Costa Rica Population: 4,872,543


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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. In 1949, Costa Rica dissolved its armed forces. 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.

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
Location: Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama
Geographic coordinates: 10 00 N, 84 00 W
Area: total: 51,100 sq km
land: 51,060 sq km
water: 40 sq km

note: includes Isla del Coco

Size comparison: slightly smaller than West Virginia
Land Boundaries: total: 661 km border countries (2): Nicaragua 313 km, Panama 348 km
Coastline: 1,290 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 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 including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major active volcanoes
Elevation extremes:
Natural resources: hydropower
Land use: agricultural land: 37.1% arable land 4.9%; permanent crops 6.7%; permanent pasture 25.5% forest: 51.5%
other: 11.4% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land: 1,015 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards: occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season and landslides; active volcanoes volcanism: Arenal (elev. 1,670 m), which erupted in 2010, is the most active volcano in Costa Rica; a 1968 eruption destroyed the town of Tabacon; Irazu (elev. 3,432 m), situated just east of San Jose, has the potential to spew ash over the capital city as it did between 1963 and 1965; other historically active volcanoes include Miravalles, Poas, Rincon de la Vieja, and Turrialba
Current Environment 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
International Environment 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
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Nationality: noun: Costa Rican(s)
adjective: Costa Rican
Ethnic groups: white or mestizo 83.6%, mulato 6.7%, indigenous 2.4%, black of African descent 1.1%, other 1.1%, none 2.9%, unspecified 2.2% (2011 est.)
Languages: Spanish (official), English
Religions: Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah's Witness 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%
Population: 4,872,543 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22.82% (male 568,738/female 543,312)
15-24 years: 16.75% (male 416,046/female 399,931)
25-54 years: 43.99% (male 1,078,000/female 1,065,327)
55-64 years: 8.9% (male 211,670/female 222,183)
65 years and over: 7.54% (male 169,646/female 197,690) (2016 est.)
Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 45.4%
youth dependency ratio: 32.4%
elderly dependency ratio: 12.9%
potential support ratio: 7.7% (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 30.9 years
male: 30.4 years
female: 31.3 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.19% (2016 est.)
Birth rate: 15.7 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate: 4.6 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 76.8% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 2.74% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major urban areas - population: SAN JOSE (capital) 1.17 million (2015)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Maternal mortality rate: 25 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 8.3 deaths/1,000 live births male: 9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.6 years male: 75.9 years
female: 81.4 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.9 children born/woman (2016 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate: 76.2% (2011)
Health expenditures: 9.3% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density: 1.11 physicians/1,000 population (2013)
Hospital bed density: 1.2 beds/1,000 population (2012)
Drinking water source: improved:
urban: 99.6% of population
rural: 91.9% of population
total: 97.8% of population

urban: 0.4% of population
rural: 8.1% of population
total: 2.2% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility access: improved:
urban: 95.2% of population
rural: 92.3% of population
total: 94.5% of population

urban: 4.8% of population
rural: 7.7% of population
total: 5.5% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.33% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 10,000 (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 200 (2015 est.)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 24% (2014)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 1.1% (2009)
Education expenditures: 7.6% of GDP (2015)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.8%
male: 97.7%
female: 97.8% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 15 years male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2014)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24: total: 25% male: 21.3%
female: 31.4% (2014 est.)
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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
etymology: the name means "rich coast" in Spanish and was first applied in the early colonial period of the 16th century
Government type: presidential republic
Capital: name: San Jose
geographic coordinates: 9 56 N, 84 05 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
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: previous 1825; latest effective 8 November 1949; amended many times, last in 2015 (2016)
Legal system: civil law system based on Spanish civil code; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: President Luis Guillermo SOLIS Rivera (since 8 May 2014); First Vice President Helio FALLAS Venega (since 8 May 2014); Second Vice President Ana Helena CHACON Echeverria (since 8 May 2014); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Luis Guillermo SOLIS Rivera (since 8 May 2014); First Vice President Helio FALLAS Venegas (since 8 May 2014); Second Vice President Ana Helena CHACON Echeverria (since 8 May 2014)

cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president elections/appointments: president and vice presidents directly elected on the same ballot by modified majority popular vote (40% threshold) for a 4-year term (eligible for non-consecutive terms); election last held on 2 February 2014 with a runoff on 6 April 2014 (next to be held in February 2018)

