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Countries > Costa Rica Costa Rica Flag

Languages   3 languages are spoken in Costa Rica. We have 858 products available for 1 of those languages.

Capital: San Jose
Population: 3,344,000
Click to Listen Play the National Anthem
Costa Rica Map


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

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; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November)

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 potential

Land use:
arable land: 4%
permanent crops : 6%
other: 90% (1998 est.)

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; active volcanoes

Environment - current issues: deforestation, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching; soil erosion

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


Population:3,834,934 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 30.8% (male 603,270; female 575,766)
15-64 years: 63.9% (male 1,239,618; female 1,211,641)
65 years and over : 5.3% (male 95,182; female 109,457) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:1.61% (2002 est.)

Birth rate: 19.83 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate: 4.31 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.52 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 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 (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 10.87 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population:76.22 years
male : 73.68 years
female: 78.89 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.42 children born/woman (2002 est.)

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%, other Protestant 0.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%

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

definition : age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.5%
male: 95.5%
female: 95.5% (1999 est.)


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

National 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: 9 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 Abel PACHECO (since 8 May 2002); First Vice President Lineth SABORIO (since NA May 2002); Second Vice President Luis FISHMAN (since NA May 2002); 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 NA May 2002); Second Vice President Luis FISHMAN (since NA May 2002); 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 NA February 2006)
election results : JAbel 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

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

Political parties and leaders: Agricultural Labor Action or PALA [Carlos Alberto SOLIS Blanco]; Citizen Action Party or PAC [Otton SOLIS]; Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Justo OROZCO]; Democratic Force Party or PFD [Jose M. NUNEZ]; Libertarian Movement Party or PML [Otto GUEVARA Guth]; National Christian Alliance Party or ANC [Alejandro MADRIGAL]; 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 - until the 3 February 2002 election in which the PAC captured a significant percentage, forcing a run-off in April 2002

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: AG (observer), 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, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jaime DAREMBLUM Rosenstein
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 John J. DANILOVICH
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 - overview: Costa Rica's basically stable and progressive economy depends especially on tourism and the export of bananas, coffee, and other agricultural products. Poverty has been substantially reduced over the past 15 years, and a strong social safety net has been put in place. Recent trends, however, have been disappointing. Economic growth slipped from 4.3% in 1994 to 2.5% in 1995, and to 0.9% in 1996. Inflation rose to 22.5% in 1995 from 13.5% in 1994, then dropped back to 13.9% in 1996. Unemployment appears moderate at little more than 5% but substantial underemployment continues. Furthermore, substantial government deficits have undermined efforts to maintain the quality of social services. The government thus faces a formidable set of problems: to curb inflation, reduce the deficit, encourage domestic savings, and improve public sector efficiency while increasing the role of the private sector, all this in harmony with IMF agreements.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $31.9 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 0.3% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $8,500 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 11%
industry: 37%
services:52% (2000)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 12.1% (2001 est.)

Labor force:
total: 1.9 million (1999)
by occupation:agriculture 20%, industry 22%, services 58% (1999 est.)

Unemployment rate: 5.2% (2000 est.)

revenues : $1.91 billion
expenditures:$2.35 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: -2.1% (2001 est.)

Electricity - capacity: 1,113,900 kW (1995)

Electricity - production: 6.887 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 5.895 billion kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products: coffee, bananas, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef; timber (depletion of forest resources has resulted in declining timber output)

total value: $5 billion (2001)
commodities: coffee, bananas, textiles, sugar
partners: US 51.8%, EU 20%, Central America 10.6%, Puerto Rico 2.8%, Mexico 1.7% (2000)

total value: $6.5 billion (2001)
commodities : raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum
partners: US 53.2%, EU 10.3%, Mexico 6.2%, Venezuela 5.3%, Central America 4.9% (2000)

Debt - external: $4.6 billion (2001 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

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

Exchange rates:Costa Rican colones per US dollar - 343.08 (January 2002), 328.87 (2001), 308.19 (2000), 285.68 (1999), 257.23 (1998), 232.60 (1997)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: 450,000 (1998)
note: 584,000 installed in 1997, but only about 450,000 were in use in 1998

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 station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

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)


total : 950 km
narrow gauge: 950 km 1.067-m gauge (260 km electrified)(2000 est.)

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

Waterways: 730 km (seasonally navigable)

Pipelines: petroleum products 176 km

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

Merchant marine:
total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,716 GRT/NA DWT
ships by type: passenger 1 (2002 est.)

Airports:152 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 29
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m : 1
914 to 1,523 m:19
under 914 m: 7 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 123
914 to 1,523 m: 28
under 914 m: 95 (2001)


Military branches: no regular indigenous military forces; Air Section, Ministry of Public Forces (Fuerza Publica)

Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49:1,058,283 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males:707,927 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males : 39,411 (2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $69 million (FY99)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.6% (FY99)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international:legal dispute over navigational rights of Rio San Juan on border with Nicaragua

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

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