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Costa Rica[Country flag of Costa Rica]
[Country map of Costa Rica]

Introduction Costa Rica
Background:
Costa Rica is a Central American success story: since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development. Although still a largely agricultural country, it has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism sectors. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.
Geography Costa Rica
Location:
Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama
Geographic coordinates:
10 00 N, 84 00 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
Area:
total: 51,100 sq km
land: 50,660 sq km
water: 440 sq km
note: includes Isla del Coco
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than West Virginia
Land boundaries:
total: 639 km
border countries: Nicaragua 309 km, Panama 330 km
Coastline:
1,290 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climate:
tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands
Terrain:
coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major volcanoes
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m
Natural resources:
hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 4.41%
permanent crops: 5.88%
other: 89.71% (2001)
Irrigated land:
1,260 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season and landslides; active volcanoes
Environment - current issues:
deforestation and land use change, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching and agriculture; soil erosion; coastal marine pollution; fisheries protection; solid waste management; air pollution
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
four volcanoes, two of them active, rise near the capital of San Jose in the center of the country; one of the volcanoes, Irazu, erupted destructively in 1963-65
People Costa Rica
Population:
4,016,173 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 28.9% (male 593,540/female 566,361)
15-64 years: 65.5% (male 1,330,481/female 1,300,664)
65 years and over: 5.6% (male 104,564/female 120,563) (2005 est.)
Median age:
total: 26.03 years
male: 25.59 years
female: 26.5 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.48% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:
18.6 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:
4.33 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:
0.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 9.95 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.85 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.84 years
male: 74.26 years
female: 79.55 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.28 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.6% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
12,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
900 (2003 est.)
Nationality:
noun: Costa Rican(s)
adjective: Costa Rican
Ethnic groups:
white (including mestizo) 94%, black 3%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1%, other 1%
Religions:
Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%
Languages:
Spanish (official), English
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96%
male: 95.9%
female: 96.1% (2003 est.)
Government Costa Rica
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Costa Rica
conventional short form: Costa Rica
local long form: Republica de Costa Rica
local short form: Costa Rica
Government type:
democratic republic
Capital:
San Jose
Administrative divisions:
7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose
Independence:
15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
Constitution:
7 November 1949
Legal system:
based on Spanish civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Abel PACHECO (since 8 May 2002); First Vice President Lineth SABORIO (since 8 May 2002); Second Vice President (vacant); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Abel PACHECO (since 8 May 2002); First Vice President Lineth SABORIO (since 8 May 2002); Second Vice President (vacant); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president
elections: president and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held 3 February 2002; run-off election held 7 April 2002 (next to be held February 2006)
election results: Abel PACHECO elected president; percent of vote - Abel PACHECO (PUSC) 58%; Rolando ARAYA (PLN) 42%
Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (57 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 3 February 2002 (next to be held 3 February 2006)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PUSC 19, PLN 17, PAC 14, PML 6, PRC 1; note - seats by party as of January 2005 - PUSC 19, PLN 16, PAC 8, PML 5, PRC 1, Patriotic Union 3, Homeland First 1, Authentic Member from Heredia 1, Democratic National Alliance 1, independent 2
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (22 justices are elected for eight-year terms by the Legislative Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Authentic Member from Heredia [Jose SALAS]; Citizen Action Party or PAC [Otton SOLIS]; Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Justo OROZCO]; Democratic Force Party or PFD [Juan Carlos CHAVES Mora]; Democratic National Alliance [Emilia RODRIGUEZ]; General Union Party or PUGEN [Carlos Alberto FERNANDEZ Vega]; Homeland First [Juan Jose VARGAS]; Independent Worker Party or PIO [Jose Alberto CUBERO Carmona]; Libertarian Movement Party or PML [Otto GUEVARA Guth]; National Christian Alliance Party or ANC [Victor GONZALEZ]; National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes]; National Liberation Party or PLN [Francisco Antonio PACHECO]; National Patriotic Party or PPN [Daniel Enrique REYNOLDS Vargas]; National Rescue Party or PRN [Carlos VARGAS Solano]; Patriotic Union [Humberto ARCE]; Popular Vanguard [Trino BARRANTES Araya]; Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Lorena VASQUEZ Badilla]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Authentic Confederation of Democratic Workers or CATD (Communist Party affiliate); Chamber of Coffee Growers; Confederated Union of Workers or CUT (Communist Party affiliate); Costa Rican Confederation of Democratic Workers or CCTD (Liberation Party affiliate); Federation of Public Service Workers or FTSP; National Association for Economic Development or ANFE; National Association of Educators or ANDE; Rerum Novarum or CTRN (PLN affiliate) [Gilbert Brown]
International organization participation:
BCIE, CACM, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Tomas DUENAS
chancery: 2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 234-2945
FAX: [1] (202) 265-4795
