Costa Rica

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Introduction - Costa Rica:
CountryCosta Rica
BackgroundAlthough 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 countrys 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.
Location - Costa Rica:
LocationCentral America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama
Geographic coordinates10 00 N, 84 00 W
Map referencesCentral America and the Caribbean
Areatotal: 51,100 sq km
land: 50,660 sq km
water: 440 sq km
note: includes Isla del Coco
Area comparativeslightly smaller than West Virginia
Land boundariestotal: 639 km
border countries: Nicaragua 309 km, Panama 330 km
Coastline1,290 km
Maritime claimsterritorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climatetropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands
Terraincoastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major volcanoes
Elevation extremeslowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m
Natural resourceshydropower
Land usearable land: 4.4%
permanent crops: 5.87%
other: 89.73% (2005)
Irrigated land1,080 sq km (2003)
Natural hazardsoccasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season and landslides; active volcanoes
Environment current issuesdeforestation 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 agreementsparty 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 notefour 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:
Population4,133,884 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 27.8% (male 587,395/female 560,408)
15-64 years: 66.4% (male 1,388,114/female 1,357,157)
65 years and over: 5.8% (male 111,758/female 129,052) (2007 est.)
Median agetotal: 26.8 years
male: 26.3 years
female: 27.2 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate1.412% (2007 est.)
Birth rate18.02 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate4.39 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate0.48 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.048 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.023 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.866 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 9.45 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.32 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 77.21 years
male: 74.61 years
female: 79.94 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate2.21 children born/woman (2007 est.)
Hiv aids adult prevalence rate0.6% (2003 est.)
Hiv aids people living with hiv aids12,000 (2003 est.)
Hiv aids deaths900 (2003 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Costa Rican(s)
adjective: Costa Rican
Ethnic groupswhite (including mestizo) 94%, black 3%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1%, other 1%
ReligionsRoman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovahs Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%
LanguagesSpanish (official), English
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96%
male: 95.9%
female: 96.1% (2003 est.)
Government - Costa Rica:
Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Costa Rica
conventional short form: Costa Rica
local long form: Republica de Costa Rica
local short form: Costa Rica
Government typedemocratic republic
Capitalname: San Jose
geographic coordinates: 9 56 N, 84 05 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose
Independence15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National holidayIndependence Day, 15 September (1821)
Constitution7 November 1949
Legal systembased on Spanish civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branchchief of state: President Oscar ARIAS Sanchez (since 8 May 2006); First Vice President Laura CHINCHILLA (since 8 May 2006); Second Vice President Kevin CASAS Zamora (since 8 May 2006); 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 Laura CHINCHILLA (since 8 May 2006); Second Vice President Kevin CASAS Zamora (since 8 May 2006)
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%
Legislative branchunicameral 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, other 4
Judicial branchSupreme Court or Corte Suprema (22 justices are elected for eight-year terms by the Legislative Assembly)
Political parties and leadersAuthentic Member from Heredia [Jose SALAS]; Citizen Action Party or PAC [Otton SOLIS]; Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Gerardo Justo OROZCO Alvarez]; Democratic Force Party or PFD [Vladimir DE LA CRUZ]; 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]; National Patriotic Party or PPN [Daniel Enrique REYNOLDS Vargas]; National Restoration Party or PRN [Carlos AVENDANO]; Nationalist Democratic Alliance or ADN [Jose Miguel VILLALOBOS Umana]; Patriotic Union or UP [Humberto ARCE Salas]; Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Luis FILMAN]; Union for Change Party or UPC [Antonio ALVAREZ Desanti]; United Leftist Coalition or IU [Humberto VARGAS Carbonel]
Political pressure groups and leadersAuthentic 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 Exporters 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]
International organization participationBCIE, 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, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the uschief 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, Hammond (temporary location in Louisiana), Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Tampa (temporarily closed), Washington, DC
consulate(s): San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the uschief of mission: Ambassador Mark LANGDALE
embassy: Calle 120 Avenida O, Pavas, San Jose
mailing address: APO AA 34020
telephone: [506] 519-2000
FAX: [506] 519-2305
Flag descriptionfive 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 overviewCosta Ricas basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Poverty has remained at roughly 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. Foreign investors remain attracted by the countrys political stability and high education levels, and tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange. 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. The country also needs to reform its tax system and its pattern of public expenditure. The current administration has made it a priority to pass the necessary reforms to implement the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). CAFTA implementation would result in an improved investment climate.
