Democracy and rights
Costa Rica is usually called Latin America's
oldest democracy, with two short exceptions it has stood
since 1889. The country is characterized by stable
institutions and deeply rooted freedoms and rights.
In rankings of countries by level of democracy, Costa
Rica and Uruguay and possibly Chile play in their own
league compared to the rest of Latin America and the
Caribbean. Both Costa Rica and Uruguay are sometimes
called "Latin America's Switzerland" with the aim that,
in addition to stable democracies, they are also equal
societies with high economic prosperity, at least
relative to the region. In the Economist Intelligence
Unit compilation, the two, as well as Chile and Canada,
are the only countries in the Western Hemisphere that in
2019 are classified as "full-fledged democracies" (only
22 countries in the world are counted by the EIU).
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Costa Rica, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Nevertheless, the Costa Rican's image of his country
has been somewhat blurred due to disclosures in 2017
about a top-level corruption scandal. The scandal
involving cement imports from China cast shadows on
political leaders, several parties and, not least, the
In Transparency International's corruption index,
Costa Rica is ranked 44 out of 180 countries. It is a
worse position than the country gets in measurements
relating to political freedoms and rights (the entire
list is here).
The country also receives some criticism for
discrimination against LGBTQ people and the indigenous
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press and opinion is guaranteed by the
Constitution and respected in reality. Journalists can
generally work freely and legislation protects the right
to information. In Reporters Without Borders Press
Freedom Index, Costa Rica is ranked 7 out of 180
countries (the entire list is here).
Despite this, some problems are reported with threats
and also violence against journalists, including during
demonstrations and especially in connection with
elections. A certain self-censorship is also applied
among journalists as a result of legislation that can,
among other things, impose high fines for slander and
mean that journalists are placed on a list of convicted
criminals. Up until 2010, convictions for slander could
also give prison.
Press freedom organizations have criticized an
Internet law passed by Parliament in 2013, which means
that anyone who reveals state secrets about the nation's
security or foreign relations risks imprisonment for up
to six years.
Judicial system and legal security
The judiciary is considered to be independent of
political involvement and the rule of law is
predominantly good. Previous problems with overcrowded
prisons have largely been remedied, but complaints
appear on slow court processes.
Crime has increased as a result of the drug
trafficking-related crime afflicting large parts of the
region, even in Costa Rica. The number of murders has
risen sharply, even a decrease has been noted since
2017. The murder rate is still only about a fraction
compared to the rest of Central America and was also low
for the whole of Latin America. However, the increased
presence of organized crime raises great concern.