election results: Luis Guillermo SOLIS Rivera elected president; percent of vote - Luis Guillermo SOLIS Rivera (PAC) 77.8%; Johnny ARAYA (PLN) 22.2%
Legislative branch: description: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (57 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies - corresponding to the country's 7 provinces - by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 2 February 2014 (next to be held in February 2018)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PLN 18, PAC 13, FA 9, PUSC 8, PML 4, other 5
Judicial branch: highest court(s): Supreme Court of Justice (consists of 22 judges organized into 3 cassation chambers each with 5 judges, and the Constitutional Chamber with 7 judges) judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court of Justice judges elected by the National Assembly for 8-year terms with renewal decided by the National Assembly

subordinate courts: appellate courts; trial courts; first instance and justice of the peace courts; Superior Electoral Tribunal
Political parties and leaders: Accessibility Without Exclusion or PASE [Oscar Andres LOPEZ Arias] Broad Front (Frente Amplio) or PFA [Ana Patricia MORA] Citizen Action Party or PAC [Olivier PEREZ Gonzalez] Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Gerardo Justo OROZCO Alvarez] Libertarian Movement Party or ML [Victor Danilo CUBERO Corrales] National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes] National Liberation Party or PLN [Bernal JIMENEZ] National Restoration Party or PRN [Carlos AVENDANO] Patriotic Alliance [Jorge ARAYA Westover] Popular Vanguard [Humberto VARGAS] Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Gerardo VARGAS]
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) Confederation of Workers Rerum Novarum or CTRN (National Libertion Party affiliate) Costa Rican Confederation of Democratic Workers or CCTD (National Libertion Party affiliate) Costa Rican Exporter's Chamber or CADEXCO Costa Rican Solidarity Movement Costa Rican Union of Private Sector Enterprises or UCCAEP 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
International organization participation: BCIE, CACM, CD, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS, OIF (observer), OPANAL, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
National symbol(s): yiguirro (clay-colored robin); national colors: blue, white, red
National anthem: name: "Himno Nacional de Costa Rica" (National Anthem of Costa Rica)
lyrics/music: Jose Maria ZELEDON Brenes/Manuel Maria GUTIERREZ

note: adopted 1949; the anthem's music was originally written for an 1853 welcome ceremony for diplomatic missions from the US and UK; the lyrics were added in 1903
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Roman MACAYA Hayes (since 18 September 2014)
chancery: 2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 480-2200
FAX: [1] (202) 265-4795
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Tampa (FL), Washington DC consulate(s): San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Stafford Fitzgerald HANEY (since 30 June 2015)
embassy: Calle 98 Via 104, Pavas, San Jose
mailing address: APO AA 34020
telephone: [506] 2519-2000
FAX: [506] 2519-2305
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Prior to the global economic crisis, Costa Rica enjoyed stable economic growth. The economy contracted in 2009 but resumed growth at about 4% per year in 2010-15. While traditional agricultural exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are still the backbone of commodity export trade, a variety of industrial and specialized agricultural products have broadened export trade in recent years. High value-added goods and services, including medical devices, have further bolstered exports. 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 relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the free-trade zones; Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. The US-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force on 1 January 2009 after significant delays within the Costa Rican legislature. CAFTA-DR has increased foreign direct investment in key sectors of the economy, including the insurance and telecommunications sectors. However, poor infrastructure, high energy costs, bureaucracy, weak investor protection, and legal uncertainty due to the difficulty of enforcing contracts and overlapping and at times conflicting responsibilities between agencies, remain impediments to greater competitiveness. Costa Rica’s economy also faces challenges due to a rising fiscal deficit, rising public debt, and relatively low levels of domestic revenue. Poverty has remained around 20-25% 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. Unlike the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is not highly dependent on remittances, which in 2014 represented 1% of GDP. Immigration from Nicaragua has increasingly become a concern for the government. The estimated 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans in Costa Rica, legally and illegally, are an important source of mostly unskilled labor, but also place heavy demands on the social welfare system.
GDP (purchasing power parity): GDP (purchasing power parity): $79.26 billion (2016 est.) $76.02 billion (2015 est.) $73.33 billion (2014 est.)

note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): GDP (official exchange rate): $57.69 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4.3% (2016 est.) 3.7% (2015 est.) 3% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): GDP - per capita (PPP): $16,100 (2016 est.) $15,700 (2015 est.) $15,300 (2014 est.)