Gdp purchasing power parity $50.89 billion (2006 est.)
Gdp official exchange rate $21.39 billion (2006 est.)
Gdp real growth rate7.9% (2006 est.)
Gdp per capita ppp $12,500 (2006 est.)
Gdp composition by sectoragriculture: 8.6%
industry: 31%
services: 60.4% (2006 est.)
Labor force1.866 million
note: this official estimate excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica legally and illegally (2006 est.)
Labor force by occupationagriculture: 20%
industry: 22%
services: 58% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate6.6% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line18% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 1.1%
highest 10%: 36.8% (2002)
Distribution of family income gini index46.5 (2000)
Inflation rate consumer prices 12.1% (2006 est.)
Investment gross fixed 19.4% of GDP (2006 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $3.134 billion
expenditures: $3.475 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Public debt53.4% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture productsbananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef; timber
Industriesmicroprocessors, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
Industrial production growth rate8.4% (2006 est.)
Electricity production8.4 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity consumption7.574 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity exports440 million kWh (2004)
Electricity imports202 million kWh (2004)
Oil production0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil consumption44,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil exportsNA bbl/day
Oil importsNA bbl/day
Oil proved reserves0 bbl
Natural gas production0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas consumption0 cu m (2004 est.)
Current account balance-$1.176 billion (2006 est.)
Exports$7.931 billion (2006 est.)
Exports commoditiesbananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; textiles, electronic components, medical equipment
Exports partnersUS 29.1%, Netherlands 13%, China 12.5%, UK 6.6% (2006)
Imports$10.88 billion (2006 est.)
Imports commoditiesraw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum
Imports partnersUS 40.9%, Venezuela 5.4%, Mexico 5.3%, Ireland 4.9%, Japan 4.9%, Brazil 4.6%, China 4% (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$2.5 billion (2006 est.)
Debt external$6.42 billion (30 June 2006 est.)
Currency code Costa Rican colon (CRC)
Exchange ratesCosta Rican colones per US dollar - 511.3 (2006), 477.79 (2005), 437.91 (2004), 398.66 (2003), 359.82 (2002)
Communications - Costa Rica:
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Telephones main lines in use1.351 million (2006)
Telephones mobile cellular1.444 million (2006)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: the parastatal monopoly provides 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); 2 submarine cables (2006)
Radio broadcast stationsAM 65, FM 51, shortwave 19 (2002)
Television broadcast stations20 (plus 43 repeaters) (2002)
Internet country
Internet hosts12,751 (2006)
Internet users1.214 million (2006)
Transportation - Costa Rica:
Airports157 (2006)
Airports with paved runwaystotal: 32
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 19
under 914 m: 9 (2006)
Airports with unpaved runwaystotal: 125
914 to 1,523 m: 24
under 914 m: 101 (2006)
Pipelinesrefined products 242 km (2006)
Railwaystotal: 278 km
narrow gauge: 278 km 1.067-m gauge
note: none of the railway network is in use (2007)
Roadwaystotal: 35,330 km
paved: 8,621 km
unpaved: 26,709 km (2004)
Waterways730 km (seasonally navigable by small craft) (2007)
Merchant marinetotal: 2 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,308 GRT/743 DWT
by type: passenger/cargo 2 (2006)
Ports and terminalsCaldera, Puerto Limon
Military - Costa Rica:
Military branchesno regular military forces; Ministry of Public Security, Government, and Police (2006)
Military service age and obligation18 years of age (2004)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 18-49: 997,690
females age 18-49: 968,290 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 18-49: 829,874
females age 18-49: 809,343 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annuallymales age 18-49: 41,097
females age 18-49: 39,243
Refugees and internally displaced personsrefugees (country of origin): 9,470 (Colombia) (2006)
Military expenditures percent of gdp0.4% (2006)
Disputes internationalin September 2005, Costa Rica took its case before the ICJ to advocate the navigation, security, and commercial rights of Costa Rican vessels using the Rio San Juan over which Nicaragua retains sovereignty
This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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