It makes my skin crawl when I hear someone refer to Costa Rica as the Third World. It is usually because of something minor, like their steak was overdone, so they figure they are in the Third World. Anyone who has traveled at all knows that Costa Rica is way up there among first world nations. It is a stable democracy in the midst of many troubled governments. Their economy is among the best in Latin America. Because of the US commitment to protect them, Costa Rica has no army - and consequently no enemies. The money saved on an army is put back into education and health care. Everyone in Costa Rica has access to health care. The World Health Organization ranks Costa Rica's health care right next to that of the USA. Everybody has a home in Costa Rica. There is no homeless problem. Everyone eats. The middle class does not live in the style of the US citizens, but here it is not necessary to live that way. They seem content with what they have.
Costa Ricans think beyond themselves. Their land is so beautiful that twenty-five percent of the country is protected in National Parks. They have a woman president here. Discrimination is not allowed, nor is the mistreatment of children. Signs in the airport remind visitors that it is a crime to have sex with any Costa Rican under eighteen. Costa Ricans are making movies, running day care, teaching in universities and a former president won a Nobel Peace Prize. Parliament has just passed a bill with specific laws regarding solid waste management. Everybody here recycles. Public transit is convenient and inexpensive. So the next time your steak is overdone, remember that you are in Costa Rica, a classy, First World country.