Is Costa Rica 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? What do international rankings and indices say about Costa Rica’s economic performance, its country brand strength and reputation?

Let’s take a closer look at:

  • Costa Rica’s soft power and brand strength
  • Its appeal to skilled labor, investors and visitors
  • The country’s global contribution to peace and wellbeing
  • How well it fares in terms of happiness and sustainability

Costa Rica’s soft power and brand strength

How does Costa Rica compare in terms of reputation and brand value globally? 

In the Global Soft Power Index 2023 by Brand Finance, Costa Rica secures the 72nd spot, slightly trailing Panama (70th) and Malta (71st). Costa Rica experienced a drop of five positions from 2022, although its score increased by 5.2%.

In the U.S. News Best Countries 2023 ranking, Costa Rica secures the 42nd position, a drop of two positions from the 2022 ranking; It currently sits behind Morocco (40th) and Indonesia (41st). Notably, Costa Rica excels in the key area of adventure (10th) which analyzes the level of friendliness, good for tourism, scenic beauty, pleasant climate, and overall sexiness. However, Costa Rica scored lowest in the entrepreneurship and power factors.

Costa Rica’s appeal to digital nomads, business, trade and travel 

What is the global perception of Costa Rica as a destination for living, conducting business, and tourism?

The Expat Insider 2023 ranks Costa Rica in 7th position out of 53 countries. Costa Rica’s most notable factors are: Environment and Climate (3rd), Ease of Settling in (7th), Culture and Welcome (7th), Local Friendliness (7th), and Finding friends (7th).

The Bloom Consulting biannual Country Brand Ranking Trade Edition 2022-2023 assesses investment-related variables, emphasizing perceptions of a country’s trade-specific brand and evaluating branding performance. Regionally, Costa Rica jumped one position to the 9th position, behind Chile (7th) and Peru (8th). Globally Costa Rica secured the 61st position.

In addition, the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking Tourism Edition 2022-2023 places Costa Rica at the 31st global position. Regionally, Costa Rica now holds the 4th position as it overtook Brazil for the first time. Costa Rica has improved in both social media and online performance and Bloom Consulting praises the country for its sustainable economic approach.

Talent attraction and competitiveness

What are the conditions for talent attraction and retention in Costa Rica?

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2019 edition placed Costa Rica at the 62nd position among 141 countries. However, it’s important to note that an updated version of this report hasn’t been released in the past 5 years, and rankings may have shifted since then.

Costa Rica, classified as a upper-middle income country within the Latin American and Caribbean regional group, currently holds the 47th position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023. The country ranks highest in the Attract pillar (28th) and struggles most with the GK Skills pillar (74th).

How “good” is Costa Rica?

In the Caf World Giving Index 2023, Costa Rica secured the 68th position, a drastic drop of 25 positions compared to last year’s ranking. Costa Rica performs best in the subfactor of helping a stranger, where 71% of its adult population helped a stranger this past year.

In the Good Country Index, Costa Rica currently holds the 49th position overall, with notable subfactors as follows: Science & Technology (75th), Culture (63rd), International Peace & Security (88th), World Order (42nd), Planet & Climate (46th), Prosperity & Equality (55th), and Health & Wellbeing (82nd). It’s worth mentioning that in 2022, Costa Rica was ranked 29th, and in 2021, it held the 34th position.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023, Costa Rica ranked in the blue zone (8-9 range) with a 8.29 out of 10, making it the leader of the Central American region.

The 2022 Corruption Perception Index, ranks Costa Rica 48th with a score of 54/100. Costa Rica’s score has dropped by four points since 2021.

The Sustainable Development Report 2023 ranks Costa Rica in the 52nd position, it highlights that Mexico experiences some significant and major challenges that are still to be overcome. However, the Affordable and Clean energy goal has reached SDG status and continues to experience moderate increases.

Costa Rica’s environmental performance

How well does Costa Rica perform in terms of environmentally sustainable action-taking?

The 2022 edition of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks Costa Rica 68th, sitting between Venezuela (67th) and Zimbabwe (69th). The EPI analyzes the performance of 180 countries, scoring and ranking these countries on their environmental performance using the most recent year of data available as well as providing calculable changes in scores over the previous decade. Costa Rica has experienced a change in score of positive 4.

Peace and happiness

Is Costa Rica a happy and safe place to invest time and money in?

The Global Peace Index 2023 ranks Costa Rica 39th, jumping two positions from the previous ranking. Costa Rica sits behind the UK (37th) and North Macedonia (38th). Costa Rica falls under the high sector of the ‘State of Peace’ spectrum as defined by the Institute for Economics & Peace. Costa Rica positioned first regionally amongst the fellow Central America and the Caribbean countries.

The Institute for Economics & Peace similarly ranks Costa Rica within the no impact (green) zone in terms of ‘Impact of Terrorism’ in the 2022 Global Terrorism Index. Costa Rica ranks 93rd, tying with many other countries for last place. 

Meanwhile, the World Happiness Report 2023 which displays the Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year-average 2020–2022 ranks Costa Rica 23rd.

Last updated in November 2023. More country profiles here.

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