The Truth About Costa Rica

By Paul Homewood


A coffee plantation in Costa Rica

We in the West are often urged to be more like Costa Rica. It was only the other day that the UN’s Joyce Msuya declared that the country was a “superb example of what middle income countries can achieve”, with high levels of wellbeing, life expectancy and environmental protection.

Christiana Figueres, who comes from Costs Rica, is another who constantly bangs the drum, reminding us that it now gets virtually all of its electricity from renewable sources and has reversed deforestation.

In fact, things are not quite as simple as the pair of them make out. Let’s see some of the things Wikipedia have to say about the country:


The first thing to note is that, almost uniquely amongst Latin American states, Costa Rica has long had stable democracy. It is this, which above all other things, has built the base on which much else follows, including good health and education systems, and a strong economy:



Thanks to that stability, GDP per capita is by far the highest in the region, with the exception of Panama. In particular, that stability, coupled with low inflation, has encouraged substantial foreign investment, notably from the wicked United States, which now supports over 100,000 jobs, in a population of 5 million.

Thanks to this high GDP, Costa Rica can afford to run a high quality healthcare and education system, which in turn creates the next generation of skilled labour.



Costa Rica also depends heavily on tourism, which will largely disappear if Msuya and her chums succeed in doing away with air travel for the masses.



What about all of this wonderful renewable energy though?

Well, it turns out that the vast majority of it comes from hydro power. As is pointed out, Costa Rica is fortunate enough to have an abundance of waterfalls and tropical rainforests, something we don’t happen to have here! Another chunk comes from geothermal, which again is dependent on the availability of volcanoes. By contrast, wind and solar power contribute very little. Even the Costa Ricans seem to have worked out that weather dependent energy is a waste of time.




Far from the picture Msuya paints, Costa Rica is a relatively well off country with a high level of wellbeing, precisely because it has followed the western model of stable democracy and economic growth. Not because it has followed the path of so many other developing countries.


May 17, 2021 at 06:18AM

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