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Costa Rica



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Introduction

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 achieved a relatively high standard of living. Land ownership is widespread. Tourism is a rapidly expanding industry.

Geography

Location: Middle 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
  exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
  territorial sea: 12 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

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

Natural resources: hydropower

Land use
  arable land: 6%
  permanent crops: 5%
  permanent pastures: 46%
  forests and woodland: 31%
  other: 12% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 1,200 sq km (1993 est.)

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

Environment - current issues: deforestation, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching; soil erosion; water pollution (rivers); fisheries protection; solid waste management

Environment - international agreements
  party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling
  signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Marine Life Conservation

People

Population: 3,710,558 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure
  0-14 years: 32% (male 609,051; female 581,302)
  15-64 years: 63% (male 1,177,262; female 1,150,673)
  65 years and over: 5% (male 89,541; female 102,729) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.69% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 20.69 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 4.31 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.54 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 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 (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 11.49 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 75.82 years
  male: 73.3 years
  female: 78.47 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.52 children born/woman (2000 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 85%, Evangelical Protestant, approximately 14%, other less than 1%

Languages: Spanish (official), English spoken around Puerto Limon

Literacy
  definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  total population: 94.8%
  male: 94.7%
  female: 95% (1995 est.)

Government

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

Data code: CS

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 not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch
  chief of state: President Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ (since 8 May 1998); First Vice President Astrid FISCHEL Volio (since 8 May 1998), Second Vice President Elizabeth ODIO Benito (since 8 May 1998); note - president is both the chief of state and head of government
  head of government: President Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ (since 8 May 1998); First Vice President Astrid FISCHEL Volio (since 8 May 1998), Second Vice President Elizabeth ODIO Benito (since 8 May 1998); note - 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 1 February 1998 (next to be held 2 February 2002)
  election results: Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ elected president; percent of vote - Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ (PUSC) 46.6%, Jose Miguel CORRALES (PLN) 44.6%

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 1 February 1998 (next to be held 2 February 2002)
  election results: percent of vote by party - PUSC 41%, PLN 35%, minority parties 24%; seats by party - PUSC 27, PLN 23, minority parties 7

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

Political parties and leaders: Agriculture Labor Action or PALA [Carlos Alberto SOLIS Blanco]; Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Carlos AVENDANO Calvo]; Democratic Force Party or PFD [Jose NUNEZ]; Libertarian Movement Party or PML [Otto GUEVARA]; National Christian Alliance Party or ANC [Alejandro MADRIGAL Benavides]; National Independent Party or PNI [Jorge GONZALEZ Marten]; National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes]; National Liberation Party or PLN [Sonia PICADO]; Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Luis Manuel CHACON] (Note: mainly a two-party system - PUSC and PLN; numerous small parties share less than 25% of population's support)

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; Free Costa Rica Movement or MCRL (rightwing militants); National Association for Economic Development or ANFE; National Association of Educators or ANDE

International organization participation: BCIE, CACM, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Jaime DAREMBLUM
  chancery: 2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
  telephone: [1] (202) 234-2945
  FAX: [1] (202) 265-4795
  consulate(s) general: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, Durham, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), and Tampa
  consulate(s): Austin

Diplomatic representation from the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas J. DODD
  embassy: Pavas Road, San Jose
  mailing address: APO AA 34020
  telephone: [506] 220-3939
  FAX: [506] 220-2305

Flag description: five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white disk on the hoist side of the red band

Economy

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. Economic growth has rebounded from -0.9% in 1996 to 4% in 1997, 6% in 1998, and 7% in 1999. Inflation rose to 22.5% in 1995, dropped to 11.1% in 1997, 12% in 1998, and 11% in 1999. Large government deficits - fueled by interest payments on the massive internal debt - have undermined efforts to maintain the quality of social services. Curbing inflation, reducing the deficit, and improving public sector efficiency remain key challenges to the government. Political resistance to privatization has stalled liberalization efforts.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $26 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 7% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $7,100 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 14%
  industry: 22%
  services: 64% (1998)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share
  lowest 10%: 1.3%
  highest 10%: 34.7% (1996)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10.8% (1999 est.)

Labor force: 1.377 million (1998)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 20%, industry 22%, services 58% (1999 est.)

Unemployment rate: 5.6% (1998 est.); 7.5% underemployment

Budget
  revenues: $1.93 billion
  expenditures: $2.27 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: 24.5% (1999)

Electricity - production: 5.742 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 9.28%
  hydro: 80.62%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 10.1% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 5.267 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 77 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 4 million kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: coffee, bananas, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef; timber

Exports: $6.4 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.)

Exports - commodities: coffee, bananas, sugar; textiles, electronic components, electricity

Exports - partners: US 49%, EU 22%, Central America 10% (1999)

Imports: $6.5 billion (c.i.f., 1999 est.)

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

Imports - partners: US 41%, Japan 8.1%, Mexico 7.3%, Venezuela 4% (1998)

Debt - external: $3.9 billion (1998 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: $107.1 million (1995)

Currency: 1 Costa Rican colon (C) = 100 centimos

Exchange rates: Costa Rican colones (C) per US$1 - 299.63 (February 2000), 285.68 (1999), 257.23 (1998), 232.60 (1997), 207.69 (1996), 179.73 (1995)

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 451,000 (525,700 main lines installed) (yearend 1996)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 46,500 (December 1996)

Telephone system: very good domestic 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: connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); two submarine cables (1999)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 50, FM 43, shortwave 19 (1998)

Radios: 980,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 6 (plus 11 repeaters) (1997)

Televisions: 525,000 (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (1999)

Transportation

Railways
  total: 950 km
  narrow gauge: 950 km 1.067-m gauge (260 km electrified)

Highways
  total: 37,273 km
  paved: 7,827 km
  unpaved: 29,446 km (1998 est.)

Waterways: about 730 km, seasonally navigable

Pipelines: petroleum products 176 km

Ports and harbors: Caldera, Golfito, Moin, Puerto Limon, Puerto Quepos, Puntarenas

Merchant marine: none (1999 est.)

Airports: 155 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 28
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
  914 to 1,523 m: 18
  under 914 m: 7 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 127
  914 to 1,523 m: 29
  under 914 m: 98 (1999 est.)

Military

Military branches: Coast Guard, Air Section, Ministry of Public Security Force (Fuerza Publica);

Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower - availability
  males age 15-49: 1,010,087 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service
  males age 15-49: 676,691 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually
  males: 38,043 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $55 million (FY95)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2% (FY95)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

Illicit drugs: transshipment country for cocaine and heroin from South America; illicit production of cannabis on small, scattered plots; domestic cocaine consumption has risen

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Site Version 1.75 - Last updated December 20, 2006

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