Costa Rica is located in Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, the North Pacific Ocean, Nicaragua and Panama. The total area of Costa Rica is 51,100-sq. km., whereas he total land area is 50,660 sq. km.
Costa Rica’s maritime claims include 200 NM in an exclusive economic zone and 12 NM in territorial sea.
The tropical climate of Costa Rica consists of a dry season in December that extends until April and a rainy season that extends from May to November.
Most of Costa Rica’s terrain is made up of coastal plains separated by several sets of rugged mountains. The land that arable consists of 6% of the total area, 7% is permanent crops, 45% is meadows and pastures, 34% forest and woodland and 8% that is swamps and water. All of the land has hydroelectric potential.
Costa Rica’s environment has many current problems including deforestation-largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching, and soil erosion. Natural disasters such as hurricanes along the Atlantic coast frequently flooded lowlands, active volcanoes and occasional earthquakes.
Costa Rica’s population is 3,419,114 (as of July 1995) and consists of different ethnic groups such as white (including mestizo) 96%, black 2%, Indian 1% and Chinese 1%. Costa Rica’s official language is Spanish but English is spoken around Puerto Limon. About 95% of the Costa Rican people have a religion that is Roman Catholic. About 35% of the population is from zero to fourteen years old, 60% of the people are from 15 to 64 years old and 5% of the population is over 65 years. Costa Rica’s population grows at about 2.24% per year with a 24.88/1000 birth rate and a 3.47/1,000 death rate.
The culture of Costa Rica is almost entirely Hispanic, Indian elements having been absorbed into the mostly white population. Indian influences are notable in handicrafts. Jewelers sometimes imitate ancient designs. Writers such as Joaquin Garcia Monge (1881-1958) and Roberto Brenes Mesen are from Costa Rica. In San Jose, Cartago, and Arosi, there are a number of buildings in Spanish-colonial style. Costa Rican music is almost completely Hispanic with no Indian influences. The guitar, accordion, mandolin, and marimba are the most popular instruments. There are many types of folk music, the popular being callejeras, sentimental street songs, patrioticas (patriotic songs), and danjas (dances). The National Theater in San Jose is an impressive building with Carrara marble stairways and balconies. The theater serves as an opera house, concert hall and playhouse. Popular films include those from the United States, Mexico and Argentina. There are six Spanish language daily!
newspapers and one English Daily, all published in San Jose.
The people call each other and themselves ticas (female) and ticos (male). Most of the people are peasants and farmers of the Central Valley. There are twenty-two Indian Reservations, which are of no interest. Most Costa Rican “ticos” and “ticas” are very friendly and family oriented.
Costa Rica’s national product is GDP-purchasing power parity-$16.9 billion. The National product real growth rate is 4.3% per year and their national product per capita is $5,050. Costa Rica’s inflation rate is 9% and the unemployment rate is 4% considering there is much underemployment. The Costa Rican budget revenue is about $1.1billion and the expenditures are $1.34 billion including capital expenditures of $110 million.
Costa Rica’s exports in 1993 were close to two billion and include coffee, bananas, textiles, and sugar. Costa Rica’s trade partners include the United States, Germany, Italy, Guatemala, El Salvador, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and France. Costa Rica’s imports in 1993 were close to three billion dollars and include commodities such as raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, and petroleum. Countries the commodities come from include the United States, Japan, Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, and Germany.
Industrial Production in Costa Rica accounts for 22% of Costa Rica’s GDP. Costa Rica’s industries include food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, and plastic products.
Costa Rica’s agriculture accounts for 19% of the GDP and 70% of exports. Cash commodities include coffee, beef, bananas, and sugar. Costa Rica’s other food crops include corn, rice, beans, and potatoes. Costa Rica is usually self sufficient in food, except for grain. Costa Rica is also dealing with a depletion of forest resources resulting in low timber output.
Costa Rica has a limited production of illicit drugs centering on Cannabis. Cannabis is grown on small, scattered plots. Costa Rica is also a transshipment country for cocaine and heroin from South America.
Costa Rica’s currency is the Costa Rican Colon. The colon is equivalent to one hundred centimos. The U.S. exchange rate is 164.39 colons to 1 U.S. dollar.
Costa Rica’s Government is a democratic republic. The capital of Costa Rica is San Jose. Cost Rica is divided into seven provinces. The provinces are Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntaremas, and San Jose.
Costa Rica gained its independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. Costa Rica’s national holiday is Independence Day and is celebrated on September fifteenth. The constitution of Costa Rica was implemented on November 9, 1949. Costa Ricans can vote at age eighteen.
Costa Rica’s government is lead by President Jose Maria Figueres. Costa Rica also has two Vice-Presidents. First Vice-President – Rodrigo Oreamuno, and Second Vice-President- Rebeca Grynspan. All three of these leaders were elected on February 6, 1994. The next election will be in February of 1998. The president also has a cabinet that he selects.
The Legislative Branch of Costa Rica’s government is unicameral or one housed. The name of the Legislative Branch is Legislative Assembly. The election of this body of government was also held in February 6, 1994. Of the sixty-one seats available twenty-eight seats went to the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN) and 29 seats went to the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC). There were four minority party votes. Judicial Branch consists of a Supreme Court.
Costa Rica has diplomatic representation in the U.S. The embassy is in Washington D.C. The Ambassador is Sonia Picado. The U.S. also has diplomatic representation in Costa Rica. The Ambassador is Peter DeVos. The embassy is in San Jose.
The flag of Costa Rica has five horizontal bands. The five horizontal bands in descending order are blue, white, double width red, white, and blue again. The coat of arms is on the hoist side of the flag in the red band in a white disk.
Transportation in Costa Rica is readily available. These are some of Costa Rica’s travel objects:
Railroads travel from side to side and end to end throughout the country. They are a very popular way of transporting goods.
In Costa Rica there are 35,560 km of road, and 5,600 of them are paved.
There are inland waterways in Costa Rica. There are about 730 km of waterways and they are only used seasonally due to some weather conditions.
Costa Rica also has airports as a way of transportation. There are 174 airports in Costa Rica and they are spread out through the country. Of these 174 runways 2 are between 2438 and 3047 m both paved and 1 between 1524 and 2437 m which is also paved. There are a total of 137 paved airports and 37 unpaved airports. All unpaved airports are under 2438 m.
Communications in Costa Rica are about the same as they are here in America. In Costa Rica they have phones, a mailing system, radios, and television stations.
Costa Rica’s Defense Forces include a civil guard, coast guard, Air section, and Rural Assistance Guard. The Constitution of Costa Rica prohibits armed forces. The manpower availability, men between 15 and 49, of Costa Rica is about 896,500. Of that there are 602,785 males are fit for military service. 32,815 males reach military age, 18, annually. Costa Rica’s defense expenditures are around 22 million in U.S. dollars this is .5% of the GDP in 1989.