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The five strengths of the Costa Ricans


How do you think can a country described in 1719 as “the poorest and most miserable colony in all America (Central, South & North)” by a Spanish governor, become one of the most peaceful, talented and impact investing-friendly nations in the world?

I was fortunate to visit the Costa Rican Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020 and learn more about the story of how modern Costa Rica, a country of over five million people and over 51 thousand kms in area size focused on building four main strengths in the past 70 years; government, talents, environment and ecotourism and investment.

These five strengths, Costa Ricans or Ticos as they refer to themselves will tell you, are just means to their desired end result, which realising their official nation brand “essential Costa Rica” and their unofficial nation brand “Pura Vida” which literally means pure life.

Costa Rica is considered one of the most stable countries in the western hemisphere.

It has witnessed the peaceful transition of power between more than 15 administrations during the past 70 years. In addition, Costa Ricans decided in 1949 that they will dedicate their nation’s resources to investing more in education, health and environment with no resources dedicated to military conflicts.

Therefore, I would argue that the success of Costa Ricans in preserving their peace, stability and impact investing laid the ground for their success in achieving the national vision and brand.

In 2021 the winner of Unesco Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Conservation was Costa Rica’s University for International Cooperation (UCI) for their biodiversity and sustainable tourism initiatives.

This is understandable given the fact that Costa Rica invests consistently almost 30 per cent of its annual budget on education and innovation. This investment in education and innovation resulted in achieving 98 per cent adult literacy rate, one of the highest in the world and becoming one of the top software development outsourcing destinations due its talents’ high English language proficiency.

Around 100 per cent of the power Costa Ricans enjoy is generated using renewable energy, and the State invests in protecting more than a quarter of country’s land and marine territory, in order to make sure that this renewable energy generation is sustainable for their future generations.

With a population of more than five million people, Costa Rican culture’s emphasis on the values of friendliness and pure life help them attract almost the same number of tourists every year.

It’s worth mentioning that this cultural investment is backed by more than 250 certified sustainable tourism companies leveraging the country’s biodiversity, which accounts for 6 per cent of the biodiversity of the whole world despite Costa Rica’s small land area that accounts for only .03 per cent of the global surface.

None of the above national strengths would have been able to contribute to the vision of pure life without attracting both national and international impact investment partners.

In this regard, the connected positive impact of investing in peace, education, innovation and environment lead to a focus on a healthy balance between a strong “buying local” policy and implementation and an attractive investment climate, where more than 250 international companies flourish, mainly in technology, logistics and ecotourism sectors.

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