Costa Rica
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Costa Rica Facts

Quick Facts from the CIA World Factbook

Republica de Costa Rica

Capital: San José

Currency: Costa Rican Colon (CRC)

Exchange Rates: Costa Rican colones (CRC) per US dollar - 580.01 (2009), 530.41 (2008), 519.53 (2007), 511.3 (2006), 477.79 (2005)

Population: 4,253,877 (July 2010 est.)

Nationality: 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

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

Total Area: 639 kilometers (397 miles).

Climate: tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands

Border countries: Nicaragua 309 kilometers (192 miles), Panama 330 kilometers (205 miles).

Terrain: coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major volcanoes

Highest Point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 meters (12,500 feet).

Environmental 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

Environmental International Agreements: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, WhalingModification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling

Geography Interesting Fact: four volcanoes, two of them active, rise near the capital of San Jose in the center of the country; one of the volcanoes, Irazu, erupted destructively in 1963-65

Independence: September 15, 1821 (from Spain)

Chief of State: President Laura CHINCHILLA Miranda (since 8 May 2010); First Vice President Alfio PIVA Mesen (since 8 May 2010); Second Vice President Luis LIBERMAN Ginsburg (since 8 May 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Economy: Prior to the global economic crisis, Costa Rica enjoyed stable economic growth. The economy contracted 1.6% in 2009. While the traditional agricultural exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are still the backbone of commodity export trade, a variety of industrial and specialized agricultural products have broadened export trade in recent years. High value added goods and services, including microchips, have further bolstered exports. 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 relatively high education levels, as well as the fiscal incentives offered in the free-trade zones; and Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. However, many business impediments, such as high levels of bureaucracy, difficulty of enforcing contracts, and weak investor protection, remain. Poverty has remained around 15-20% 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. Unlike the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is not highly dependent on remittances as they only represent about 2% of GDP. Immigration from Nicaragua has increasingly become a concern for the government. The estimated 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans in Costa Rica legally and illegally are an important source of - mostly unskilled - labor, but also place heavy demands on the social welfare system. Under the ARIAS administration, the government has made strides in reducing internal and external debt - in 2007, Costa Rica had its first budget surplus in 50 years. The US-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force on 1 January 2009, after significant delays within the Costa Rican legislature.

GDP Per Capita: $10,900 (2009 est.)

Population below the poverty line: 16% (2006 est.)

Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (2009 est.)

Agriculture Products: coffee, pineapples, bananas, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef; timber

Export Commodities: coffee, bananas, sugar; pineapples; textiles, electronic components, medical equipment

International Disputes: the ICJ has given Costa Rica until January 2008 to reply and Nicaragua until July 2008 to rejoin before rendering its decision on the navigation, security, and commercial rights of Costa Rican vessels on the Río San Juan over which Nicaragua retains sovereignty

Illicit 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; seizures of smuggled cash in Costa Rica and at the main border crossing to enter Costa Rica from Nicaragua have risen in recent years (2008)










08 Oct 2010




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