The San Jose area in the Central Valley of Costa Rica is a high technology center. Intel, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Abbott Laboratories, and other high technology companies have major facilities there. Western Union has its Latin America regional operations center in Costa Rica. Boston Scientific has recently announced that during the next year it will double the number of its 1,700 workers in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is sometimes called the "Silicon Valley of Latin America." It is attractive to high tech companies because it has the highest literacy and most educated workforce in the region, thanks to Costa Rica having abolished its military in the late 1940's and investing its military budget in education and health care. Costa Rica has an initiative underway to increase English education.
Costa Rica's laws are also favorable to foreign investment. Costa Rica is the only country in the world to have approved a free trade agreement by a vote of its people. Because of its democratic traditions, opponents of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) were able to cause the treaty to be submitted to a popular election. Although many farmers and labor unions feared a flood of imports, particularly from the giant economy of the USA, the public voted in favor of free trade.
While I am on the subject of free trade, I should mention that Costa Rica is currently trying to conclude 16 years of negotiation of a revised trade agreement with Europe that would equalize the import duties between Costa Rican and African bananas. Costa Rica is the world's third largest banana exporting country, but Europe charges higher tariffs on Costa Rican bananas than it does for African bananas. This makes no sense and is unfair.
Our photos this week on Viva la Voyage show Xcaret, an eco-park with a dinner show extravaganza on the Riviera Maya south of Cancun, Mexico.