- Population: 5 million
- Area: 51,100 km2
- Climate: Tropical to subtropical
- Capital: San José
- Currency: Costa Rican Colón
- People: 90% mixed and white race, 3% Afro-Colombian, 3% Indigenous, 4% Other
- Official Language: Spanish
- Religion: 91% Christian (13% evangelical), 9% Other faiths/none
Costa Rica is a beautiful country with two ocean coastlines, rich agricultural land, and many volcanoes in its mountain ranges. Two-thirds of the population lives in the central valley that hosts the capital, San José.
Something of an economic backwater until the 19th century coffee boom, Costa Rica has been stable and prosperous since the mid-20th century, with a tradition of multi-party democracy. Thankfully it has not therefore suffered the violence that has plagued other parts of Central America.
Key economic mainstays are tourism and the export of coffee, bananas and pineapples. Sadly, another area of economic growth has been the laundering of drug money.
Costa Rica is known for its relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. With a widespread philosphy of pura vida (pure life), its people are said to be among the healthiest and happiest in the world.
Society is traditionally well-ordered and respectful, but it also has the challenges of unrealistic expectations, materialism, immigration and corruption.
While there is widespread xenophobia, the economy relies on poorly paid Nicaraguan immigrants who generally work in construction, security and domestic service.
Despite recent scandals, the Roman Catholic Church continues to be very influential and, in general, attendance is high. Growth of the evangelical church in the 1970s and 1980s has levelled off. Many have become disillusioned by the prevalence of Prosperity theology, superficiality and cases of pastoral abuse. As a result ex-members of evangelical churches are said to number some 6% of the population.
Latin Link members work in ministries that extend beyond the country’s borders, including Bible Seminary teaching, Christian book publishing and the inclusion of people with disabilities in churches. Others work in community development, church planting, teaching, support of pastors, and work with university students.
There are many ways to serve in Costa Rica, including openings in children’s and community support work, theological education, book publishing, computer programming and graphic design, student work, teaching English, and helping people with literacy or reading.
For more information, please see the Opportunities page of our International website (this will open a new tab).