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Information About Costa Rica

Official Country Name

Conventional long form: Republic of Costa Rica.

Conventional short form: Costa Rica.

Location

Costa Rica is located in Central America. It is bounded on the north by Nicaragua, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, on the southeast by Panama, and on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean.

Area/Size

Total: 51,100 sq. km (19,730 sq. mi.)About the size of the states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

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 meters.

Highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 meters.

Climate

Tropical and subtropical; dry season (Dec-Apr), rainy season(May-Nov); cooler in the highlands.

Government Type

Costa Rica is a republic with political power distributed among the following governing bodies:

  • Executive Branch: The President of the Republic, elected openly every four years to only one term in office. There two Vice Presidents. A Presidential Cabinet, made up of 22 State Ministers, is active in economic, social productive and cultural areas.
  • Legislative Branch: This is a single chambered congress, with 57 popularly elected delegates, which is responsible for passing laws.
  • Judicial Branch: Made up of the Supreme Court, consisting of four tribunals, and including high courts, local courts and civil justices in various jurisdictions.

Independence: September 15, 1821.

Constitution: November 7, 1949.

It is one of the most stable countries in Latin America, with a long democratic tradition and respect for human rights.

Administrative Divisions

Costa Rica is divided into 7 Provinces:Alajuela,Cartago,Guanacaste, San Jose, Puntarenas, Heredia and Limon. To see a Costa Rica map of the Provinces & general information about each Province.

Capital

The capital and largest city is San Jose. The greater metropolitan area population is over 2 million. The greater metropolitan area as defined by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Policy includes the cities of Alajuela, Cartago, and Heredia.

Population

4,133,884 (July 2007 est.) Annual growth rate (2007 est.) 1.41% Ethnic groups: European and some mestizo 94%, African origin 3%, Chinese 1%, Amerindian 1%, other 1%.

Languages

Spanish(official), English The official language is Spanish with the second language being English, with a southwestern Caribbean Creole dialect of English spoken around the Limon area.

Literacy

Definition: age 15 and over that can read and write total population 96% male 95.9% female 96.1% (2003 est.).

Religions

Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovahs' Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%.

Suffrage

18 years of age, universal and compulsory.

Military

Costa Rica has no standing military; Costa Rica abolished it's military after World War II, investing the money that would have been spent on the military, into health care and education. Costa Rica now enjoys one of the highest literacy rates in all of Latin America and Costa Rican health care is among the highest quality in the world. Also, because Costa Rica has no armed forces, it has avoided military involvement in political affairs, unlike other countries in the region.

Suffrage

18 years of age, universal and compulsory.

Airports

There are two International Airports in Costa Rica. The Juan Santa Maria Airport (SJO) is located in the capital city of San Jose in the central part of Costa Rica. The Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) is located in the city of Liberia in the northern part of Costa Rica.

Currency

Costa Rican Colon (plural: colones).

Exchange Rates

Costa Rican colones per US dollar: 511.3 (2006), 477.79 (2005), 437.91 (2004), 398.66 (2003), 359.82 (2002), 550 (2009).

Economy

GDP (2006): $20.77 billion.

GDP PPP (2006 est.): $48.77 billion.

Agriculture (8.6% of GDP).

Industry (31% of GDP).

Commerce, tourism, and services (60.4% of GDP) Costa Rica's stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture and electronic exports. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and high education levels, and tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange.

Implementation of the recently passed US-Central American Free Trade Agreement(CAFTA) is expected to result in an improved investment climate.

Protected Areaas

The National Parks Service is responsible for the care conservation of 20 national parks, eight wildlife refuges and one area, declared a national archaecological monument. At the same time, the Forestry Service is in charge of 26 protected areas, nine forest reserves, seven wildlife sanctuaries and a national forest.

These protected areas total 1,077, 308 hectares, 21% of the national territory, which means that Costa Rica has a larger percentage of its total are set aside in parks and preserves than any other country on Earth. On the whole, access to these areas and facilities are freely available provided the visitor respects the need to protect them.

Tourism

In recent years, Costa Rica has become synonymous with the term "ecotourism". Its pristine rain forests are painstakingly protected. Between 30,000-50,000 private American citizens, including many retirees, reside in the country and more than 700,000 American citizens visit Costa Rica annually.

Agriculture Products

Bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef; timber.

History of Costa Rican Coffee

Coffee came to Costa Rica in the last decade of the eighteenth century. Its arrival on national scene was discrete, but definitive. Read More

Industries

Microprocessors, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products.


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