No contest here; Costa Rica has a much higher rate of crime. Armed robberies, carjacking and other violent crimes occur far more frequently in Costa Rica. In 2007 the U.S. State Department designated Costa Rica as a “high crime rate country” for tourists. While these crimes do occur in Panama, the incidence is much lower and occurs primarily in the Canal Zone, between Panama City and Colon. I’ve been living part time in Santiago (three hours west of Panama City) for over a year, and nobody I’ve talked to has ever heard of a murder, armed robbery, or even a mugging. I’ve left tools and work boots outside of my property in Panama for weeks at a time, and I’ve never had anything stolen. This would be unheard of in Costa Rica, where theft is a common, everyday occurrence.