July 1, 2001
Central American countries have some of the worst performing economies in Latin America. Political instability, deep poverty and natural disasters plague the region. Costa Rica, which for generations has supported relatively high standards of living and a stable democracy, operates in a different league. Its per capita GDP of $3,600 is the highest in Central America.
Costa Rica has successfully shifted its economy from one based mainly on coffee and banana exports to one based on value-added goods such as computer parts and services. It has also created a highly successful eco-tourism industry thanks to its thick rain forests and unspoiled beaches.
In 1997, Intel, the world's b
Costa Rica enjoys one of Latin America's highest standards of living and has attracted key technology-based investment. But the government must energize public sector reforms to rev up a slowing economy.