Costa Rica - Migration



In 1995, 24,600 refugees were in Costa Rica. Of these, 4,200 were from El Salvador and 19,500 were from Nicaragua. Large numbers of Nicaraguans migrate seasonally to Costa Rica seeking employment opportunities. Illegal migration is a major national concern, with estimates of 300,000 to 500,000 in 1999, mostly from Nicaragua. In the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, Costa Rica declared an amnesty, which expired on 31 July 1999. While intended primarily for aliens from Belize and Panama, UNHCR secured a provision that extended the amnesty to refugees. Under the amnesty, some 160,000 people applied for permanent residence. In 2000 there were 311,000 migrants living in Costa Rica, including 5,500 refugees. The net migration rate in that year was 5.3 migrants per 1,000 population. The government viewed the immigration level as too high.

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