About Costa Rica
The phrase “pura vida” literally translated means “pure life,” but its nuanced meaning of “living life to the fullest” is as rich and complex as the country itself. Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse and socially-diverse countries in the world. Teeming with life of every kind, Costa Rica is a land of vibrant natural wonder. It’s warm and welcoming people and much of its wildlife and ecosystems are found nowhere else.
Yet, in the same way that its diverse ecosystems coexist, there are people in great need living among those who have much. In these places of great need, ISL participates in volunteer work led by our Costa Rican staff.
Panama (thought to mean “an abundance of fish”) is a Central American country bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, Colombia, and Costa Rica. Panama has been a stable democracy since 1990. Prosperous and progressive, Panama has the second largest Central American economy. While Panama is known for the Panama Canal and its tropical fruit exports, tourism is becoming an important industry.
Twenty percent of Panama’s land is protected, belonging to the tribes of its indigenous people–one of the largest percentages in the world.
The unemployment rate in Panama is 4.8%, and 11% of the population lives in poverty— on less than one dollar a day. Many of the poor are immigrants from Colombia, Venezuela, and Cuba. These are the communities where ISL volunteers serve.