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Introduction
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational
Issues
  Introduction Back To Top

Background:
Although explored by the Spanish early in the 16th century, initial attempts at colonizing Costa Rica proved unsuccessful due to a combination of factors, including: disease from mosquito-infested swamps, brutal heat, resistance by natives, and pirate raids. It was not until 1563 that a permanent settlement of Cartago was established in the cooler, fertile central highlands. The area remained a colony for some two and a half centuries. In 1821, Costa Rica became one of several Central American provinces that jointly declared their independence from Spain. Two years later it joined the United Provinces of Central America, but this federation disintegrated in 1838, at which time Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence. Since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred the country's democratic development. Although it still maintains a large agricultural sector, Costa Rica has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism industries. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 2.68 cu km/yr (29%/17%/53%)
per capita: 619 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
112.4 cu km (2000)

Land boundaries:
total: 639 km
border countries: Nicaragua 309 km, Panama 330 km

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

Climate:
tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

Geographic coordinates:
10 00 N, 84 00 W

Natural resources:
hydropower

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m

Terrain:
coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major volcanoes

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

Area:
total: 51,100 sq km
land: 50,660 sq km
water: 440 sq km
note: includes Isla del Coco

Location:
Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama

Coastline:
1,290 km

Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than West Virginia

Irrigated land:
1,080 sq km (2003)

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

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season and landslides; active volcanoes

Land use:
arable land: 4.4%
permanent crops: 5.87%
other: 89.73% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
2.17 children born/woman (2008 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: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.6% (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
12,000 (2003 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.4 years
male: 74.79 years
female: 80.14 years (2008 est.)

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever (2008)

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.9%
male: 94.7%
female: 95.1% (2000 census)

Net migration rate:
0.48 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
white (including mestizo) 94%, black 3%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1%, other 1%

Median age:
total: 27.1 years
male: 26.7 years
female: 27.6 years (2008 est.)

Population:
4,195,914 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
4.9% of GDP (2004)

Population growth rate:
1.388% (2008 est.)

Languages:
Spanish (official), English

Death rate:
4.31 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 9.01 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.92 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
900 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2005)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 27.2% (male 584,782/female 557,952)
15-64 years: 66.8% (male 1,416,456/female 1,384,692)
65 years and over: 6% (male 116,461/female 135,571) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
17.71 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Religions:
Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%

Nationality:
noun: Costa Rican(s)
adjective: Costa Rican

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Peter CIANCHETTE
embassy: Calle 120 Avenida O, Pavas, San Jose
mailing address: APO AA 34020
telephone: [506] 519-2000
FAX: [506] 519-2305

National holiday:
Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Government type:
democratic republic

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); Costa Rican Exporter's Chamber or CADEXCO; Costa Rican Solidarity Movement; Costa Rican Union of Private Sector Enterprises or UCCAEP [Rafael CARRILLO]; Federation of Public Service Workers or FTSP; National Association for Economic Development or ANFE; National Association of Educators or ANDE; National Association of Public and Private Employees or ANEP [Albino VARGAS]; Rerum Novarum or CTRN (PLN affiliate) [Gilbert BROWN]

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Peter CIANCHETTE
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 Juan (Puerto Rico), Tampa (temporarily closed), Washington, DC
consulate(s): San Francisco

International organization participation:
BCIE, CACM, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

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 5 February 2006 (next to be held in February 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PLN 25, PAC 17, PML 6, PUSC 5, PASE 1, PFA 1, PRN 1, PUN 1; note - as of 1 January 2009: seats by party - PLN 25, PAC 16, PML 5, PUSC 5, PASE 1, PFA 1, PRN 1, independent 3

Legal system:
based on Spanish civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

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

Independence:
15 September 1821 (from Spain)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Republic of Costa Rica
conventional short form: Costa Rica
local long form: Republica de Costa Rica
local short form: Costa Rica

Political parties and leaders:
Authentic Member from Heredia [Jose SALAS]; Citizen Action Party or PAC [Epsy CAMPBELL Barr]; Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Gerardo Justo OROZCO Alvarez]; Democratic Force Party or PFD [Marco NUNEZ Gonzalez]; General Union Party or PUGEN [Carlos Alberto FERNANDEZ Vega]; Homeland First or PP [Juan Jose VARGAS Fallas]; Independent Worker Party or PIO [Jose Alberto CUBERO Carmona]; Libertarian Movement Party or PML [Otto GUEVARA Guth]; National Christian Alliance Party or ANC [Juan Carlos CHAVEZ Mora]; National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes]; National Liberation Party or PLN [Francisco Antonio PACHECO Fernandez]; National Patriotic Party or PPN [Daniel Enrique REYNOLDS Vargas]; National Restoration Party or PRN [Fabio Enrique DELGADO Hernandez]; National Union Party or PUN [Arturo ACOSTA Mora]; Nationalist Democratic Alliance or ADN [Jose Miguel VILLALOBOS Umana]; Patriotic Union or UP [Jose Miguel CORRALES Bolanos]; Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Luis FISHMAN Zonzinski]; Union for Change Party or UPC [Antonio ALVAREZ Desanti]; United Leftist Coalition or IU [Humberto VARGAS Carbonel]

Capital:
name: San Jose
geographic coordinates: 9 56 N, 84 05 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Constitution:
7 November 1949

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Oscar ARIAS Sanchez (since 8 May 2006); First Vice President (vacant); Second Vice President (vacant); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Oscar ARIAS Sanchez (since 8 May 2006); First Vice President (vacant); Second Vice President (vacant)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president
elections: president and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single four-year term; election last held 5 February 2006 (next to be held in February 2010)
election results: Oscar ARIAS Sanchez elected president; percent of vote - Oscar ARIAS Sanchez (PLN) 40.9%; Otton SOLIS (PAC) 39.8%, Otto GUEVARA Guth (PML) 8%, Ricardo TOLEDO (PUSC) 3%

Administrative divisions:
7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (22 justices are elected for renewable eight-year terms by the Legislative Assembly)

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
US 25.7%, China 14.1%, Netherlands 10.9%, UK 6.3%, Mexico 5% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
7.779 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
17% (31 December 2007)

Electricity - imports:
203.2 million kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$3.454 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$7.401 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
5.6% (2008 est.)

