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Republica de Costa Rica

Republic of Costa Rica

Costa Ricaflag
Anthem: Noble homeland, your beautiful flag
Capital: San Jose
Official Language: Spanish
Demonym: Costa Rican
Government: Democratic Republic
Leader: Abel Odio
Formation: 1838
Area: 51,100 km2
Population: 3,105,767(Jan 1990), growth rate 2.6% (1990)
GDP: $5.58 billion, per capita $1,796; real growth rate 3.8% (1988
Currency: Costa Rican Colón
Timezone: UTC-6

Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica (Spanish: Costa Rica or República de Costa Rica), is a republic in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the east-southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Costa Rica was the first country in the world to constitutionally abolish its army.

Geography and ClimateEdit

Total area: 51,100 km2; land area: 50,660 km2; includes Isla del Coco

Comparative area: slightly smaller than West Virginia

Land boundaries: 639 km total; Nicaragua 309 km, Panama 330 km

Coastline: 1,290 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: 200 nm;

Extended 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

Natural resources: Hydro power potential

Land use: 6% arable land; 7% permanent crops; 45% meadows and pastures; 34% forest and woodland; 8% other; includes 1% irrigated

Environment: subject to occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season; active volcanoes; deforestation; soil erosion


The first European to reach what is now Costa Rica was Christopher Columbus in 1502.[9] During Spanish Colonial times, the principal city in Central America was Guatemala City. Costa Rica's distance from this hub led to difficulty in establishing trade routes and was one of the reasons that Costa Ricans developed in relative isolation and with little oversight from the Spanish Monarchy ("The Crown"). While this isolation allowed the colony to develop free of intervention by The Crown, it also contributed to its failure to share in the prosperity of the Colonies, making Costa Rica the poorest Spanish Colony in Central America.[10] Costa Rica was described as "the poorest and most miserable Spanish colony in all Americas" by a Spanish governor in 1719.

An era of peaceful democracy in Costa Rica began in 1889 with elections considered the first truly free and honest ones in the country's history.

Costa Rica has avoided much of the violence that has plagued much of Central America. Since the late nineteenth century, only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development. In 1917-19, Federico Tinoco Granados ruled as a dictator, and, in 1948, José Figueres Ferrer led an armed uprising in the wake of a disputed presidential election. In 1949, José Figueres Ferrer abolished the army; and since then, Costa Rica has been one of the few countries to operate within the democratic system without the assistance of a military.

With more than 2,000 dead, the 44-day Costa Rica Civil War resulting from this uprising was the bloodiest event in twentieth-century Costa Rican history, but the victorious junta drafted a constitution guaranteeing free elections with universal suffrage and the abolition of the military. Figueres became a national hero, winning the first election under the new constitution in 1953.


Long-form name: Republic of Costa Rica

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)

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

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Executive branch: president, two vice presidents, Cabinet

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly (Asamblea Legislativa)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Corte Suprema)

Political parties and leaders: National Liberation Party (PLN), Carlos Manuel Castillo; Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), Rafael Angel Calderon Fournier; Marxist Popular Vanguard Party (PVP), Humberto Vargas Carbonell; New Republic Movement (MNR), Sergio Erick Ardon; Progressive Party (PP), Javier Solis; People's Party of Costa Rica (PPC), Lenin Chacon Vargas; Radical Democratic Party (PRD), Juan Jose Echeverria Brealey

Suffrage: universal and compulsory at age 18

Communists: 7,500 members and sympathizers

Other political or pressure groups: Costa Rican Confederation of Democratic Workers (CCTD; Liberation Party affiliate), Confederated Union of Workers (CUT; Communist Party affiliate), Authentic Confederation of Democratic Workers (CATD; Communist Party affiliate), Chamber of Coffee Growers, National Association for Economic Development (ANFE), Free Costa Rica Movement (MCRL; rightwing militants), National Association of Educators (ANDE)

Flag: 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


The current Costa Rican leader is Abel Odio.

