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What About Costa Rica Safety?
Concerns about Costa Rica safety are heightened among those thinking about relocating to Costa Rica. Recent murders of American citizens, Kurt Hergis in La Fortuna in February and Stephen Rutkiewicz in Guanacaste in December have served as an impetus for the rise in concern.Unbiased responses can be challenging since many who contribute information from the English speaking community have a vested interest in bringing in expats who are liquid and looking to invest in Costa Rica. Caution needs to be exercised and a doubtful thought process should be used when listening to real estate agents or relocation agents.
According to recent statistics Costa Rica (10 murders per 10,000) is less violent than its neighboring countries in Central America (28.5 murders per 10,000). This is in comparison to the United States which has a murder rate (4.7 per 10,000). In Canada the rate is even lower (1.6 per 10,000). The statistics have been compiled globally by the United Nations in 2012.
Costa Ricans have an unrealistic view of relative criminal activity as compared to the United States since the periodic mass shooting in the United States has the tendency to dominate world news. Physical violence in the United States for the most part is focused in urban city centers, such as Detroit (54.6 murders per 100,000) or Baltimore (34.9 murders per 100,000). Total rates for murder continue to be low in the United States since it is a nation of 313 million individuals.
Costa Rica, with 4.8 million people is by per capita more dangerous than the United States. Some say that much of the physical violence is a direct result of the drug trade that exist between South and Central America and the United States. For example, neighboring Honduras (91.6 murders per 10,000) and El Salvador (69.2 murders per 10,000) are the two most violent nations in the world. The Security Ministry furthered this opinion by reporting that immigrants and others that are difficult to account for contribute significantly to the violence in Costa Rica.
Expats tend to notice the violence as it affects their own peer group or comes into their community. There is relatively small English language coverage of the shootings and murders that take place in southern San Jose or the Caribbean coast. Objectively, the drug related violence in these areas is the kind of thing that is not likely to affect a tourist or expat directly. However, violence has a tendency to eventually cross borders and social divisions. Thus violence in places like Limon will eventually impact everyone who lives here.