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

Economic Development

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 Protection

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 2014.

  • We prepared 127 peer tutors to help at-risk students improve their academic performance in math and Spanish by using fun teaching methods like art and storytelling.

  • In partnership with the Ministry of Education, social service agencies, and drug prevention groups, we provided trainings for 378 children and youth on how to develop life skills such as leadership, decision-making, and teamwork.

  • We equipped 284 children to be actively involved in managing projects in the community, such as purchasing sports uniforms, recycling, and improving school playgrounds.

  • Over 3,000 children were enrolled at schools and vocational training centers where they received an education and expanded their opportunities for the future.

  • To improve the safety of children, 115 community leaders attended our workshop on child protection and advocacy for children's rights. These leaders then partnered with schools and community churches to offer workshops for children on learning their rights.

  • During our programs and activities for children, youth, and leaders, we reflected our Christian values through prayer, Bible reading, and reflection.

  • Community leaders took part in a series of World Vision-hosted trainings that equipped them to handle cases of child abuse and child rights violations.

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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

    • Please pray for children who need extra help to keep up with their basic subjects because they’ve had to miss school to help out at home.
    • Pray also for communities to be vigilant about protecting children from the dangers of child labor and trafficking.