Costa Rica


Prior to the global economic crisis, Costa Rica enjoyed stable economic growth. The economy contracted 1.3% in 2009 but resumed growth at about 4.5% per year in 2010-12. While the traditional agricultural exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are still the backbone of commodity export trade, a variety of industrial and specialized agricultural products have broadened export trade in recent years. High value-added goods and services, including microchips, have further bolstered exports. Tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange, as Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity makes it a key destination for ecotourism. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the free-trade zones; and Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. However, many business impediments remain, such as high levels of bureaucracy, legal uncertainty due to overlapping and at times conflicting responsibilities between agencies, difficulty of enforcing contracts, and weak investor protection. Poverty has remained around 20-25% for nearly 20 years, and the strong social safety net that had been put into place by the government has eroded due to increased financial constraints on government expenditures. Unlike the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is not highly dependent on remittances as they only represent about 2% of GDP. Immigration from Nicaragua has increasingly become a concern for the government. The estimated 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans in Costa Rica legally and illegally are an important source of mostly unskilled labor but also place heavy demands on the social welfare system. The US-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force on 1 January 2009 after significant delays within the Costa Rican legislature. CAFTA-DR has increased foreign direct investment in key sectors of the economy, including the insurance and telecommunications sectors recently opened to private investors. President CHINCHILLA was not able to gain legislative approval for fiscal reform, her top priority, though she continued to pursue fiscal reform in 2012. President CHINCHILLA and the PLN were successful in passing a tax on corporations to fund an increase for security services.


$61.43 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
$59.35 billion (2012 est.)
$56.45 billion (2011 est.)

GDP- Real Growth Rate

3.5% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
5.1% (2012 est.)
4.4% (2011 est.)

GDP - Per Capita

$12,900 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
$12,700 (2012 est.)
$12,200 (2011 est.)

GDP - Composition By Sector

agriculture: 6.2%
industry: 21.3%
services: 72.5% (2013 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line

24.8% (2011 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices)

5.6% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164
4.5% (2012 est.)

Labor Force

2.222 million
country comparison to the world: 117
note: this official estimate excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica (2013 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation

agriculture: 14%
industry: 22%
services: 64% (2006 est.)

Unemployment Rate

7.9% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85 7.8% (2012 est.)


microprocessors, food processing, medical equipment, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products

Industrial Production Growth

4.3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66