Why Invest in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has long been popular with foreign investors for a list of reasons that is as diverse as the nation is beautiful. Costa Rica has a long-standing stable democracy with one of the best economies in Latin America. Of course the nation is known worldwide for its natural beauty and bio-diversity, but as an investor, you need to know why Costa Rica is so appealing.
Political and Economic Climate
Costa Rica is the only Latin American country to have a steady democracy since before 1950 (and one of only 22 nations in the world to be able to make this claim). Simultaneous to the drafting of its democratic Constitution, Costa Rica abolished its military in 1949, causing many to refer to it as the “Switzerland of the Americas.” While other nations in Central America have been plagued by violence, Costa Rica has experienced continual peace for more than 60 years.
Historically, Costa Rica’s economy has been based on agriculture, including the production of coffee, bananas, pineapples, and ornamentals.
Because of its superb location in the Central American, Costa Rica enjoys easy access to American markets. With its Pacific and Caribbean shores, it has direct ocean access to Europe and Asia. All of this has combined to create a new surge in a variety of sectors, so that today ecotourism, electronics, pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing and software development have overtaken agriculture to become Costa Rica’s prime industries.
Costa Rica is party to a Free Trade Agreement with the United States and other nations which took effect January 1, 2009. With tax incentives available to encourage investment within its borders, Costa Rica has attracted major corporations to establish bases of operation. Most notably, the technology sector includes chip maker Intel, whose products have contributed substantially to Costa Rica’s exports and GDP. Additionally, GlaxoSmithKline (pharmaceuticals) and Procter & Gamble (consumer products) are among the many large corporations with significant operations in Costa Rica.
Medical & Education
Costa Rica is known for its achievements in healthcare and education. In fact, medical tourism is a significant factor that contributes to Costa Rica’s status as the most visited nation in Central America.
Because of its outstanding healthcare, Costa Rica is consistently ranked among the top nations in the world, and number one in Latin America. The World Health Organization statistics place Costa Rica as one of the top-ranking nations in the world for long life expectancy. Thus, many citizens of Western nations view Costa Rica has an appealing destination for both retirement and vacation home situations.
In terms of education, Costa Rica enjoys one of the highest literacy rates in Latin America (96%), and provides universal public education with schools located in virtually every community. The Universidad de Costa Rica (University of Costa Rica), the nations largest and oldest higher-education institution, boasts an average enrollment of over 39,000 and is ranked among the top universities in Latin America.
Telecommunications and Technology
With a state-of-the-art telephone system, both landlines and cellular service are readily available throughout the populated areas of Costa Rica. 3G service has been available since 2010, and provides acceptable speeds. Broadband internet service is also readily available, making Costa Rica a fine destination for telecommuting and outsourcing. Ongoing investment in telecommunications, including ADSL, cable, and fiber optics, provide for Costa Rica’s ability to keep pace with other nations.
Foreign Investors Welcome
Foreigners can legally own real estate in Costa Rica, which accounts for the significant surge in investment that Costa Rica experienced in the early-mid 2000s. The nation routinely ranks 4th in the world for foreign investment, and CNBC declared Costa Rica “the hottest real estate market in the world” in 2007. Although the real estate market suffered in the 2008 economic collapse, foreign investment in Costa Rica is on the rise, with record levels being attained in early 2013.
Since foreigners enjoy the same constitutional rights as natural-born citizens, Costa Rica continues to attract newcomers from the United States, Canada, Europe and Central and South America. In fact, Costa Rica has more U.S. Ex-Patriots (ex-pats) per capita than any other country.