Leader Method of Departure
Abel OdioIncumbent.
Oscar PacheoKilled in a hit and run car accident.


Overview: In 1988 the economy grew at a 3.8% rate, a drop from the 5.1% of the previous year. Gains in agricultural production (on the strength of good coffee and banana crops) and in construction, were partially offset by declines in the rates of growth for the industry and commerce sectors. In 1988 consumer prices rose by nearly 21% followed by a 10% rise in 1989. Unemployment is officially reported at about 6%, but much underemployment remains. External debt, on a per capita basis, is among the world's highest.

GDP: $5.58 billion, per capita $1,796; (Jan 1990)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10% (1989)

Unemployment rate: 5.5% (Jan 1990)

Budget: revenues $719 million; expenditures $808 million, including capital expenditures of $103 million (1988)

Exports: $1.3 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities--coffee, bananas, textiles, sugar; partners--US 75%, FRG, Guatemala, Netherlands, UK, Japan

Imports: $1.4 billion (c.i.f., 1988); commodities--petroleum, machinery, consumer durables, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs; partners--US 35%, Japan, Guatemala, FRG

External debt: $12.31 billion (Jan 1990)

Industrial production: growth rate 2.1% (1988)

Electricity: 909,000 kW capacity; 2,928 million kWh produced, 990 kWh per capita (1989)

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

Agriculture: accounts for 20-25% of GDP and 70% of exports; cash commodities--coffee, beef, bananas, sugar; other food crops include corn, rice, beans, potatotes; normally self-sufficient in food except for grain; depletion of forest resources resulting in lower timber output

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

Currency: Costa Rican colon (plural--colones); 1 Costa Rican colon (C) = 100 centimos

Exchange rates: Costa Rican colones (C) per US$1--84.689 (January 1990), 81.504 (1989), 75.805 (1988), 62.776 (1987), 55.986 (1986), 50.453 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Population: 3,105,767 (Jan 1990), growth rate 2.6% (1990)

Birth rate: 28 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 4 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 2 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 16 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 74 years male, 79 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 3.3 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun--Costa Rican(s); adjective--Costa Rican

Ethnic divisions: 96% white (including mestizo), 2% black, 1% Indian, 1% Chinese

Religion: 95% Roman Catholic

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

Literacy: 93%

Labor force: 868,300; industry and commerce 35.1%, government and services 33%, agriculture 27%, other 4.9% (1985 est.)

Organized labor: 15.1% of labor force


Costa Ricans often refer to themselves as tico (masculine) or tica (feminine). "Tico" comes from the popular local usage of "tico" and "tica" as diminutive suffixes (e.g., "momentico" instead of "momentito"). The phrase "Pura Vida" (literally "Pure Life") is a ubiquitous motto in Costa Rica. Some youth use mae, a contraction of "maje" (mae means "guy/dude"), to refer to each other, although this might be perceived as insulting to those of an older generation; maje was a synonym for "tonto" (stupid).

Costa Rica boasts a varied history. Costa Rica was the point where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures met. The northwest of the country, the Nicoya peninsula, was the southernmost point of Nahuatl cultural influence when the Spanish conquerors (conquistadores) came in the sixteenth century. The center and southern portions of the country had Chibcha influences.

The Atlantic coast, meanwhile, was populated with African workers during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Most afro Costa Ricans, however, derive from nineteenth-century Jamaican workers, brought in to work on the construction of railroads between the urban populations of the Central Plateau and the port of Limon on the Caribbean coast. Italian and Chinese immigrants also arrived at this time to work on railroad construction.


Branches: Civil Guard, Rural Assistance Guard; note--Constitution prohibits armed forces

Military manpower: males 15-49, 785,429; 530,986 fit for military service; 31,899 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 0.6% of GDP (1987)

Diplomatic InformationEdit

Defense Pacts Trade Treaties Member of



Colombia Cuba
Republic of China

At War With Disputed Territories No Relations
None None PRC (Not Recognised)

Recognises Republic of China(Taiwan) and Tibet.