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Costa Rica
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Costa Rica

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 expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism
sectors. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership
is widespread.

Geography Costa Rica

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:   440 sq km land: 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: 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 and landslides;
active volcanoes

Environment - current 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

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

Geography - note:  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

People Costa Rica

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

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  0.54% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  12,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  750 (1999 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 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

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

Government Costa Rica

Country name:   Republic of Costa Rica conventional short form:
Costa Rica

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 accepted compulsory ICJ

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:  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:
Abel 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 or Corte Suprema (22 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:  BCIE, CACM, ECLAC, FAO, G-77,
IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), NAM (observer),

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Jaime DAREMBLUM Rosenstein chancery: 2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC
20008 consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston,
Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Phoenix, San Antonio, San
Francisco, St. Paul, and Tampa consulate(s): Diplomatic representation
from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador John J. DANILOVICH embassy:
Calle 120
 APO AA 34020 telephone:
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 Costa Rica

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. Foreign investors remain attracted by the
country's political stability and high education levels, and tourism
continues to bring in foreign exchange. However, traditional export
sectors have not kept pace. Low coffee prices and an overabundance of
bananas have hurt the agricultural sector. The government continues to
grapple with its large deficit and massive internal debt and with the need
to modernize the state-owned electricity and telecommunications sector.

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)

Population below poverty line:  20.6% (1999 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 34.6% (2001)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  45.9 (1997)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  12.1% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  1.9 million (1999)

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

Unemployment rate:  5.2% (2000 est.)

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

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

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

Electricity - production:  6.887 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 1.15% hydro: 82.56%
other: 16.29% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  5.895 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  532 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  22 million kWh (2000)

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

Exports:  $5 billion (2001)

Exports - commodities:  coffee, bananas, sugar; pineapples; textiles,
electronic components, medical equipment

Exports - partners:  US 51.8%, EU 20%, Central America 10.6%, Puerto
Rico 2.8%, Mexico 1.7% (2000)

Imports:  $6.5 billion (2001)

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

Imports - 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.)

Currency:  Costa Rican colon (CRC)

Currency code:  CRC

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

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Costa Rica

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

Telephones - mobile cellular:  143,000 (2000)

Telephone system:   very good domestic telephone service domestic:
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 country code:  .cr

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  3 (of which only one is legal) (2000)

Internet users:  250,000 (2001)

Transportation Costa Rica

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

Highways:  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,

Merchant marine:   1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,716 GRT/NA DWT
ships by type: 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 Costa Rica

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 age 15-49: 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 Costa Rica

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;
domestic cocaine consumption is rising, particularly crack cocaine

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002




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