Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America

Costa Rica Country Profile *

Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America

Costa Rica Country Profile *

Article excerpt

United States Department of State

Official Name: Republic of Costa Rica



Area: 51,100 sq. km (19,730 sq. mi.) about the size of the states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

Cities: Capital-San Jose (greater metropolitan area pop. 2.1 million, the greater metropolitan area as defined by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Policy includes the cities of Alajuela, Cartago, and Heredia). Other major cities outside the San Jose capital area-Puntarenas, Limon, and Liberia.

Terrain: A rugged, central range separates the eastern and western coastal plains.

Climate: Mild in the central highlands, tropical and subtropical in coastal areas.


Nationality: Noun and adjective-Costa Rican(s).

Population (2011): 4,576,562.

Annual population growth rate (2011 est.): 1.308%.

Ethnic groups: European and some mestizo 94%, African origin 3%, Chinese 1%, Amerindian 1%, other 1%.

Religion: Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical Protestant 16%, other 6%, none 8%.

Languages: Spanish, with a southwestern Caribbean Creole dialect of English spoken around the Limon area.

Education: Years compulsory-9. Attendance-99% grades 1-6; 71% grades 7-9. Literacy-96%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2011 est.)-9.45/1,000. Life expectancy (2011 est.)-men 75.1 years, women 80.46 years.

Work force (2010 est.): 2.05 million; this official estimate excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica legally and illegally.


Type: Democratic republic.

Independence: September 15, 1821.

Constitution: November 7, 1949.

Branches: Executive-president (head of government and chief of state) elected for one 4-year term, two vice presidents, Cabinet (22 ministers, two of whom are also vice presidents). Legislative-57-deputy unicameral Legislative Assembly elected at 4-year intervals. Judicial-Supreme Court of Justice (22 magistrates elected by Legislative Assembly for renewable 8-year terms). The offices of the Ombudsman, Comptroller General, and Procurator General assert autonomous oversight of the government.

Subdivisions: Seven provinces, divided into 81 cantons, subdivided into 421 districts.

Political parties: National Liberation Party (PLN), Citizen's Action Party (PAC), Libertarian Movement Party (PML), Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), and other smaller parties.

Suffrage: Universal and compulsory at age 18.


GDP (2011 est., official exchange rate): $40.02 billion.

GDP (2011 est., purchasing power parity): $54.52 billion.

Real growth rate (2011 est.): 4.0%.

Per capita income (2011 est., PPP): $11,562.

Inflation rate (2011 est.): 5.3%.

Unemployment (2011 est.): 6.5%.

Currency: Costa Rica Colon (CRC).

Natural resources: Hydroelectric power, forest products, fisheries products.

Agriculture (6.9% of GDP, 2010 est.): Products-bananas, pineapples, coffee, beef, sugar, rice, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, ornamental plants, corn, beans, potatoes, timber.

Industry (26.1% of GDP, 2010 est.): Types-electronic components, medical equipment, textiles and apparel, tires, food processing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products.

Commerce, tourism, and services (67% of GDP, 2010 est.): Hotels, restaurants, tourist services, banks, and insurance.

Trade (2010 est.): Exports-$9.385 billion: integrated circuits, medical equipment, bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, textiles, electronic components. Major markets (2010)-US 37.4%, European Union (27) 17.9%, China (including Hong Kong) 4.8%, Panama 4.8%, Nicaragua 4.2%. Imports-$13.57 billion: raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum. Major suppliers (2010)-US 46.8%, European Union (27) 7.9%, China 7.1%, Mexico 6.4%, Japan 3.6%.


Unlike many of their Central American neighbors, present-day Costa Ricans are largely of European rather than mestizo descent; Spain was the primary country of origin. …

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