After several years of good economic growth during the
early 1990s, the country's economy was adversely affected by
the global financial crisis during the late 1990s. Business
is based on the electronics industry, tourism and
countryaah, the country has for a long time been dependent on its
agricultural production, mainly coffee and bananas. In the
1990s, this changed because foreign companies invested in
the country's duty-free zones. Most important for the
country's economy was the establishment of electronics
factories that, among other things, produced
microprocessors. Since the mid-1990s, the value of
electronics exports has exceeded that of coffee and bananas.
The tourism industry has also increased and is an important
source of foreign capital.
Agriculture employs just over 10 percent of the labor
force. The most important export crops are coffee, bananas,
sugar and cocoa. For domestic consumption, rice, maize,
beans and root vegetables are mainly grown. The most
important agricultural area is the central plateau, Meseta
Central. Here, for example, the best coffee is grown, mainly
by small farmers.
Bananas are grown in coastal areas on large plantations
built with capital from transnational US companies such as
Chiquita and Standard Fruit. However, the former closed down
its facilities on the southern part of the Pacific Coast (Golfito
area) in the mid-1980s. In addition to social problems, this
meant that banana exports decreased by 25 percent. The land
was purchased by the state to be partially transferred to
cocoa production. Elsewhere in Costa Rica, we are trying to
reduce banana dependence through complementary cultivation
of sugar cane, palm trees and exotic fruits. But during the
first three years of the 1990s, new investments were made in
banana production, which led to more than 3,000 ha of
rainforest being cut down to make room for new banana crops.
The cotton plantations are usually small but high-tech.
Livestock management was central to the country early on,
but since the end of the 20th century its importance has
diminished. Instead, the country has invested in large-scale
cultivation of flowers and tropical fruits.
Costa Rica's known mineral resources are small. In
addition to insignificant amounts of silver, only gold is
extracted. Iron ore and sulfur deposits exist, but the
assets have not been considered commercially viable. On the
other hand, work is being done on the exploitation of the
relatively large bauxite resources in the southern part of
the country. This project also includes the construction of
an aluminum smelter and the use of hydroelectric energy.
Forestry does not play a major role as an industry.
Although the proportion of forest land is between 1/3 and
half of the land area, the boundary between forest, bushland
and extensive pasture land varies in the statistics.
Valuable woods such as rose wood, cedar and mahogany are
The fishing industry has hardly had any significance.
However, some development of fishing in the Pacific is
ongoing; the most important catch is shrimp.
Energy consumption is low in Costa Rica. Water energy
generated electricity accounts for 75 percent of the
electricity demand, 15 percent is extracted from volcanoes
and small amounts from wind and biomass. The opportunities
to expand water energy are good, and the country has great
potential for exporting electricity.
The oil deposits in Costa Rica are considered sufficient
for their own needs, but commercial extraction is still at
the experimental stage. Crude oil is imported from Mexico
and Venezuela to the refinery in the port city of Limón.
From here, an oil pipeline has been built via San José to
the Pacific coast.
Although Costa Rica is one of the most industrialized
countries in Central America, the industry played a limited
economic role until the late 1990s when a number of major US
electronics companies established themselves in the country.
Microprocessors are the largest single product in the
manufacturing industry. Alongside the electronics industry,
there is also the food and plastic industry. The industry is
mainly concentrated in the San José area.
Almost 15 percent of Costa Rica's foreign trade takes
place with the countries in the free trade area in Central
America. The largest trade exchange (45 percent) takes place
with the United States. The most important export goods are
electronic products, bananas and coffee. Imports include:
raw materials, machinery and crude oil. The trade balance is
negative, but the strong increase in tourism gives the
country a much needed foreign exchange supplement.
The country is visited annually by more than 2 million
visitors, and tourism plays an increasingly important role
for Costa Rica's economy. Primarily, tourists from the
United States and neighboring countries visit the country,
but the number of tourists from Europe has increased in
recent years. Costa Rica largely lacks historical monuments
from, for example, past Native American cultures, but it is
a mountainous country with varied and beautiful scenery. You
are consciously and successfully investing in a
qualitatively oriented ecotourism. In some coastal areas,
hotels and other facilities for mass tourism are also being