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Costa Rica Has Highest Percentage of Immigrants

Costa Rica has the highest percentage of immigrants in Central America, according to the study Labor Market and Social Policies, of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The immigrant population tripled more between 1984 and 2000 and continued to increase later, although, at a slower rate, the research refers and states that Costa Rica had about 411,408 people born abroad in 2015, 40% more than in 2000. The foreign-born population covers all people who have ever migrated from their country of birth to their current country of residence.

Although the available data do not allow for a clear distinction between the reasons for migration, immigration seems to be fundamentally related to the search for employment, according to the OECD study.

Hence, labor migration to Costa Rica has been mainly determined by the stable political climate, good socioeconomic conditions related to neighboring countries, which share a common language and labor market opportunities especially for low-skilled people, the note says.

The persistent demand for unskilled labor in agriculture, construction, tourism and domestic service, along with networks of Nicaraguan emigrants developed as time goes by in those sectors, has maintained a high influx of that country during the last three decades, the document states.

Immigrants from Nicaragua represent three quarters (74.5%) of all people born abroad, those from Colombia (4.3%), followed by Spain (4.2%), the United States (4.1%) and Panama (2.4%).  Other nationalities with significant communities are from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, El Salvador and Venezuela.

For several years there has been a remarkable migratory movement of Europeans (especially Spaniards, Bulgarians, Russians, Ukrainians, Swiss and Swedish), Asians (Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese) who are settling in the country, attracted by political stability, an alternative way of life and a mild climate.

The research states that the country has a net migration rate of six per 1,000 inhabitants, the second highest one after Canada in the Americas and greater than in many OECD countries.