Costa Rica

Costa Rica, located on the Central American isthmus, borders Nicaragua, Panama, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. Widely recognized for its varied wildlife, Costa Rica has beautiful landscapes filled with forests, mountains, beaches, and rivers.

  • Population: 4,659,000
  • Life Expectancy: 79 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 97%
  • School Enrollment: 92%
  • Land Mass: 19,729 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 96%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 10/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 6,260

Facts about Costa Rica

Economic Development

Over seven percent of Costa Ricans are unemployed and over 15 percent live below the poverty line.

Economic Development

Unequal income distribution contributes to rural poverty; the wealthiest 10 percent of the population own about 35 percent of the wealth.

Child Protection

The sex tourism industry remains a problem in Costa Rica. Many women and girls who live in poverty work in this industry for survival. Many of these girls are as young as eight.

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Progress in Costa Rica

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.

  • Distributed hens and cows to families, improving their access to nutritious food.

  • Established a community orchard to provide fruit for families.

  • Partnered with community agencies to develop water systems in two villages.

  • Provided schools with furniture and equipment, improving the learning environment.

  • Trained community volunteers to tutor children in math and reading.

  • Formed local disaster-response committees to help communities prepare for crises such as floods and volcanic eruptions.

  • Continued to raise awareness of child rights through children's clubs, community forums, and advocacy events.

  • Held a children's rally to encourage Christian principles and values.

  • Coordinated health fairs to strengthen community members' knowledge on topics such as dental hygiene and preventive health.

  • Offered nutrition classes for caregivers, working to reduce malnutrition among children.

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    World Vision in Costa Rica Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Costa Rica to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 4,200 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Costa Rica. Highlights include:

    • Increasing the health and income of families living in poverty through improved agricultural techniques and market communication.
    • Supporting communities through disaster relief and increased disaster preparedness.
    • Caring for and rehabilitating children who live on the streets, offering educational opportunities and medical assistance.

    World Vision History in Costa Rica

    In the late 1970s, World Vision began its ministry in Costa Rica by partnering with other agencies to provide printed evangelical materials, build a Christian Women’s House, and fund a Christian conference that addressed the needs of women in poor, rural areas of Costa Rica. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

    • Offering vocational training and medical help for the homeless and elderly, and building a well-traveled bridge between villages in the 1980s.
    • Providing emergency food, first aid, hygiene items, and counseling to thousands of people affected by Hurricane Joan in the late 1980s.
    • Meeting the needs of children through healthcare, education, community involvement, and awareness-building opportunities in the 1990s.
    • Seeking to weaken the sex tourism industry and protect children since the beginning of the 21st century.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    Costa Rica, located on the Central American isthmus, borders Nicaragua, Panama, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. Widely recognized for its varied wildlife, Costa Rica has beautiful landscapes filled with forests, mountains, beaches, and rivers.

    The climate is tropical along the coasts, with cooler temperatures in the highlands. Natural resources are arable land and hydropower.

    Over 90 percent of Costa Ricans are of Caucasian or mestizo (Amerindian and European) heritage. Costa Rica also has small groups of indigenous people, as well as those of African and Chinese descent. Spanish is the official language, but many people also speak English.

    Coast Ricans highly value family tradition and heritage. Extended families in rural areas live together or are neighbors.


    In 1821, Costa Rica joined its neighboring territories and declared independence from Spanish rule. After more than two decades of border disputes with Nicaragua, the country became a sovereign republic in 1838.

    An era of peaceful democratic rule has existed in Costa Rica since 1899, with one exception. In 1948, José Figueres led an uprising against the Costa Rican army following a disputed presidential election. The 44-day war left 2,000 dead.

    After the war, new articles of the constitution were written abolishing the army and guaranteeing blacks and women the right to vote. Figueres became a hero and easily won the presidential election in 1953.

    Democratic elections continue to this day. Costa Rica declared its intention in 2007 to become one of the world’s first carbon-neutral nations by 2021.

    Prayer Requests for Costa Rica

    • Continued peace and stability within the country.
    • The protection and care of vulnerable children.