Costa Rica Tour

 

Introduction

Background: Costa Rica declared its independence from Spain in 1821. After a turbulent beginning it inaugurated an era of peaceful democracy in 1889, subsequently interrupted only twice, by a dictatorial interlude in 1917-19 and an armed uprising in 1948. Increasing the role of the private sector while maintaining the government's social safety net and keeping under control the budget deficit, unemployment, and inflation are key current issues.

Geography

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:
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

Land use:
arable land: 6%
permanent crops: 5%
permanent pastures: 46%
forests and woodland: 31%
other: 12% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 1,200 sq km (1993 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, 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

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People

Population: 3,674,490 (July 1999 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 33% (male 622,260; female 593,720)
15-64 years: 62% (male 1,150,900; female 1,121,970)
65 years and over: 5% (male 85,526; female 100,114) (1999 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.89% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 22.46 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 4.16 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.63 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 12.89 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.04 years
male: 73.6 years
female: 78.61 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.76 children born/woman (1999 est.)

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

Ethnic groups: white (including mestizo) 96%, black 2%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1%

Religions: Roman Catholic 95%

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

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.8%
male: 94.7%
female: 95% (1995 est.)

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Government

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

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 Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ (since 8 May 1998); First Vice President Astrid FISCHEL Volio (since 8 May 1998), Second Vice President Elizabeth ODIO Benito (since 8 May 1998); note—president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ (since 8 May 1998); First Vice President Astrid FISCHEL Volio (since 8 May 1998), Second Vice President Elizabeth ODIO Benito (since 8 May 1998); note—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 1 February 1998 (next to be held NA February 2002)
election results: Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ elected president; percent of vote—Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ (PUSC) 46.6%, Jose Miguel CORRALES (PLN) 44.6%

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 1 February 1998 (next to be held NA February 2002)
election results: percent of vote by party—PUSC 41%, PLN 35%, minority parties 24%; seats by party—PUSC 27, PLN 23, minority parties 7

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

Political parties and leaders: Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ Echeverria]; National Liberation Party or PLN [Jose Miguel CORRALES Bolanos]; National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes]; National Independent Party or PNI [Jorge GONZALEZ Marten]; People United Party or PPU [Norma VARGAS Duarte]; National Christian Alliance Party or ANC [Alejandro MADRIGAL Benavides]; Democratic Force Party or PFD [Vladimir DE LA CRUZ de Lemos]; Libertarian Movement Party or PML [Federico MALAVASI Calvo]; Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Sherman Thomas JACKSON]; New Democratic Party or PDN [Rodrigo GUTIERREZ Schwanhauser]; National Rescue Party or PRN [Marina VOLIO Brenes]; Democratic Party or PD [Alvaro GONZALEZ Espinoza]; Independent Party or PI [Yolanda GUTIERREZ Ventura]; Agriculture Labor Action [leader NA]
note: mainly a two-party system—PUSC and PLN; numerous small parties share less than 25% of population's support

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

International organization participation: 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, OPCW, 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
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 Thomas J. DODD
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

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Economy

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. Economic growth has rebounded from -0.9% in 1996 to 3% in 1997 and an estimated 5.5% in 1998. Inflation rose to 22.5% in 1995, dropped to 11.1% in 1997, and reached an estimated 12% in 1998. Unemployment appears moderate at 5.6%, but substantial underemployment continues. Furthermore, large government deficits—fueled by interest payments on the massive internal debt—have undermined efforts to maintain the quality of social services. Curbing inflation, reducing the deficit, and improving public sector efficiency remain key challenges to the government. President RODRIGUEZ has called for an increased economic role for the private sector, but political resistance to privatization has stalled much of his economic program.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$24 billion (1998 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 5.5% (1998 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$6,700 (1998 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 15%
industry: 24%
services: 61% (1997)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.3%
highest 10%: 34.7% (1996)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 12% (1998 est.)

Labor force: 868,300

Labor force—by occupation: industry and commerce 23.3%, government and services 55.1%, agriculture 21.6% (1996 est.)

Unemployment rate: 5.6% (1998 est.); much underemployment

Budget:
revenues: $1.1 billion
expenditures: $1.34 billion, including capital expenditures of $110 million (1991 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: 10.5% (1992)

Electricity—production: 4.785 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity—production by source:
fossil fuel: 14.11%
hydro: 75.44%
nuclear: 0%
other: 10.45% (1996)

Electricity—consumption: 4.931 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity—exports: 44 million kWh (1996)

Electricity—imports: 190 million kWh (1996)

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

Exports: $3.9 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

Exports—commodities: manufactured products, coffee, bananas, textiles, sugar (1997)

Exports—partners: US, Benelux, Germany, Italy, Guatemala, El Salvador, Netherlands, UK, France (1997)

Imports: $4.5 billion (c.i.f., 1998)

Imports—commodities: raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum (1997)

Imports—partners: US, Japan, Mexico, Venezuela, Guatemala, Germany (1997)

Debt—external: $3.2 billion (October 1996 est.)

Economic aid—recipient: $107.1 million (1995)

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

Exchange rates: Costa Rican colones (C) per US$1—320(January 2001), 272.58 (1999), 257.23 (1998), 232.60 (1997), 207.69 (1996), 179.73 (1995), 157.07 (1994)

Fiscal year: calendar year

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Communications

Telephones: 281,042 (1983 est.)

Telephone system: very good domestic telephone service
domestic: NA
international: connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 71, FM 0, shortwave 13

Radios: NA

Television broadcast stations: 6 (in addition, there are 11 repeaters) (1997)

Televisions: 340,000 (1993 est.)

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Transportation

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

Highways:
total: 35,597 km
paved: 6,051 km
unpaved: 29,546 km (1997 est.)

Waterways: about 730 km, seasonally navigable

Pipelines: petroleum products 176 km

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

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 156 (1998 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 28
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 18
under 914 m: 7 (1998 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 128
914 to 1,523 m: 29
under 914 m: 99 (1998 est.)

Military

Military branches: Coast Guard, Air Section, Ministry of Public Security Force (Fuerza Publica); note—during 1996, the Ministry of Public Security reorganized and eliminated the Civil Guard, Rural Assistance Guard, and Frontier Guards as separate entities; they are now under the Ministry and operate on a geographic command basis performing ground security, law enforcement, counternarcotics, and national security (border patrol) functions; the constitution prohibits armed forces

Military manpower—military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 988,887 (1999 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 662,827 (1999 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 36,751 (1999 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $55 million (1995)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 2% (1995)

Transnational Issues

Disputes—international: none

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

monteverde costa rica horseback riding vacation tour

 

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