We have spent time during the past several months exploring ways to help young people improve their reading skills while at the same time learning about the geography of the Americas. PANAM KC Board member, Dr. Kathleen Howe, Assistant Professor for Literacy Education at Park University among other positions, has developed an initiative which we hope to launch in the near future.

On February 29, 2020 The Pan American Association of Kansas City partnered with the University of Kansas Center of Latin American and Caribbean Studies in sponsoring a pilot Pan American Summit for Community College Students. Multiple Community Colleges participated.

This new pilot program format did not follow the formal Model OAS procedures. The program centered on collaborative learning about the importance of the Americas, the Organization of American States, and the individual countries of the Americas by student teams. The program began with an orientation on the importance of the Americas and information about the purpose and activities of the Organization of American States. Each student team developed a Resolution based on a topic pertaining to their assigned country, and then presented their resolution to their fellow student-delegates in the audience. A prize was awarded for the best presentation based on knowledgeable content and presentation by a panel of PANAMKC judges. Students were enthusiastic and engaged. Teachers expressed hope that the event would be repeated.

PANAM KC had planned to partner with the Johnson County Community College in sponsoring a Model OAS simulation whereby area high school students would engage in collaborative learning about the importance of the Americas, the Organization of American States, about the individual countries of the Americas and issues confronting those countries. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus the program has been cancelled until further notice.

We are in the discussion stages on sponsoring another Grand Boulevard of the Americas, High School Student, and Education through Art Competition. The previous competition, in 2015, was a pilot competition and it was a great success. Country assignments were divided up among the participating schools so that each school competed against another school for their assigned countries. Teachers then assigned countries to students. Students were required to study their assigned country and create original art representing the culture of the country.

Over 400 students from 17 area high schools participated. We had approximately 230 pieces of art submitted for judging. A panel of professional judges selected 70 pieces (2 per country) to be displayed adjacent to the national flag banner of each of the 35 sovereign countries of the Americas. The display of the national flag banners of the sovereign countries of the Americas, along the Grand Boulevard of the Americas began in 2010. Each country’s flag is displayed approximately 4 times along the length of the Boulevard. Student art banners displayed, 2 per country, were displayed next to the national flag banners, in a section of the Boulevard. The student original art was displayed in an Exhibit at the Kansas City Museum and posters were created of the original art and were displayed at an Exhibit at the OAS F Street Gallery, where it was view by its officials, Ambassadors, staff, U. S. State Department and other agencies personnel and the public.

We are spotlighting Costa Rica, a beautiful country in Central America in this issue.

Jim Malouff

PROFILE: Costa Rica

A few practicle tips for doing business in Costa Rica

Banner-Costa rica


  • Lunch is the main meal of the day.
  • Outside of the San José area, most small businesses, restaurants and hotels require payment in the local currency - Colones.
  • Restaurant bills will almost always include tax and tip except in certain tourist areas, where a 10% tip is totally acceptable.
  • When flying out of Costa Rica, you`ll pay a $28 exit fee.
  • Spanish is the predominant language.


  • Patience is necessary.
  • In meetings, it is important to engage in small talk first e.g. family, beauty of Costa Rica etc.
  • A well-groomed look is important.
  • Suit and tie are appropriate for men and dress or skirt and blouse for women.
  • Have business cards in Spanish and English.  Be sure to read those received.
  • Handshakes are important for all occasions.
  • Establishing connections is important.
  • Make appointments in advance via mail, email, fax or phone.  Confirm by phone before arrival.
  • Promptness is not practiced. Delays of 30 minutes are common. However, you should be there at the scheduled time just in case.
  • Costa Ricans don`t take midday naps (siestas).
  • Conflicts should be handled in an indirect way.  Don`t embarrass anybody.



Costa Rica is in Central America. It borders both the Caribbean Sea and the north Pacific Ocean.  It is between Nicaragua and Panama.

Brief History

In 1563, Spain established a colony in the central highlands of the country.  In 1821, Costa Rica, along with other provinces, declared its independence from Spain.  Two years later, Costa Rica joined the United Provinces of Central America, but this federation dissolved in 1838 and Costa Rica declared its independence

  • Size: Slightly smaller than West Virginia Population Distribution: About half of the population is urban. 
  • San José is the largest city and has approximately 1/5 of the country’s population.
  • Population: 5.0 M (July, 2018 est.)
  • Population Growth: 1.13% (2018 est.)
  • Literacy Rate: 97.8% (2019)
  • Government: Presidential republic
  • Capital City: San José


Since 2010, Costa Rica has experienced strong and stable growth.  It has a diverse economy with a strong agricultural sector - and a growing manufacturing and service base. Because of its diversity in animal species and plants, it has become an attractive ecotourism destination.  It also has a well-educated labor force.

  • GDP: $58.27B (2017 est.)
  • GDP Growth Rate: 3.3% (2017 est.)
  • Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (2017 est.)
  • Exchange Rate: 1 US Dollar = 581.95 CRC`s (Costa Rican Colon) 11/8/19 11.42 AM
  • Labor Force: 2.29.M (2017 est.)
  • Labor Force Makeup: Agriculture – 12.46%, Industry – 18.41%, Services – 69.14% (2018 est.)

Major Industries: Agriculture (bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes, beef, dairy, timber), medical equipment, food processing, textiles, clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products, contract manufacturing

International Trade

Total Exports: $10.81B (2017 est.)

  • Major Exports: optical, technical, medical apparatus, fruits and nuts, miscellaneous process foods, coffee, tea, vegetable preparations, live trees, plants, cut flowers, vegetables, animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes, spices, dairy, eggs, honey, miscellaneous manufactured articles
  • Major Export Partners: US - 29%, Benelux – 12.8%, China (including Hong Kong) – 9.2%, Germany – 5.2%, Mexico - 3% (2017)

Total Exports: $10.81B (2017 est.

Major Imports: raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction

  • Major Import Partners: US - 38%, China - 14%, Mexico – 9.2% (2017)

Sampling of English Language News Sites

Sampling of Costa Rican Companies

Sampling of Costa Rican Companies

  • December 25, 2019 - Christmas
  • January 1 - New Year`s Day
  • April 9 - Easter Thursday
  • April 10 - Easter Friday
  • April 11 - Juan Santamaria Day
  • May 1 - Labor Day
  • July 25 - Guanacaste Day
  • August 2 - Virgin of Los Angeles Day
  • August 15 - Mother`s Day
  • September 15 - Independence Day
  • October 12 - Cultures Day
  • December 25 - Christmas
Jim Malouff