Costa Rica – the Switzerland of Latin America

Someone made this analogy about Costa Rica decades ago, and it’s still used from time to time. Although imperfect, and what analogy isn’t, to a large degree it still holds. It’s not a bad way to position the country in one’s mind.
In the context of Latin America, Costa Rica is a beacon of neutrality and peace. You won’t find the cool efficiency of Swiss banks in Costa Rica, but you will find an oasis of political and economic stability compared to the rest of Latin America. With 95%+ adult literacy, life expectancy equivalent to that of the United States, a constitution that eliminated the military (after a military junta had seized control of the government!?), over 25% of the land in national parks and preserves, national health care, incredible biodiversity, natural beauty, clean hydro-electric power, environmentally sound business friendly policies and a favorable climate, if Costa Rica is not the Switzerland of Latin America, it certainly is a rare and precious corner of our world.
The emergence of Costa Rica as a destination for eco-tourists, adventure sport travelers, part-time and full-time ex-pats, and global business began in earnest in the mid-1980s. Suddenly the world realized that despite violence, revolution, and war in the rest of Central America, Costa Rica remained at peace, although not entirely untouched by events in bordering countries. The award of the Nobel Peace Price to then-president Oscar Arenas brought Costa Rica’s unique position within the Central American conflicts, and as a bridge between North and South America, into the global spotlight.
Recently Sr. Arenas was re-elected President following a national referendum changing the Constitution to allow multiple presidential terms. His platform of free trade, carbon neutral economic development, and social progress bodes well for the future.