The most ethical travel destinations for 2013

Jetting off this year? Good! But remember, your travels can have a dramatic effect on the local economy. If you want to spend your hard-earned dough in countries that have values mirroring your own, look no further than this year’s installment of Ethical Traveler, which judges developing nations based on social welfare programs, environmental protection efforts and human rights records.

1. Barbados

Bathsheba

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Chosen for: excellence in literacy and education.

2. Cape Verde

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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. 

3. Costa Rica

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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). 

4. Ghana

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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. 

5. Latvia

JURMALA, LATVIA - JUNE 2: Pedeastrians walk around Jomas Street at summer day on June 2, 2012 in Jurmala, Latvia. Jomas Street in Jurmala is one of the central and oldest streets of Jurmala with restaurants, summer terraces, hotels and cafes.

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Chosen for: leadership in social equality—especially in regards to gender equality—and a marked improvement in environmental policy.

Click here to see more ethical travel destinations.