Costa Rica’s Homicide Rate in 2023 is 2.50 Per Day or 17.73 Murders Per 100,000 Inhabitants

2023 is the Most Violent Year in the Country’s History

By Eddie Galdamez  | Updated on Dec 1st, 2023
Costa Rica's Homicide RateViolence in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s Homicide Rate in 2023 is 2.50 per day or 17.73 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. This year, Costa Rican authorities have recorded 836 murders, 175 more than the 661 reported in 2022. The country has already exceeded last year’s record numbers by 26.48%.

This year, the country known for safety and security has reached record highs in homicides; the Rodrigo Chaves government is struggling to address the mounting security problems.

Costa Rica has long been recognized for its reputation as a safe and stable country with a strong emphasis on environmental conservation, a robust education system, and a booming tourism industry. However, this year, the country is witnessing an alarming rise in homicide rates, which could potentially tarnish its image as a Pura Vida destination.

Costa Rica’s Homicide Rate
Month 2022 2023 2022-2023 Change
January 60 77 17 (28.33%)
February 51 71 20 (39.22%)
March 46 66 20 (43.48%)
April 48 85 37 (77.08%)
May 54 76 22 (40.74%)
June 52 73 21 (40.38%)
July 53 69 16 (30.19%)
August 58 88 30 (51.72%)
September 45 75 30 (66.67%)
October 68 78 10 (14.71%)
November 62 78 16 (25.81)
December 64
Total 661 836 +175 (26.48%)
Per Day 1.81 2.50
Per 100,000 inhabitants 12.8 17.7

SEE ALSO: Central America Homicide Rate

Costa Rica has experienced an increase in homicides every month in 2023 compared to the previous year. April 2023 saw the most significant growth with 37 more murders, a 77.08% rise from the same month in 2022.

This year, the provinces with the highest homicide totals are San Jose, registering 206, and Limon, close behind with 205. Puntarenas follows with 130, and Alajuela with 94.

Cost Rica’s Homicide Rate
Province 2022 2023 2022-2023 Change
San Jose 120 206 86 (71.67%)
Limon 170 205 35 (20.59%)
Puntarenas 111 130 19 (17.12%)
Alajuela 107 94 -13 (-12.15%)
Guanacaste 61 91 30 (49.18%)
Cartago 43 66 23 (53.49%)
Heredia 49 44 -5 (-10.20%)

Alajuela and Heredia are the two provinces that have recorded a lower number of homicides compared to the previous year.

Costa Rican authorities have taken a variety of measures to stem the recent increase in drug trafficking and homicides. However, the homicides seem to be increasing.

Drug trafficking and organized crime have driven the spike in homicides to a country known for safety. These criminal groups fight over control of territories for drug selling and distribution.

Costa Rica has historically been a stepping stone for Colombian cocaine in route to the United States and Europe. Seizures spiked 56% in 2020 and stayed high in 2021, possibly signaling an increased role in the trade. But in 2022, seizures dropped 46%. InSightCrime.

The Rodrigo Chaves administration has taken steps to deal with the issue. For example, in February, it announced millions of dollars in assistance from the United States to combat drug trafficking.

Then, in May, Costa Rica’s legislature increased pretrial detention periods as a part of a series of anti-organized crime reforms.

Lastly, in July, the government launched Operation Sovereignty (Operación Soberanía) in Moín, with authorities promising to scan every container transiting through the port in search of drugs.

Costa Rica is not a producer of narcotic substances; however, its location makes it one of the largest export platforms of narcotics to many nations.

The increase in homicides not only increases the feeling of citizen insecurity but also damages the image of a country that, until a few years ago, enjoyed the lowest figures of violence in Central America.