With security levels being lower across many countries in Latin America, it’s normal for Americans to worry about their personal safety when visiting. After all, they can make for easy targets, either due to not speaking the local language, carrying valuable tourist dollars on them, or not being knowledgeable about local customs. Luckily, one of the continent’s most popular destinations is also one of its safest.
This year, a number of countries in Latin America have seen violent acts erupt, from Brazil’s anti-democratic protests, which culminated in the storming of the Congress, to Colombia’s latest crime surge and Peru’s widespread civil unrest. It should come as no surprise U.S. citizens are thinking twice about their pending South American holiday.
Unless, of course, it’s Costa Rica where they’re headed to:
Costa Rica Is Very Safe For Tourists
Located in the narrow isthmus that connects both the Northern and Southern parts of America, more specifically in Central America, Costa Rica is home to an impossibly diverse topography, at least for a country of its size, comprising vast tropical forests and mountainous terrains, inland lakes and majestic waterfalls, and coastlines straddling the Caribbean as well as the Pacific oceans.
When it comes to natural offers and outdoor activities, it couldn’t be more inviting. City and culture lovers have plenty of reasons to love Costa Rica, too: its capital, San Jose, is a bustling metropolis well-equipped with trendy bars, five-star restaurants, and a busy cityscape, while smaller towns like Nicoya, in the province of Guanacaste, are famous for their colonial architecture and rich tradition.
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And then there is safety: of all the Latin American countries, particularly in the Central belt, where underdevelopment, corruption, and even authoritarianism is rampant, Costa Rica is often described as the country with the lower crime levels, the most stable economy, the highest quality of life, and most democratic government.
It is an unlikely success story in an extremely volatile region, and its reputation precedes it: the latest research conducted by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (abbreviated to ICT in Spanish) concluded that an overwhelming majority of foreign tourists perceive Costa Rica as a safe destination. To be more precise, it attained a safety score of 93% during the evaluation.
A Majority Of Americans Are Not Affected By Crime Visiting Costa Rica
The United States is by far the leading country of origin in terms of tourist arrivals, so we can safely infer that Americans are not concerned about crime or affected by violence when vacationing in Costa Rica. William Rodriguez, the Minister of Tourism, was quoted saying the results are ‘positive for the country’, especially now that crime rates have increased year-on-year.
As reported by local news source Monumental, Costa Rica is experiencing its own spike in violence. The situation is not nearly as bad as Colombia’s or Brazil’s, but the numbers have been on an upward trend nonetheless. From January 1 up to January 13, 29 homicides had been recorded, 7 more than in the same period in the previous year.
It is worth mentioning tourists have not been targeted, and these crimes have been known to occur in suburban areas foreigners do not visit routinely. In general, they feel very ‘comfortable’ touring the country, as stated by Rodriguez, and Costa Rica remains Central America’s safe haven, despite the slight increase in homicides compared to 2022.
Last year, Costa Rica was the second-highest-ranking American country in the Global Peace Index, behind only Canada, and the 38th most peaceful sovereign state in the world. Additionally, the U.S. Department of State considers Costa Rica a Level 2 destination, a downgrade from the Level 1 status it enjoyed throughout 2022, but still a positive and acceptable result.
Is Costa Rica Safer Than The U.S.?
Several U.S. cities have murder rates that are higher than Costa Rica’s 11.5 per 100,000 people, most notably St. Louis in Missouri, recently named the most dangerous city in the States (64.5 per 100,000). In sum, petty crime is the primary concern for tourists in Costa Rica, though a majority of visits will be fulfilled completely trouble-free.
Violent crime, including armed robbery, can occur, but it is not as frequent, and the Costa Rican Government has previously deployed ‘additional security resources’ in touristy spots to keep visitors safe. The Minister of Tourism concluded himself that the country must be ready to meet the demands of tourists ‘in terms of security and services’.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com