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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Relations With Costa Rica

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Fact Sheet
July 29, 2015


More information about Costa Rica is available on the Costa Rica Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States established diplomatic relations with Costa Rica in 1851, following its independence from Spain and the later dissolution of a federation of Central American states. The United States and Costa Rica have a history of close and friendly relations based on mutual respect for democratic freedoms, free trade, and other shared values. Costa Rica’s record on the environment, human rights, and advocacy for the peaceful settlement of disputes give it a weight in world affairs far beyond its size. This record also means that Costa Rica and the United States often share similar positions (votes) in international fora. The United States and Costa Rica enjoy robust bilateral law enforcement cooperation. The two countries have signed a maritime cooperation agreement that facilitates narcotics seizures, illegal migrant rescues, illegal fishing seizures, and search-and-rescue missions.

The United States and Costa Rica share a strong commitment to working to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as preserving Costa Rica's important and rich biological diversity. The U.S. and Costa Rican Governments, the Central Bank of Costa Rica, and The Nature Conservancy have concluded agreements that provide funding for the conservation, restoration, and protection of tropical forests.

It is estimated that approximately 100,000 private American citizens, including many retirees, reside in the country and more than a million American citizens visit Costa Rica annually.

U.S. Assistance to Costa Rica

Through the Central America Regional Security Initiative, the United States is helping Costa Rica secure its borders, train its Coast Guard and new Border Police, design and construct land border crossings, professionalize its police, strengthen its judicial sector,  improve its corrections system, and empower at-risk youth.  Peace Corps volunteers work in economic development, education, and youth empowerment programs, and U. S. Embassy programs promote entrepreneurship, economic opportunity, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States and Costa Rica are parties to the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which aims to facilitate trade and investment and further regional integration by eliminating tariffs, opening markets, reducing barriers to services, and promoting transparency. CAFTA-DR contains a chapter on investment similar to a bilateral investment treaty with the United States.

The United States is Costa Rica's largest trading partner, accounting for almost half of Costa Rica's exports, imports, and tourism, and over half of its foreign direct investment.  U.S. exports to Costa Rica include machinery, oil, agricultural products, plastic, and semiconductors.  U.S. imports from Costa Rica include medical instruments, pineapples bananas, and coffee.

Costa Rica's Membership in International Organizations

Costa Rica and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization of American States, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador is S. Fitzgerald Haney; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Costa Rica maintains an embassy in the United States at 2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-480-2200).

More information about Costa Rica is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Costa Rica Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Costa Rica Page
U.S. Embassy: Costa Rica
History of U.S. Relations With Costa Rica
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics International Offices Page
Travel and Business Information

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