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), and Tampa
consulate(s): Austin
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Douglas M. BARNES
embassy: Calle 120 Avenida O, Pavas, San Jose
mailing address: APO AA 34020
telephone: [506] 220-3939
FAX: [506] 519-2305
Flag description:
five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white elliptical disk on the hoist side of the red band; above the coat of arms a light blue ribbon contains the words, AMERICA CENTRAL, and just below it near the top of the coat of arms is a white ribbon with the words, REPUBLICA COSTA RICA
Economy Costa Rica
Economy - overview:
Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Poverty has been substantially reduced over the past 15 years, and a strong social safety net has been put into place. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and high education levels, and tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange. Low prices for coffee and bananas have hurt the agricultural sector. The government continues to grapple with its large deficit and massive internal debt. The reduction of inflation remains a difficult problem because of rises in the price of imports, labor market rigidities, and fiscal deficits. The country also needs to reform its tax system and its pattern of public expenditure. Costa Rica recently concluded negotiations to participate in the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement, which, if ratified by the Costa Rican Legislature, would result in economic reforms and an improved investment climate.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$37.97 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.9% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $9,600 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 8.5%
industry: 29.7%
services: 61.8% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
1.81 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 20%, industry 22%, services 58% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
6.6% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
18% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.1%
highest 10%: 36.8% (2002)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
45.9 (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
11.5% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
19.2% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $2.497 billion
expenditures: $3.094 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)
Public debt:
58% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, pineapples, bananas, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef; timber
Industries:
microprocessors, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
Industrial production growth rate:
3.1% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:
6.614 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 1.5%
hydro: 81.9%
nuclear: 0%
other: 16.6% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
5.733 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:
477 million kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:
59 million kWh (2002)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
37,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA
Oil - imports:
NA
Current account balance:
$-980.3 million (2004 est.)
Exports:
$6.184 billion (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
coffee, bananas, sugar; pineapples; textiles, electronic components, medical equipment
Exports - partners:
US 46.9%, Netherlands 5.3%, Guatemala 4.4% (2004)
Imports:
$7.842 billion (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum
Imports - partners:
US 46.1%, Japan 5.9%, Mexico 5.1%, Brazil 4.2% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$1.736 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
$5.962 billion (2004 est.)
Currency (code):
Costa Rican colon (CRC)
Currency code:
CRC
Exchange rates:
Costa Rican colones per US dollar - 437.91 (2004), 398.66 (2003), 359.82 (2002), 328.87 (2001), 308.19 (2000)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Costa Rica
Telephones - main lines in use:
1.132 million (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
528,047 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: good domestic telephone service in terms of breadth of coverage; restricted cellular telephone service
domestic: point-to-point and point-to-multi-point microwave, fiber-optic, and coaxial cable link rural areas; Internet service is available
international: country code - 506; connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); two submarine cables (1999)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 65, FM 51, shortwave 19 (2002)
Radios:
980,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
20 (plus 43 repeaters) (2002)
Televisions:
525,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
.cr
Internet hosts:
10,826 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
3 (of which only one is legal) (2000)
Internet users:
800,000 (2002)
Transportation Costa Rica
Railways:
total: 278 km
narrow gauge: 278 km 1.067-m gauge (2004)
Highways:
total: 35,303 km
paved: 4,236 km
unpaved: 31,067 km (2002)
Waterways:
730 km (seasonally navigable by small craft) (2004)
Pipelines:
refined products 242 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:
Caldera, Puerto Limon
Merchant marine:
total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 1,716 GRT/ DWT
by type: passenger/cargo 2 (2005)
Airports:
149 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 30
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 18
under 914 m: 8 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 119
914 to 1,523 m: 24
under 914 m: 95 (2004 est.)
Military Costa Rica
Military branches:
no regular military forces; Ministry of Public Security, Government, and Police
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 997,690 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 829,874 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males: 41,097 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$64.2 million (2004)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.4% (2003)
Transnational Issues Costa Rica
Disputes - international:
legal dispute over navigational rights of Rio San Juan on the border with Nicaragua remains unresolved
Illicit drugs:
transshipment country for cocaine and heroin from South America; illicit production of cannabis on small, scattered plots; domestic cocaine consumption, particularly crack cocaine, is rising

This page was last updated on 1 November, 2005


 

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