Oil - exports:
2,115 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$11,900 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
23% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$12.91 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$49.73 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$30.38 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
49.8 (2003)

Exchange rates:
Costa Rican colones (CRC) per US dollar - 529.62 (2008 est.), 519.53 (2007), 511.3 (2006), 477.79 (2005), 437.91 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
3.4% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$4.504 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
1.96 million
note: this official estimate excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
US 41%, Mexico 6.1%, Venezuela 5.7%, Japan 5.4%, China 5.1%, Brazil 4.3% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
13.4% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 7.6%
industry: 29.1%
services: 63.3% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
43,110 bbl/day (2005)

Exports:
$9.675 billion (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
Costa Rican colon (CRC)

Economy - overview:
Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Exports have become more diversified in the past 10 years due to the growth of the high-tech manufacturing sector, which is dominated by the microprocessor industry. Tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange, as Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity makes it a key destination for ecotourism. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and high education levels, as well as the fiscal incentives offered in the free-trade zones. Costa Rica has attracted the second largest amount of foreign direct investment in Latin America. Poverty has remained around 20% for nearly 20 years, and the strong social safety net that had been put into place by the government has eroded due to increased financial constraints on government expenditures. Immigration from Nicaragua has increasingly become a concern for the government. The estimated 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans estimated to be in Costa Rica legally and illegally are an important source of - mostly unskilled - labor, but also place heavy demands on the social welfare system. The government continues to grapple with its large internal and external deficits and sizable internal debt. Reducing inflation remains a difficult problem because of rising import prices, labor market rigidities, and fiscal deficits, though lower oil prices will decrease upward pressures. The Central Bank is moving towards a more flexible exchange rate system to focus on inflation targeting by 2010. The US-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) will enter into force in January 2009, after significant delays within the Costa Rican legislature. Nevertheless, economic growth will slow in 2009 as the global slowdown reduces export demand and invesment inflows.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials

Industries:
microprocessors, food processing, medical equipment, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products

Electricity - exports:
39.55 million kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
16% (2006 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
12.8% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$2.87 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
8.521 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Imports:
$15.05 billion (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
NA

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 14%
industry: 22%
services: 64% (2006 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$3.573 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
45,600 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$574 million (2008 est.)

Public debt:
42.5% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$11.03 billion (2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$2.035 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:
CRC

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 37.4% (2003)

Exports - commodities:
bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment

Economic aid - recipient:
$29.51 million (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 1.5%
hydro: 81.9%
nuclear: 0%
other: 16.6% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $4.604 billion
expenditures: $4.552 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2004)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
1.5 million (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
1.437 million (2007)

Televisions:
525,000 (1997)

Internet country code:
.cr

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 65, FM 51, shortwave 19 (2002)

Radios:
980,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
1.503 million (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
20 (plus 43 repeaters) (2002)

Telephone system:
general assessment: good domestic telephone service in terms of breadth of coverage; restricted cellular telephone service; state-run monopoly provider is struggling with the demand for new lines, resulting in long waiting times
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; landing point for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) fiber-optic telecommunications submarine cable and the MAYA-1 submarine cable that provide links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2007)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
3 (of which only one is legal) (2000)

Internet hosts:
16,440 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Waterways:
730 km (seasonally navigable by small craft) (2008)

Pipelines:
refined products 242 km (2007)

Railways:
total: 278 km
narrow gauge: 278 km 1.067-m gauge
note: none of the railway network is in use (2007)

Ports and terminals:
Caldera, Puerto Limon

Merchant marine:
total: 1
by type: passenger/cargo 1 (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 36
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 21
under 914 m: 11 (2007)

Roadways:
total: 35,330 km
paved: 8,621 km
unpaved: 26,709 km (2004)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 115
914 to 1,523 m: 19
under 914 m: 96 (2007)

Airports:
151 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,134,205
females age 16-49: 1,095,763 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 958,013
females age 16-49: 925,727 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
no regular military forces; Ministry of Public Security, Government, and Police (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 40,767
female: 38,899 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
0.4% of GDP (2006)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
the ICJ has given Costa Rica until January 2008 to reply and Nicaragua until July 2008 to rejoin before rendering its decision on the navigation, security, and commercial rights of Costa Rican vessels on the Río San Juan over which Nicaragua retains sovereignty

Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 9,699-11,500 (Colombia) (2007)

Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Costa Rica is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; women and girls from neighboring states, Russia, Uzbekistan, and the Philippines are trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation; Costa Rica also serves as a transit point for victims trafficked to North America and Europe; the government identifies child sex tourism as a serious problem; men, women, and children are also trafficked within the country for forced labor in fishing and construction, and as domestic servants
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Costa Rica is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, particularly in terms of its failure to improve its inadequate assistance to victims; while Costa Rican officials recognize human trafficking as a serious problem, the lack of a stronger response by the government is of concern (2008)

Illicit drugs:
transshipment country for cocaine and heroin from South America; illicit production of cannabis in remote areas; domestic cocaine consumption, particularly crack cocaine, is rising; significant consumption of amphetamines

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