Facts about Costa-Rica
|Population||4,195,914 (July 2008 est.|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)|
Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama
General info about Costa-Rica
Although explored by the Spanish early in the 16th century, initial attempts at colonizing Costa Rica proved unsuccessful due to a combination of factors, including: disease from mosquito-infested swamps, brutal heat, resistance by natives, and pirate raids. It was not until 1563 that a permanent settlement of Cartago was established in the cooler, fertile central highlands. The area remained a colony for some two and a half centuries. In 1821, Costa Rica became one of several Central American provinces that jointly declared their independence from Spain. Two years later it joined the United Provinces of Central America, but this federation disintegrated in 1838, at which time Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence. Since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred the country's democratic development. Although it still maintains a large agricultural sector, Costa Rica has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism industries. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
Spanish (official), English
What about drugs?
transshipment country for cocaine and heroin from South America; illicit production of cannabis in remote areas; domestic cocaine consumption, particularly crack cocaine, is rising; significant consumption of amphetamines
white (including mestizo) 94%, black 3%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1%, other 1%
HIV/AIDS prevalence rate
0.6% (2003 est.)
tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands
Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Exports have become more diversified in the past 10 years due to the growth of the high-tech manufacturing sector, which is dominated by the microprocessor industry. Tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange, as Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity makes it a key destination for ecotourism. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and high education levels, as well as the fiscal incentives offered in the free-trade zones. Costa Rica has attracted the second largest amount of foreign direct investment in Latin America. Poverty has remained around 20% for nearly 20 years, and the strong social safety net that had been put into place by the government has eroded due to increased financial constraints on government expenditures. Immigration from Nicaragua has increasingly become a concern for the government. The estimated 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans estimated to be in Costa Rica legally and illegally are an important source of - mostly unskilled - labor, but also place heavy demands on the social welfare system. The government continues to grapple with its large internal and external deficits and sizable internal debt. Reducing inflation remains a difficult problem because of rising import prices, labor market rigidities, and fiscal deficits, though lower oil prices will decrease upward pressures. The Central Bank is moving towards a more flexible exchange rate system to focus on inflation targeting by 2010. The US-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) will enter into force in January 2009, after significant delays within the Costa Rican legislature. Nevertheless, economic growth will slow in 2009 as the global slowdown reduces export demand and invesment inflows.
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
Cities in Costa-Rica