According to the Latinobarómetro Corporation, a non-profit public survey company located in Providencia, Chile, Costa Rica has the highest percentage of Facebook and WhatsApp users in Latin America. The study found that 77% of the population uses Facebook, while 83% uses WhatsApp. This percentage was much higher than in countries with larger populations. Costa Rica’s population is roughly 5 million inhabitants while larger nations such as Mexico and Brazil have over 100 million and 200 million inhabitants, respectively. Only around 58% of Mexico and Brazil’s population use Facebook. To put that in perspective, only 68% of Americans have Facebook, according to a recent study done by the Pew Research Center in 2018.
Similarly, George Gordon, regional director for Uber Latin America, revealed last August in a press release that Costa Rica has the highest user per capita rate in Latin America as well, with nearly 800,000 users and 22,000 drivers. If one thing can be deduced from these studies is that Costa Rica loves its social media.
What does this mean for tourists visiting the country? It means that visitors to Costa Rica will not feel disconnected while abroad. Travelers here can expect easy access to Wi-Fi hotspots where they can enjoy their social media of choice. In fact, most hotels and hostels offer free complimentary Wi-Fi and most American mobile companies, such as T-Mobile, offer data roaming for its users abroad. Want to keep up to date with family members back home but don’t want to incur any extra charges? Try downloading WhatsApp to call and send messages for free. Met someone you’d like to stay in contact with? They probably have Facebook or WhatsApp. Trying to find that restaurant all the locals keep talking about but can’t find it on Google Maps? It probably has a Facebook page, with easy to follow directions and contact info.
When it comes to using social media, privacy can often be a problem when visiting foreign countries. Oftentimes, governments regularly spy on their population’s internet activities. This is not the case in Costa Rica. A March 2016 report by the Association for Progressive Communication stated the following:
“Costa Rica has laws that recognize and protect the following rights: privacy, freedom of expression, honor, freedom of conscience, religion, association and assembly, and non-discrimination. The laws are backed up by national doctrine and jurisprudence, that is, judicial literature and sentences that recognize and mold an environment for the protection of these rights.”
The report further found and documented that, “There are no known examples of illegal practices by public or private organizations that infringe these rights online. Neither are there known examples of surveillance by the state in contravention of these rights.” This should be a relief to many who worry that their accounts might be hacked while on holiday.
Overall, visitors to Costa Rica will find that their social media experience will be a rewarding one. With free and accessible internet, a high percentage of users, and private browsing, tourists can rest at ease when planning their next vacation to Costa Rica. All they’ll need to keep an eye out is the number of likes and shares.