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, volcanoes, beaches, and rivers.

  • Population: 4,805,300
  • Life Expectancy: 80 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 96%
  • School Enrollment: 92%
  • Land Mass: 19,729 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 96%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 10/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 8,740

Facts about Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s poverty rate of 20-25 percent has remained the same for nearly 20 years. The country also has an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent.

Child labor continues to be a challenge in the country; 21 percent of child laborers are not attending school. Also, the sex tourism industry remains a problem in Costa Rica.

The country has been experiencing a recent outbreak of dengue fever, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Around 49,000 have been affected.

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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 2013.

  • 338 children attended health and nutrition classes where they learned about diseases and how to treat them.

  • Equipped 45 schools with desks and blackboards, refurbished 16 school libraries, and supplied 3,321 children with school supplies, improving the learning environment for children.

  • 40 youth attended technical education training and drug prevention classes, so they can improve their futures.

  • 2,500 boys and girls participated in a Day of the Child celebration, where they got to have fun and celebrate being a kid.

  • Acquired food processing equipment that will help parents expand their small businesses and improve their family's nutrition.

  • Developed an emergency preparedness plan that will ensure children receive proper nourishment before, during, and after a natural disaster.

  • Trained and equipped 40 youth to serve as tutors for their peers.

  • Taught children and parents how to protect their water resources through conservation and tree planting to improve their environment.

  • Created 38 new gardens--10 at schools and 28 in homes--to help families and schools grow their own sustainable food sources.

  • 194 youth participated in child protection groups where they learned about their rights and how to put them into practice.

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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 3,400 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Costa Rica. Highlights include:

    • Improving the quality of water in communities.
    • Improving child well-being by establishing partnerships with 17 organizations that look out for the welfare of children.
    • Providing extracurricular support for children who struggle with low academic performance.

    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, volcanoes, beaches, and rivers.

    The climate is tropical along the coasts, with cooler temperatures in the highlands. Natural resources include 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

    • That quality education would be provided for all children, equipping them for a bright future.
    • For safety and peace for children who are vulnerable to conflict or exploitation.
    • For continued peace and stability within the country.