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Migration and Immigration in Costa Rica

Migration and Immigration in Costa Rica

By the time you set foot in Costa Rica, the first most important thing you notice is the human diversity that characterizes the ticos. Miscegenation is amazing and very present in this country precisely due to the fact that it is a very popular destination to migrate.


To be fair, not a lot of people want to leave their native country for another. Most of the time for economic reasons make people abandon their countries for others, Costa Rica is among those destinations and we will explore why.


Immigrant population in Costa Rica comes from at least 35 different countries, mostly from Nicaragua and before the year 2000. Entire families migrate to Costa Rica looking for a better life, with job opportunities and the possibility to receive better education and health attention. Some migrate running away from countries with government and armed conflicts.  They represent around 9% of Costa Rica’s population.


Another factor to consider is that in Costa Rica there are labor rights that are not found in other countries in Central America, for example. For immigrants, the jobs available are low wage but they are able to get formal jobs that in their own countries would not be possible. A big plus is public general health and the easy access to medicines and attention.


costa rica immigration statistics


35%-42% of immigrants in Costa Rica send money, goods or both to their families in their native country.


Ticos migration is mostly to the United States (70%), Canada, Mexico, Spain and other countries in Europe. 20 years ago, there were no job opportunities to work, people also migrated to get their higher education and family reintegration.


Migration and immigration can have positive and negative effects, depending on opportunities, politics, working market, agriculture, education and finances.


One of the biggest issues in Costa Rica is that less than 5% of households have had financial education. This means that even if people are academically prepared, they won’t be economically rewarded as they should. But it also means that there is close to no investment in remittances that might benefit the country’s finances too.


There should be ways where immigrants can positively impact the country and promote social and economic activities. A political agenda that makes every government entity work together to provide education, health assistance and work tools for immigrants to have the same opportunities as everyone else. Migration and immigration should be included in the government plans.


Karen Ebanks

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