What attracts investors from around the globe to this small Central American country? What induces international financial institutions, world leaders in technology and software development and manufacturing, the globe's most successful business leaders, and world-class luxury hotels to invest in Costa Rica? There's many reasons, let's explain the most obvious ones!
Costa Rica boasts an enviable history of political stability and democracy. Often referred to as the 'Switzerland of the Americas' for its peaceful political climate,Costa Ricahas enjoyed an uninterrupted democracy for more than one hundred years. Costa Rica differentiates itself from other countries in the region by having no standing army. In fact, Costa Rica has the admirable distinction of being the only country to voluntarily dissolve its army. Taxes are instead channeled into its education and medical systems.
Moreover, Costa Rica is ranked among the highest in Political Stability Index in Latin America (World Bank, The Worldwide Governance Indicators 2010). The country has no limitations on capital funds transfers associated with an investment, regardless of the currency and there are no restrictions are imposed on re-investments or on repatriation of earnings, royalties or capita. There is no requirement to register investments with any of the government authorities and Costa Rica has achieved international standards for IPR protection.
The Costa Rican constitution of 1949 offers a wealth of rights and freedoms to citizens and foreigners alike including freedom of speech, press and assembly. Its citizen enjoy universal access to healthcare, and during the last 25 years poverty was reduced from 45% to less than 18%.
Foreign investors also benefit from Costa Rica's stand on human rights. Laws demonstrate a positive attitude to foreign investment whether large or small. Foreigners in the vast majority of cases enjoy the same rights as citizens when it comes to Costa Rica property ownership, and foreigners can own real estate in Costa Rica in their own names or the names of corporations without the need for a local partner as is the case of countries such as Mexico.
Legal residents also enjoy access to the excellent social medical system, and investors and developers are beginning to take notice of the fast growing healthcare and medical tourism opportunities offered by a country with skilled doctors, world-renowned private clinics, and 3 internationally certified hospitals: CIMA, Clinica Biblica and Hospital Catolica. CIMA just opened a full facility at Liberia and Clinica Biblica also has a lab at the Pacific Coast.
Costa Rica's established social system also provides its citizens with universal access to education. As a result, literacy rates compare to those of Europe. The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011 ranks the Costa Rican educational system 22nd out of 139 economies and the first in Latin America. Children receive English classes in primary school and English is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the country.
As a result, Costa Rica has a very talented and bilingual workforce. Currently, more than 200 multinational companies are operating in Costa Rica and on average 95% of the employees in multinational companies are locals.
Costa Rica is easily accessible from all over the world through two international airports: (1) The Juan Santamaria Airport is located in the center of the country at the capital of San Jose and (2) The Daniel Oduber Liberia Airport situated just 20 minutes to 1 hour from the Pacific or “Gold Coast” beaches.
The Liberia Airport in Liberia began processing regularly scheduled overseas flights in December 2002. The increase in flights was so dramatic that the Liberia airport is now undergoing a huge expansion project which should be completed for the high season 2012. There are approximately 30 airlines that fly to Liberia.
The expansion consists of a two story terminal building of over 23,000 square meters, nearly 500 parking spaces, and 12 commercial spaces for shops, restaurants and kiosks. The new terminal is designed to process up to 1,500 passengers at peak hours, which equates to an increase of 100% of what could be handled in the past. More than 225,000 travelers arrived in Costa Rica last year via the Liberia airport, and we expect those numbers to increase dramatically in 2012. There are now more than 30 international airlines that fly to Liberia.
Moreover, infrastructure throughout the country is experiencing improvement. Although road conditions are generally not up to North American and European standards, the North Pacific Coast has experienced rapid growth in infrastructure to service the flood of investors. New bridges and improved roads make traveling more pleasant and convenient. While most smaller roads remain unpaved, thereby protecting the environment and maintaining the tranquil charm of country, the majority of primary arteries have undergone improvement to facilitate access from the Liberia Airport to the most popular beach destinations.
Water supply, of concern in Costa Rica and around the globe, is being addressed as well. The Federal Government Water Department, AYA, is now taking a more proactive approach to water supply throughout the country.