Costa Rica Country Performance, Brand Strength and Reputation

How is Costa Rica’s country brand performing? Is this a good country to live in, or to travel to? Is it a good decision to invest in Costa Rica? How is the country perceived abroad given the progress it has made towards sustainability, clean energy and reversing deforestation?

Let’s take a closer look at:

  • Costa Rica: how attractive for business and investors?
  • How attractive for talent, and as a place to live?
  • Soft power and presence abroad
  • Costa Rica’s environmental performance
  • How sustainable and competitive, as a destination?

Doing business in Costa Rica

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index places Costa Rica in an overall 62nd position, out of 141 countries. According to this report, Costa Rica’s strengths lie in providing freedom of the press (rank 10 worldwide), health (rank 25), trade openness (rank 29), economic stability with a good credit gap (rank 35), and stable inflation (rank 1 with other economies).

With respect to skilled labour, Costa Rica leads in the skills of current workforce and future workforce pillars, taking the 26th and 38th spots respectively. The country leads in categories like quality of vocational training, skillset of graduates, ease of finding skilled employees, and diversity of workforce.

On the other hand, the study points out that Costa Rica has scope for improvement in the functioning of the government, infrastructure, labour market, and business dynamism.

According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2020 report, Costa Rica stands at the 74th position for providing a conducive business climate globally. Costa Rica has shown consistent growth in the Ease of Doing Business score since 2010, an improvement from 56.6 to 69.2 in 2020.

The report also notes that Costa Rica has improved the reliability of its electricity supply and also made getting electricity faster by reducing the time to approve the electrical design.

Democracy and transparency

Costa Rica’s score is making slow progress in the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, currently ranking 38th out of 180 countries. The score has improved from 56 in 2018 to 58 in 2021 in public sector corruption on a scale of 0-100, where 0 means highly corrupt and 100 means very clean. This performance is similar to the wider region.

In the Democracy Index 2021 by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Costa Rica is ranked 20th globally, with strong performance in political participation, civil liberties, electoral process and pluralism. Within the Latin America and the Caribbean region, Costa Rica’s ranking has improved from the 3rd place in 2020 to the 2nd in 2021.

Talent competitiveness

In the Global Talent Competitiveness Index by INSEAD, Costa Rica has slipped from 39th position in 2021 to 42nd in 2022. Costa Rica performs very well in the following pillars – ease of finding skilled employees (10), high-value exports (30), New business density (39), political stability (27), labour-employer cooperation (17), social mobility (25), and ​​FDI regulatory restrictiveness (19).

Costa Rica scores highest in attracting talent with 31st rank but lags behind in vocational and technical skills (rank 69), global knowledge skills (rank 73), mid-level skills (78th) and high-level skills (88th)

On a positive note, Costa Rica is regarded as a talent-competitive country among five upper-middle-income countries, along with Bulgaria, China, Georgia, and Malaysia. In the Latin American and Caribbean, Costa Rica faces competition from Chile and Uruguay.

Soft power and presence abroad

Given the fact that Costa Rica does not have a military institution, its global presence – as measured by Elcano Institute’s Global Presence Index in 2021 – is not significant. The country is ranked 94th overall. Its scores are equally low in the areas of soft power and economic presence, with a 76th and a 88th position respectively.

Costa Rica’s environmental performance

Costa Rica is ranked in the 68th position in the Environmental Performance Index 2022 by Yale University. The result can be attributed to its poor performance in categories like Ecosystem Vitality (rank 79), Biodiversity Habitat Index (105), Species Protection Index (75), Ecosystem Services (105), tree cover loss (72), grassland loss (134), agriculture (145), sustainable pesticide use (96), Sustainable Nitrogen Management Index (157), and poor recycling rates (167). 

Costa Rica performs well in the Protected Areas Representativeness Index (19), Marine Trophic Index (42), sanitation (34), controlling ocean plastic pollution (29), CO2 emissions from land cover change (30), and has made significant effort in cutting CO2 emissions, ranking 1st.

Costa Rica: how competitive as destination?

According to the World Economic Forum Travel & Tourism Development Index 2021, Costa Rica ranks 50th among 117 tourism economies and 2nd in the Americas region.

Living in Costa Rica

Costa Rica ranks first for maintaining peace and stability with zero terrorism incidents, according to The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2019 rankings.

Also, for the fourth consecutive time in the last ten years, Costa Rica is placed 1st among 152 countries in the Happy Planet Index. As the report mentions, ‘strong social networks, investment in health and education, and a deep connection to nature may help explain why Costa Ricans are happier and live longer than the residents of most wealthy nations.’

In fact, Costa Rica abolished its army in 1948, diverting the funds to boost the country’s progress like developing robust education, which amounts to 7.4% of the country’s GDP, on average today.

Costa Rica’s contribution to global well-being

According to the Good Country Index, Costa Rica is placed in the 49th overall position, out of 169 countries. This is a result of its top performance in world order, and planet and climate pillars.

The Global Peace Index put Costa Rica in the 40th position in 2019, with a drop in six positions compared to its previous edition. However, Costa Rica’s performance is considered high. This drop can be explained by the deterioration of political peace inside the country. Still, it leads the ranking in the region of Central America and the Caribbean.

Costa Rica’s country brand

The 2022 edition of Brand Finance’s Nation Brand report finds that Costa Rica’s nation brand value has improved from 87th in 2021 to 84th rank in 2022, and its Global Soft Power Index ranking has improved from 68 in 2021 to 67 in 2022.

According to the report, in terms of brand value, Costa Rica is one of the top 20 fastest growing nation brands in 2022, with an increase of 19 per cent, now valued at US$30 billion.

Last updated by Supriya A N in January 2023. More country profiles here.

Enjoyed our summary of global rankings and indices on Costa Rica’s economic performance, its sustainability, attractiveness for digital nomads, brand strength and reputation? Thanks for sharing!


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