Employment, Exports and Imports


During my visit to San José, Costa Rica I saw many women and children outside during the day, but few men. When I asked my native tour guide why it was so, he explained that most men work during the day.

A street in San José, Costa Rica

It seems that like many countries today, Costa Rica has more working men than women, and women mostly stay home and do housework and look after the children. After some picky questioning to the townspeople with my minimal Spanish (“¡Hola! Tengo una pregunta…” I had to read quite a few Spanish language books before I left on my trip!) I got a few statistics.

Three quarters (tres cuartos) of the Costa Rican population (población) are working class Costa Ricans. “Working class” in Costa Rica is farmers, gardeners, janitors, etc. Basically, the jobs that most people aren’t dying for. In Costa Rica, generally people don’t consider work as top priority, and the weekly labor time ends on Friday afternoons, and there are many national holidays. For company workers, holidays are granted easily. Clearly, the Costa Ricans have the right idea. I wish I had as many holidays as the Costa Ricans do. If anyone is looking for a job in a foreign country, I recommend Costa Rica. I mean, breaks are good, yeah? But most jobs in Costa Rica is all taken by the natives, the unemployment rate is only 7.3%. My tour guide says that most foreigners can only find jobs as English teachers and computer science workers, even if they go to special job agencies for foreigners in San José. The only alternative is to build your own business. Many townspeople say that it is much easier for a foreigner to build their own business rather than find a job because there are relatively less laws restricting foreign entrepreneurs. Apparently all you need is a visa to come to Costa Rica and a work permit to be renewed every year.

Work Permits must be approved by the government every year.

Anyways, back to the natives’ employment statistics. There are still many farmers in Costa Rica, especially away from the big cities like San José, but only 4% of farmers and other agricultural workers are female; Costa Rica is still somewhat in favor of chauvinism and think women should do housework. In general agricultural workers make up 14% of the 2.052 million people labor force. Service workers are 64% and industry workers 22%. Since the mid 1980s Costa Rica started gaining factories that make clothing, electronic devices, pesticides, fertilizer, baseballs, and processed foods. Retirement for old age seems only for the upper-middle and upper class families, 30.41% of men older than 65 still work because their families can’t afford to have them retire. Isn’t it sad– you’re old and tired and you’re back’s breaking, but you still gotta go to work.

Don’t get too excited about working in Costa Rica though, it might be comfortable and leisurely, but I can’t say that you’d earn much. An average worker only gets about $300-$500 a month, which is demasiado pequeño, and the richer people get $1500-$2000 a month. I have to admit that I do like money, and I wouldn’t like to work in Costa Rica if my pay was so small. It is enough to support a person’s monthly life, but many middle class townspeople has complaints about their pays– many of them do use it to support their whole family and there is usually practically nothing left over for savings, and each family needs more than one breadwinner.

Some fertilizers that could be made in Costa Rica. Due to the large farming industry and its plant exports, fertilizers and pesticide manufacture has become an important industry in Costa Rica.

Processed foods. These foods aren't the healthiest choices, but Costa Ricans love them, and some brands are shipped to foreign countries. For more information on food choices and the foods liked in Costa Rica, visit my page Food and Clothing!

Exports and Imports of Costa Rica

Passing by a supermarket on my fourth day of traveling, I asked my guide to stop so I could browse. When I stepped in I saw an average supermarket, supermercado, not much different from stores in other countries.

A supermarket in San José.

I was walking mindlessly through the aisles when I got curious about the exports and imports of Costa Rica. My guide told me “Lo siento (I’m sorry), no sé sobre ése (I don’t know about that)”, so I cracked some newspapers and other resources later that day. Major exports in the early 20th century was coffee and bananas. If you go to a coffee shop with baristas in it you can still ask for Costa Rican coffee, Costa Rican coffee has a deep flowery scent to it and it’s taste is powerful. As time went on the exporting industry boomed and soon Costa Ricans were exporting coffee, bananas, pineapples (piña), brown sugar, cattle, meat products, lumber cocoa, root vegetables, nuts, medicine, gold, and vegetable oil. Costa Rica is a blessed land with tons of different fruits and vegetables and other vegetation not found in most other countries, and Costa Ricans take advantage of it and export their things. Electronics have become a recent export in Costa Rica, Costa Ricans recently found out that they have a knack for running factories to assemble electronics.

However, Costa Rica does lack a few important things needed for life, and these things they import. For example, Costa Ricans have many cars, coches, buses,omnibuses, trucks, camiones, and motorcycles, motocicletas. Richer people, especially in the city, have found a liking for cars since the 1990s and the number of cars has been jumping each year. When I was in Costa Rica myself, I saw traffic comparable to the states on weekends and Friday nights. Motorcycles have become a trend among younger people; they are handy to zip through cars in traffic and enjoy speed. In the country, especially in farming areas, trucks can be widely seen. Farmers have to transport their goods to markets and ports and trucks are handy when moving large luggage. So in Costa Rica, there are many people that need oil. And so, Costa Rica, a country without oil, imports oil from the middle east. Costa Rica mostly imports raw materials they need for industrial things like raw metal ores and jewels, oil, coal, and others.

Other smaller things Costa Rica imports are random goods for consumers like electronic appliances, different foods, clothing, etc. Costa Rica’s major trading countries (suppliers and buyers), are Japan, Germany, Spain, Guatemala, Mexico, and Venezuela.


2 Responses to “Employment, Exports and Imports”

  1. Aysem Bray September 23, 2011 at 3:16 PM #

    Very well done Amy! Thanks!


  1. ¡Aviso Importante! « All About Costa Rica! - September 15, 2011

    […] Employment, Exports and Imports […]

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