Mention Costa Rica to the average tourist and you will probably conjure images of pristine beaches, dense rainforests and good coffee.
Yet, for all the natural resources that Costa Rica has been blessed with, there is a more infamous industry that flourishes right alongside – and arguably in support of – the family-friendly packages: that is, prostitution.
The ‘oldest profession’ is perfectly legal for anyone over the age of eighteen in Costa Rica. While the law forbids promoting or facilitating the prostitution of another, such as brothels or pimping, the skin trade is largely unregulated; primarily because the government, as well as your average Costa Rican, will downplay the fact that the increasingly international sex trade is and has always been a major income generator for the country.
Costa Rica is head and shoulders above its Central and South American neighbors in terms of political stability and basic living conditions. Given this fact, it is quite easy to understand why women (and men) from nearby countries, namely Columbia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic choose to take up shop in Costa Rica, particularly in areas with the most foreign tourists.
The explosive growth of the adult industry has prompted the Costa Rican government to provide sex workers with support and assistance despite its misgivings. ID cards are carried by all registered prostitutes for both their – and the clients’ – safety and security alike.
And while the Costa Rican government will not openly admit it, prostitution in many ways and on many levels is discreetly the supporting factor that drives the country’s many other forms of tourism.