the German government’s acknowledgement of its responsibility to protect animals with the equivalency of basic human rights. Along with other countries in Europe, as well as in India, Germany has a ban on the sale and import of animal-tested cosmetics! Germany and other European countries have also criminalized poaching and the wildlife trade.
Have you heard about bridges designed for the safety of non-human animals? Germany has spent millions of euros constructing 35 wildlife bridges and underpasses to help animals safely migrate across roads.
When you visit Germany, you’ll probably want to find a hotel. And guess what? You can even bring your companion animal (as long as they have their pet passport)! There are plenty of pet-friendly hotels to stay at. Plus, you’ll find many dog parks, pet-friendly restaurants, bookstores, shopping centers, public pet swimming pools, etc. Your pet can experience your entire trip with you! What else is in Germany? Your friendly Berlin neighborhood gourmet pet deli with menu items selected by an animal nutrition expert! Yum!
Since there are so many animal-friendly venues, obviously many Germans must be animal-friendly people. Werner Freund, for example, has dedicated his life at 79 years old to protecting wolves within his 25 acre wolf park located in Saarland. He has been running the park since 1972 and has cared for about 70 wolves. Read the full story here.
As an added plus for a plant-based person, Germany has the third highest population rate of vegetarians in Europe. Berlin, Germany is considered the Portland, Oregon of German cities, with its wide variety of vegan restaurants and stores. It even has an all vegan supermarket! When visiting Berlin, be sure to check out the world’s first vegan avenue, consisting of compassionate shoe stores, clothing stores, cafes, and restaurants!
But before you embark on your journey, be sure to check out some more places that are kind to animals!
Iceland for the Health and Wellness Enthusiast
Iceland is rated one of the healthiest countries in the world based on its high life expectancies and low infant mortality rates. Icelanders believe in maintaining healthy balanced diets, exercising frequently, benefiting from water therapy, and developing strong social bonds.
Icelandic people are known for being some of the world’s happiest people, despite their high divorce rates. According to international academic studies, their health may be primarily attributed to their healthy diets, consisting mainly of locally grown fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, their frequent exercise routines due to the chilly weather, and their stress-free attitudes. Being stress-free is a significant factor in overall health and wellness.
Due to Iceland’s small population and the fact that 90 percent of housing is heated by geothermal pumps, one of the most natural and clean forms of energy, it is one of the least polluted countries in the world. Thus, Icelandic people have lower risks of heart disease and lung cancer.
Sweden for the Sustainability Activist
Sweden was nominated the most sustainable country in 2013. The country earned its reputation for its practical use of renewable energy sources and for its low carbon dioxide emissions. Being sustainable is the principle of conserving resources for future generations and for most modern Swedes, sustainability is their way of life.
The Sustainable Sweden Association is one of Sweden’s many organizations dedicated to managing sustainable ecological, economical, and social development. Sweden’s government has spent millions for research development of new environmental technologies. By 2050, the goal for Sweden is to have zero net greenhouse gas emissions. They also recycle 99 percent of their trash.
Approximately ten percent of Swedes consider themselves vegetarian or vegan because eating your greens is the “green” thing to do! Animal agriculture is not considered sustainable due to its impacts causing air pollution, water pollution and waste, carbon emissions, and deforestation.
Norway for the Human Rights Activist
We associate the United States as the land of the free and home of the brave, but Norway actually ranks as one of the top countries in regards to human rights and freedom. The United Nations announced Norway as being the best country in terms of Human Development Index in 2011 and 2012, based on basic measures of human development such as health, knowledge, and decent standard of living.
Norway is listed as one of the greatest countries for many topics of human concern, including life satisfaction, environmental performance, support of global peace, nominal commitment to human rights, slavery, women’s equal rights, gender inequality, gay rights and equality, press freedom, and internet usage.
Norway was the first country in the world to enact an anti-discrimination law to protect homosexuals, and since 2009, same sex marriage, adoption, and IVF/assisted insemination for lesbian couples have been legal.
Ready to Begin Your Adventure?
Now you’re aware of some exceptional countries supporting important causes, but before you embark on your journey, be sure to check out the following OGP articles for other places to travel and travel tips:
- Eco-Friendly Travel Tips
- Volunteering While on Vacation
- Eco-Friendly Travel-Sized Personal Care Products
- Eating Raw and Healthy While Traveling
- Tips on Traveling Responsibly
- Traveling on a Plant-Based Budget
Lead image source: damioluwatoyinbo.com