Costa Rica enjoyed GDP of 40 billion in 2011 with analysts predicting a continued its growth rate of 4% the next few years. Tourism is far and away Costa Rica's economic driver at 71% of GDP. Industry, spurred on by the likes of Intel, Cisco, and Proctor and Gamble stands at 22.5% of GDP. Finally, 6.5% GDP, is comprised of its well known agriculture sector which produces bananas, pineapples and coffee supported by familiar brands Chiquita, Del Monte, Dole and Starbucks.

The World Bank calls Costa Rica "one of the most stable and robust" democracies in Latin America, touting its excellent overall political and economic well being. Less flattering is its 2012 ranking of Costa Rica as 121st out of 183 countries in "Ease of Doing Business".

The 2011 National Household Survey (Encuesta Nacional de Hogares) shows Costa Rican poverty as slightly worse off now than the previous year. The survey of the 1,327,554 households reveals 287,000 people living in poverty and 85,557 in extreme poverty. This means the poverty rate in Costa Rica has risen from 21.3% in 2010 to 21.6% in 2011 with extreme poverty increasing from 6% to 6.4%.

Since 2009 Costa Rica has been a participant in The US-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) or TLC as it's known in Spanish. This effort is designed to strengthen developing economies, eliminate tariffs, open markets, reduce barriers to services, and facilitate trade and investment among the seven trading countries. It has brought many changes to Costa Rica already. Most notable is the disintegration of the country's long-standing monopolies, such as telecommunications star, the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE) and the National Insurance Institute (INS). As a result of CAFTA-DR, Costa Rica ended a 48-year state telecommunications monopoly in 2011, awarding licenses to Mexico's America Movil SAB and Spain's Telefonica SA.

Costa Rican trade is not limited to its region. Chinese citizens now enjoy Costa Rican coffee, fruit juices, bananas and hearts of palm among other items under its 2011 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Costa Rica. Today China has become a heavyweight trading partner to Costa Rica second only to the United States.

While Costa Rica enjoys one of the highest standards of living in Central America it is also one of the most expensive. Hindering Costa Rica's advance for several years has been its weakening currency and high inflation which reached 13.9% in 2008. Since that time it has eased to a 2011 rate of 5.7%. Because of high import duties, new cars prices are often twice that of a new car in the United States. Fueling them is not cheap either with prices running 60% higher than the U.S.

While generally cheaper than the U.S. market, foreigners considering real-estate in Costa Rica are often surprised to find higher than expected prices. The last 30 years of U.S, Canadian and European expats enjoying the "pura vida" lifestyle has meant higher real-estate prices. Prices can vary substantially depending on location however, and have retreated from their 2007 highs of the real-estate boom.