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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

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

Map references:

Central America and the Caribbean

Area:

total: 51,100 sq km
water: 440 sq km
note: includes Isla del Coco
land: 50,660 sq km

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:

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 volcanoes

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m

Natural resources:

hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 4.41%
permanent crops: 5.88%
other: 89.71% (2001)

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, 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

Geography - note:

four volcanoes, two of them active, rise near the capital of San Jose in the left of the country; one of the volcanoes, Irazu, erupted destructively in 1963-65

People

Population:

4,016,173 (July 2005 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 28.9% (male 593,540/female 566,361)
15-64 years: 65.5% (male 1,330,481/female 1,300,664)
65 years and over: 5.6% (male 104,564/female 120,563) (2005 est.)

Median age:

total: 26.03 years
male: 25.59 years
female: 26.5 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.48% (2005 est.)

Birth rate:

18.6 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Death rate:

4.33 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)

Net migration rate:

0.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 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 (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 9.95 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
male: 10.85 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 76.84 years
male: 74.26 years
female: 79.55 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.28 children born/woman (2005 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%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%

Languages:

Spanish (official), English

Literacy:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96%
male: 95.9%
female: 96.1% (2003 est.)

Government

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Costa Rica
conventional short form: Costa Rica
local short form: Costa Rica
local long form: Republica de 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 jurisdiction

Suffrage:

18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Source: CIA World Factbook