Economy in Costa Rica

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Economy—overview: Costa Rica's basically stable and progressive economy depends especially on tourism and the export of bananas, coffee and other agricultural products. Poverty has been substantially reduced over the past 15 years and a strong social safety net has been put in place. Recent trends however have been disappointing. Economic growth slipped from 4.3% in 1994 to 2.5% in 1995 and to 0.9% in 1996 and then rebounded in 1997 to 3%. Inflation rose to 22.5% in 1995 from 13.5% in 1994 receded to 17.5% in 1996 then dropped to 11.2% in 1997. Unemployment appears moderate at 5.7% but substantial underemployment continues. Furthermore substantial government deficits have undermined efforts to maintain the quality of social services. The government thus faces a formidable set of problems: to curb inflation reduce the deficit encourage domestic savings and improve public sector efficiency while increasing the role of the private sector all this in harmony with IMF agreements. One important positive development—the infusion of more than $200 million in 1995 by microchip giant Intel and the anticipated attraction of other high-tech firms to Costa Rica will help stimulate growth and employment over the next several years. 

GDP: purchasing power parity—$45.77 billion (2007 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 6.8% (2007 est.)

GDP—per capital: purchasing power parity—$5 500 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 18%

industry: 24%

services: 58% (1995)

Inflation rate—consumer price

Labor force:

total: 868 300

by occupation: industry and commerce 35.1% government and services 33% agriculture 27% other 4.9% (1985 est.)

Unemployment rate: 5.7% (1997 est.); much underemployment


revenues: $1.1 billion

expenditures: $1.34 billion including capital expenditures of $110 million (1991 est.)

Industries: food processing textiles and clothing construction materials fertilizer plastic products

Industrial production growth rate: 10.5% (1992)

Electricity—capacity: 1.094 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 4.53 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 1 323 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: coffee bananas sugar corn rice beans potatoes; beef; timber (depletion of forest resources has resulted in declining timber output)


total value: $2.9 billion (f.o.b. 1996)

commodities: coffee bananas textiles sugar

partners: US US Germany Italy Guatemala El Salvador Netherlands UK France


total value: $3.4 billion (c.i.f. 1996)

commodities: raw materials consumer goods capital equipment petroleum

partners: US Japan Mexico Guatemala Venezuela Germany

Debt—external: $3.2 billion (October 1996 est.)

Economic aid:

recipient: ODA $NA

Currency: 1 Costa Rican colon (C) = 100 centimos

Exchange rates: Costa Rican colones (C) per US$1—243.55 (December 1997) 232.60 (1997) 207.69 (1996) 179.73 (1995) 157.07 (1994) 142.17 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year  


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