Costa Rica Industry

Costa Rica is one of the world's largest per capita producers of hydroelectric power with big installations at Lakes Arenal and Cachi. For years it exported electricity to Nicaragua and El Salvador, but domestic use increased so that much is still generated with expensive, imported oil. Recently Daylight Saving was tried in order to save power usage, but was abandoned due to public pressure and concern for children walking to school on narrow roads in the dark. Though there has been some oil exploration and talk of a trans-Costa Rican pipeline to transport Alaskan and Venezuelan oil, presently no oil is produced in the country, which has made balancing the economy difficult.

Costa Rica offers tax incentives to labor-intensive industries producing items for export. Many plants import textiles and other raw materials, hire Costa Ricans to assemble them, and export finished products such as underwear. My uniform shirts on the Alaska ferry were labeled "assembled in Costa Rica". One successful operator imports used typewriters from North America, reconditions them in a modem plant, and exports them wholesale all over Latin America. There's plenty of room for imagination here! Costa Rica would rather produce many products internally than buy with foreign exchange, but with a well-scattered population only as big as a large city, there isn't the market to make it pay.

Costa Rica's major non-agricultural industry, aside from government, is tourism. Ecotourists can find more species of birds, wildlife, and plants growing naturally here than in any other similar area. With planning, tourism can make preserved tropical forests and beaches more profitable than any other use of the same land-and keep it so forever. Recently Costa Rica has attracted travelers from all over the world and their numbers have grown rapidly. Hotels near San Jose and at the beaches and tours and lodges for nature lovers are increasing though sometimes still are less than the demand. Costa Rica has so much to offer the tourist, and does it so well, that it is rapidly being discovered by thousands who ride jets instead of tossing Spanish galleons.

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