Costa Rica, personal safety in Central America

Costa Rica is geographically located in Central America. It is bordered to the north by Nicaragua, to the south by Panama and has the Caribbean to the east and the Pacific to the east. It covers 51,060 square kilometres. On 1 January 2019, its population was a little over 5 million.

The murder rate per 100,000 has been on a downward trend since 2017 and as 2019 ends it is at 11.2, the lowest level in the period, and below the average for Latin America, which is 20.1.

The homicide rate in 2018 was 11.7 per 100,000, almost half the figure for Latin America. In 2018 there were 586 homicides, 16 fewer than in 2017. That fall is the first in the last 6 years, with homicide trending up in Costa Rica since 2012.

In 2018, 91% of murder victims were men; despite that, the rate of homicides against women rose by 0.3 percentage points in comparison with 2017. The principal victims of homicide are men aged 18-30. Men in that age band made up 41% of victims.

The provinces of San José and Limón saw the highest number of homicides. One in every two homicides in the country was committed in those two provinces.

In 2018 there were 504 reported rapes and cases of sexual abuse. Those offences show a greater decrease relative to 2017, with a fall of 5%.

Approximately 9 out of 10 reports were made by women, and the principal victims were aged 15-17. The rate of rape in this group of women is 4 times higher than in other age groups.

Crimes against property are the most frequently reported in Costa Rica. The main property crime is theft, with a total of 18,489 reported offences in 2018, 31% of the total.

Most thefts were, however, committed against people. However, thefts from homes and vehicles are a larger proportion than muggings. Finally, robbery is principally committed against homes, followed by vehicles.


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