In a broad sense, Costa Rica’s economy lies in tourism, agriculture, and the export of electronic equipment and services.
The country significantly reduced poverty during the period between 1950 and 1980 thanks to a strong impulse -by the State- to the production processes for the internal market, as well as to the development of a strong social investment in education, health, electricity, telecommunications, and supply of water services, among others.
Currently, the Costa Rican economy is based on a mixed and quite diversified structure.
Costa Rica’s export revenues from traditional agricultural products, such as bananas, coffee, sugar, cocoa, and pineapple, remain important. Highlights the production of high-quality Costa Rican coffee and its export to the United States market, where it is highly appreciated.
However, the income from the export of non-traditional products -such as flowers and mini-vegetables- has greatly exceeded the previous ones and the service sector has grown strongly in recent years, generating more than 10 thousand jobs. Tourism is the fastest growing industry and since the beginning of the 2000s, it generates more currencies than any of the main agricultural export products.
As mentioned before, tourism is a thriving axis of the Costa Rican economy. An increase in hotels, taxis, guides, and other geared tourism services have appeared since the early 1990s. For that reason, bilingual schools have been founded in order to provide essential English to communicate with the increasing number of visitors that come to our country every year.
Costa Rica has sought to expand its economic and commercial ties, both inside and outside the region. Due to its peaceful environment, the high educational level of its inhabitants and adequate policies to stimulate companies, the production of technical materials and products and micro-technology began in the country in the mid-1990s.
The medical supplies production industry became the main export product of Costa Rica, reaching US$ 2.2 billion in 2015 and experiencing a growth of 19% compared to 2013, displacing the microprocessor electronic components producing sector and the pineapple. This sector employs 19,000 people, out of who 55% are women.
Costa Rica is a country that many multinationals like to seat their centrals or service delegations within the region, which creates jobs for its population, highlighting Amazon, Procter & Gamble, Intel, Smith & Nephew, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Hewlett- Packard, Sykes, Sony, DHL, Cisco Systems, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Western Union, Baxter, IBM, Oracle, Walmart, Kimberly Clark, Cargill, Emerson Electric and Dole, VMware.
Ecotourism is extremely popular among foreign tourists who visit a large number of national parks and protected areas that exist throughout the country. Costa Rica was one of the pioneers in ecotourism and is recognized as one of the few international destinations with true ecological tourism options.
In the classification of the Competitiveness Index in Travel and Tourism of 2008, Costa Rica reached the 44th place, being the first classified among Latin American countries. The competitive advantages to develop tourism ventures are in the area of human, cultural and natural resources, in which Costa Rica is ranked 24th worldwide, and ranks seventh when only the natural resources factor is considered.
With revenues of the US$ 1.9 billion a year, the tourism industry, Costa Rica stands out as the most visited destination in Central America, with a total of 1.9 million foreign tourists in 2007. With 460 visitors per thousand inhabitants, Costa Rica has one of the highest tourist rates.
Most foreign visitors come from the US and Canada. Tourism contributed 8.1% of the country’s GDP, and represents 13.3% of direct and indirect jobs. Since the early 2000s, tourism has generated more foreign exchange for the country than the export of bananas or coffee together.
Costa Rica for its economic growth, the attraction of investment and competitiveness lies in infrastructure in all areas, Costa Rica has an infrastructure delay of more than 25 years, and many of the infrastructure works that exist, main bridges, are in a state of vulnerability. The capacity of the country’s airports, Juan Santamaría (SJO) and Daniel Oduber Quirós in Liberia, has been overcome by the growing demand for passengers due to the tourism boom.
The capacity of the ports has also proved very insufficient to keep pace with the growth of maritime trade. They no longer have enough capacity and the equipment is in poor condition. The rail system has not worked since 1994, except the urban train in San José and a few lines reactivated by banana companies with American capital, in the Caribbean area.