The economy of Costa Rica has been very stable for some years now, with continuing growth in the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and moderate inflation, though with a high unemployment rate: 11.49% in 2019 Costa Rica’s economy emerged from recession in 1997 and has shown strong aggregate growth since then. The estimated GDP for 2017 is US$61.5 billion, up significantly from the US$52.6 billion in 2015 while the estimated 2017 per capita (purchasing power parity) is US$12,382.

Inflation remained around 4% to 5% per annum for several years up to 2015 but then dropped to 0.7% in 2016; it was expected to rise to a still moderate 2.8% by the end of 2017 In 2017, Costa Rica had the highest standards of living in Central America in spite of the high poverty level. The poverty level dropped by 1.2% in 2017 to 20.5%, thanks to reducing inflation and benefits offered by the government. The estimated unemployment level in 2017 was 8.1%, roughly the same as in 2016.

The country has evolved from an economy that once depended solely on agriculture, to one that is more diverse, based on tourismelectronics and medical components exports, medical manufacturing and IT services Corporate services for foreign companies employ some 3% of the workforce. Of the GDP, 5.5% is generated by agriculture, 18.6% by industry and 75.9% by services (2016). Agriculture employs 12.9% of the labor force, industry 18.57%, services 69.02% (2016) Many foreign companies operate in the various Free-trade zones. In 2015, exports totalled US$12.6 billion while imports totalled US$15 billion for a trade deficit of US$2.39 billion.

The growing debt and budget deficit are the country’s primary concerns. By August 2017, Costa Rica was having difficulty paying its obligations and the President promised dramatic changes to handle the “liquidity crisis” Other challenges face Costa Rica in its attempts to increase the economy by foreign investment. They include a poor infrastructure and a need to improve public sector efficiency

Currency Colón (500 CRC = 1US$) / (670CRC = 1EUR)
Unemployment 6.5% (2011 est.)
Inflation rate Estimated at 4.8% in 2011
Tax exemptions for International large scale Investors e.g. Intel
Exportations Microprocessor 20%
 Prime industries Pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, Software development and ecotourism.
Three main cash crops export Bananas, pineapples and coffee
Most visited nation in Central America 2.2 million foreign visitors in 2011
International tourist receipts US$2.4 billion in 2012
Electricity produntion 94% renewable sources (mainly hydropower)

Costa Rica’s major economic resources are tourism, agriculture and exportations. Also its very well educated population, and the strategic location in the Central American isthmus, which provides access to North and South American markets and ocean access to the European and Asia.


Scroll to Top