U.S. Relations With Costa Rica

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Fact Sheet
February 9, 2018


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.

U.S.-COSTA RICA RELATIONS

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 own history and 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, and 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 and security cooperation, and 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 120,000 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

The U.S. Strategy for Central America (Strategy) guides U.S. diplomatic efforts and foreign assistance in the region. The Strategy is a bipartisan, multi-year U.S. government plan covering all seven Central American countries (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama). The Strategy aims to secure U.S. borders and protect American citizens by addressing the security, governance, and economic drivers of illegal immigration and transnational crime, while increasing opportunities for U.S. and other businesses. The Strategy focuses on three overarching lines of action: 1) promoting prosperity, 2) enhancing security, and 3) improving governance. The United States is working hand-in-hand with a wide range of Costa Rican government agencies and non-governmental organizations to secure Costa Rica’s borders, 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 inclusion, 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 about 40 percent of Costa Rica's exports, imports, tourism, and foreign direct investment. U.S. exports to Costa Rica include automotive parts and supplies, renewable energy, franchises, hotel and restaurant equipment, healthcare products, and construction equipment. U.S. imports from Costa Rica include medical devices, 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

Principal U.S. 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
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
Export.gov International Offices Page
Travel Information