note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving: 14.3% of GDP (2016 est.) 15.1% of GDP (2015 est.) 14.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use: household consumption: 62.3%
government consumption: 16.9%
investment in fixed capital: 22.2%
investment in inventories: 0.5%
exports of goods and services: 29.6%
imports of goods and services: -31.5% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of origin: household consumption: 62.3%
government consumption: 16.9%
investment in fixed capital: 22.2%
investment in inventories: 0.5%
exports of goods and services: 29.6%
imports of goods and services: -31.5% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - products: bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy; timber
Industries: medical equipment, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
Industrial production growth rate: 4% (2016 est.)
Labor force: 2.295 million note: official estimate; excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 14%
industry: 22%
services: 64% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate: 9.3% (2016 est.) 9.4% (2015 est.)
Population below poverty line: 24.8% (2011 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.2%
highest 10%: 39.5% (2009 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 50.3 (2009) 45.9 (1997)
Budget: revenues: $8.115 billion
expenditures: $11.31 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues: 14.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt: 62.3% of GDP (2016 est.) 60.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices): Inflation rate (consumer prices): 0.3% (2016 est.) 0.8% (2015 est.)
Current account balance: -$2.57 billion (2016 est.) -$2.093 billion (2015 est.)
Exports: $9.824 billion (2016 est.) $9.503 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commodities: bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; beef; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment
Exports - partners: US 33.6%, China 6.2%, Mexico 4.6%, Nicaragua 4.3%, Netherlands 4.2%, Guatemala 4% (2015)
Imports: $14.76 billion (2016 est.) $14.38 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commodities: raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials
Imports - partners: US 45.3%, China 9.8%, Mexico 7.1% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $7.96 billion (31 December 2016 est.) $7.834 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external: $24.91 billion (31 December 2016 est.) $23.18 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $31.86 billion (31 December 2016 est.) $28.75 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $3.354 billion (31 December 2016 est.) $3.154 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $2.015 billion (31 December 2012 est.) $1.443 billion (31 December 2011 est.) $1.445 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Exchange rates: Costa Rican colones (CRC) per US dollar - 543.4 (2016 est.) 534.57 (2015 est.) 534.57 (2014 est.) 538.32 (2013 est.) 502.9 (2012 est.)
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Electricity - production: 10 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 9.2 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - exports: 600 million kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - imports: 800 million kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity: 2.9 million kW (2014 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels: 30.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants: 55.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources: 13.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Crude oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - exports: 1,300 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Crude oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Crude oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)
Refined petroleum products - production: 0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption: 53,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports: 0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports: 51,300 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy: 7.2 million Mt (2013 est.)
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Cellular Phones in use: total: 7.536 million subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 157 (July 2015 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: good domestic telephone service in terms of breadth of coverage

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 points for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1), MAYA-1, and the Pan American Crossing submarine cables that provide links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; connected to Central Am (2015)
Broadcast media: multiple privately owned TV stations and 1 publicly owned TV station; cable network services are widely available; more than 100 privately owned radio stations and a public radio network (2007)
Internet country code: .cr
Internet users: total: 2.877 million percent of population: 59.8% (July 2015 est.)
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Airports: 161 (2013)
Airports (paved runways): total 47

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 27
under 914 m: 16 (2013)
Airports (unpaved runways): total 114

914 to 1,523 m: 18
under 914 m: 96 (2013)
Pipelines: refined products 662 km (2013)
Railways: total 278 km

narrow gauge: 278 km 1.067-m gauge

note: the entire rail network fell into disrepair and out of use at the end of the 20th century; since 2005, certain sections of rail have been rehabilitated (2014)
Roadways: total 39,018 km
paved: 10,133 km
unpaved: 28,885 km (2010)
Waterways: 730 km (seasonally navigable by small craft) (2011)
Merchant marine: total 1

by type: passenger/cargo 1 (2010)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean) - Puerto Limon; Pacific Ocean - Caldera
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Military branches: no regular military forces; Ministry of Public Security, Government, and Police (2011)
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 Transnational Issues
Disputes - International: Costa Rica and Nicaragua regularly file border dispute cases over the delimitations of the San Juan River and the northern tip of Calero Island to the International Court of Justice (ICJ); in 2009, the ICJ ruled that Costa Rican vessels carrying out police activities could not use the river, but official Costa Rican vessels providing essential services to riverside inhabitants and Costa Rican tourists could travel freely on the river; in 2011, the ICJ provisionally ruled that both countries must remove personnel from the disputed area; in 2013, the ICJ rejected Nicaragua's 2012 suit to halt Costa Rica's construction of a highway paralleling the river on the grounds of irreparable environmental damage; in 2013, the ICJ, regarding the disputed territory, ordered that Nicaragua should refrain from dredging or canal construction and refill and repair damage caused by trenches connecting the river to the Caribbean and upheld its 2010 ruling that Nicaragua must remove all personnel; in early 2014, Costa Rica brought Nicaragua to the ICJ over offshore oil concessions in the disputed region
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
stateless persons: 1,806 (2015)
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; seizures of smuggled cash in Costa Rica and at the main border crossing to enter Costa Rica from Nicaragua have risen in recent years (2008)
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