Costa Rica–United States relations

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Costa Rica – United States relations
Map indicating locations of Costa Rica and USA

Costa Rica

United States

Costa Rica – United States relations have been historically close; nevertheless there were instances in history where the US and Costa Rica disagreed. One such example might be the case of Freebooter William Walker. Nevertheless, considering that Costa Rica generally supports the U.S. in international fora, especially in the areas of democracy and human rights, modern day relations are very strong.

According to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, 41% of Costa Ricans approve of U.S. leadership, while 15% disapproving and 44% uncertain.[1]


Costa Rica and The United States have maintained formal diplomatic relations since 1851.[2]

The United States is Costa Rica's most important trading partner.[3] The two countries share growing concerns for the environment and want to preserve Costa Rica's tropical resources and prevent environmental degradation. In 2007, the United States reduced Costa Rica's debt in exchange for protection and conservation of Costa Rican forests through a debt for nature swap under the auspices of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act. This is the largest such agreement of its kind to date.[4] This deal between both governments generated 50 million dollars which were devoted to conservation projects.

Through provision of more than $100 million in assistance, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supported Costa Rican efforts to stabilize its economy and broaden and accelerate economic growth through policy reforms and trade liberalization. Assistance initiatives in the 1990s concentrated on democratic policies, modernizing the administration of justice, and sustainable development. Once the country had graduated from most forms of U.S. assistance, the USAID Mission in Costa Rica closed in 1996. However, USAID completed a $9 million project in 2000-01 to support refugees of Hurricane Mitch residing in Costa Rica.[5]

Relations between the two countries took a dip in the 1980s when the Reagan administration used Costa Rican territory to attack the Sandinista government of Costa Rica's northern neighbor Nicaragua against the wishes of the Costa Rican government. The administration of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias prohibited the handful of former U.S. officials from entering Costa Rica after a congressional commission found that their actions to resupply the contra rebels led to drug trafficking by contra pilots. The Bush Administration stopped international financial organization loans to the government of Costa Rica after Arias expropriated land on which a secret mile-long airstrip was built.[6]

More than 3,370 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Costa Rica since the program was established in 1963. Currently, 128 volunteers serve there. Volunteers work in the areas of youth development, community development, business and English education. They are trained and work in Spanish.[7]

As reported by the National Census of Costa Rica of 2011, 4.1% more American citizens live in Costa Rica with regards to the number calculated in 2000. There are 15,898 American citizens living in Costa Rica, as found by the census, compared to the 9,511 that lived in that nation in the year 2000.[8]

During the first trimester of 2011, 55% of people that visited Costa Rica came from the United States.[9]

U.S.-Costa Rica Counter-narcotics Cooperation Agreement[edit]

In 1999 the U.S.-Costa Rica Counter-narcotics Cooperation Agreement, entered into force. The agreement facilitates cooperation between the Coast Guard of Costa Rica and the U.S. Coast Guard regarding drug trafficking and other illegal activity.

Bilateral Costa Rican law enforcement cooperation, particularly against drug trafficking, has been successful. However, there was an internal dispute (within Costa Rica) regarding the entrance of United States naval forces as support for U.S. Coast Guard activities.[10]

While Costa Rica is concerned about the threat of illegal drug-related activities, it has a tradition of demilitarization and peaceful conflict resolution. Costa Rican Congressman Luis Fishman stated his concern saying that "This gives a blank check to American troops", while opposition legislator Juan Carlos Mendoza added, "The type of armament leads one to believe that these operations are more military in character, rather than for combating drug trafficking".

There was also an online petition against the entry of U.S. naval vessels, which received over 4,200 signatures, and the mobilization of protestors.[11]

U.S. Embassy in San José, Costa Rica[edit]

U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, Anne Andrew
Deputy Chief of Mission, Eric Nelson

The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica is in San José. The positions of Ambassadress, as of June 2017, is headed by S. Fitzgerald Haney.[12]

Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano[edit]

The Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano is a non-profit Costa-Rican association established in 1945 and declared 'public interest' by the Costa-Rican government in 1993.[13]

This association's stated mission is "to lead in innovative ways of teaching languages and the promotion of inter-cultural experiences," more precisely with regards to the United States.[13]

It is partnered with the Embassy of the United States in San José.[14]

Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano logo

Costa Rican Embassy in Washington D.C.[edit]

The Costa Rican Embassy to the United States is located in Washington D.C. The Costa Rican ambassadress is Muni Figueres. The Deputy Chief of Mission is Laura Dachner.[15]


The American International School of Costa Rica serves American families in Costa Rica.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Global Leadership Project Report - 2012 Gallup
  2. ^ "Message from the Ambassador of Costa Rica to the USA". Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington DC. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  3. ^ [1], see Economy tab, Export Partners and Import Partners of Costa Rica. October 14, 2010. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  4. ^ "Segundo canje de deuda por naturaleza entre Estados Unidos y Costa Rica" (in Spanish). Embajada de los Estados Unidos San Jose, Costa Rica. October 14, 2010. Archived from the original on February 12, 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  5. ^ [2], see US-CR relations 3rd paragraph.
  6. ^ “Point West: The Political History of the Guanacaste National Park Project”
  7. ^ [3], see last paragraph
  8. ^ Ramón, Gerardo Ruiz (June 10, 2012). "Más colombianos y estadounidenses viven en Costa Rica". Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  9. ^ [4], in spanish, see Gráfico 1 (Graphic 1)
  10. ^ Mata, Esteban A. (September 5, 2012). "Asamblea avala ingreso a ocho naves antinarco de los EE. UU". Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  11. ^ "Costa Rica stirs controversy by green-lighting U.S. warships | Just the Facts - U.S. military aid to Latin America and the Caribbean". Just the Facts. July 13, 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  12. ^ "Ambassador S. Fitzgerald Haney | U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica". U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. Retrieved 2017-06-28.
  13. ^ a b "¿Quiénes Somos?". Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  14. ^ "Home | Embassy of the United States San Jose, Costa Rica". 2012-12-04. Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  15. ^ "Contact Us | Embajada de Costa Rica en DC". Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington DC. Retrieved 2013-01-08.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State website

External links[edit]