Costa Rica

Costa Rica

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For the plant genus Costa Rica, see its synonym Sicyos
Sicyos
Sicyos is a flowering plant genus of the family Cucurbitaceae.Members of the genus are commonly known as burr cucumbers.-Selected species:-Formerly placed here:* Blastania garcini Cogn....

.

Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica ( or , reˈpuβlika ðe ˈkosta ˈrika) is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

, bordered by Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

 to the north, Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 to the west and the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

 to the east.

Costa Rica, which means "Rich Coast", constitutionally abolished its army
Military of Costa Rica
On December 1, 1948, President José Figueres Ferrer of Costa Rica abolished the military of Costa Rica after victory in the civil war in that year....

 permanently in 1949. It is the only Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

n country included in the list of the world's 22 older democracies. Costa Rica has consistently been among the top Latin American countries in the Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

 (HDI), ranked 69th in the world in 2011. Also was cited by the UNDP in 2010 as one of the countries that have attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels, and in 2011 was highlighted by UNDP for being a good performer on environmental sustainability, and better record on human development and inequality than the median of their region. It was also the only country to meet all five criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. The country is ranked third in the world, and first among the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, in terms of the 2010 Environmental Performance Index
Environmental Performance Index
The Environmental Performance Index is a method of quantifying and numerically benchmarking the environmental performance of a country's policies. This index was developed from the Pilot Environmental Performance Index, first published in 2002, and designed to supplement the environmental targets...

.

In 2007, the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbon-neutral
Carbon neutral
Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference...

 country by 2021. According to the New Economics Foundation
New Economics Foundation
The New Economics Foundation is a British think-tank.NEF was founded in 1986 by the leaders of The Other Economic Summit with the aim of working for a "new model of wealth creation, based on equality, diversity and economic stability"....

, Costa Rica ranks first in the Happy Planet Index
Happy Planet Index
The Happy Planet Index is an index of human well-being and environmental impact that was introduced by the New Economics Foundation in July 2006. The index is designed to challenge well-established indices of countries’ development, such as Gross Domestic Product and the Human Development Index...

 and is the "greenest
Environmentally friendly
Environmentally friendly are terms used to refer to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies claimed to inflict minimal or no harm on the environment....

" country in the world.

Pre-Colombian period


Historians have classified the indigenous people
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 of Costa Rica as belonging to the Intermediate Area
Intermediate Area
The Intermediate Area is an archaeological geographical area of the Americas that was defined in its clearest form by Gordon R. Willey in his 1971 book An Introduction to American Archaeology, Vol. 2: South America...

, where the peripheries of the Mesoamerican and Andean native cultures overlapped. More recently, pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian era
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 Costa Rica has also been described as part of the Isthmo-Colombian
Isthmo-Colombian
The Isthmo-Colombian area is defined as a cultural area encompassing those territories occupied by speakers of the Chibchan languages at the time of European contact...

 region. The northwest of the country, Nicoya Peninsula
Nicoya Peninsula
The Nicoya Peninsula is a peninsula on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and lies in the Guanacaste Province in the north, and the Puntarenas Province in the south. It is located at . It varies from 19 to wide and is approximately long, and forms the largest peninsula in the country. It is known...

, was the southernmost reach of the Nahuatl
Nahuatl
Nahuatl is thought to mean "a good, clear sound" This language name has several spellings, among them náhuatl , Naoatl, Nauatl, Nahuatl, Nawatl. In a back formation from the name of the language, the ethnic group of Nahuatl speakers are called Nahua...

 culture when the Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 conquistador
Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

s arrived in the 16th century. The central and southern portions of the country had Chibcha influences.

The impact of the peoples on modern Costa Rican culture has been relatively small compared to other nations, since the country lacked a strong native civilization to begin with. Most of the native population was absorbed into the Spanish-speaking colonial society through miscegenation
Miscegenation
Miscegenation is the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, and procreation....

, except for some small remnants, the most significant of which are the Bribri and Boruca tribes who still inhabit the mountains of the Cordillera de Talamanca
Cordillera de Talamanca
The Cordillera de Talamanca is a mountain range that lies on the border between Costa Rica and Panama. Much of the range and the area around it is included in the La Amistad International Park, which also is shared between the two countries....

, in the southern part of Costa Rica, near the frontier with Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

.

Spanish colonization


During most of the colonial period, Costa Rica was the southernmost province of the Captaincy General of Guatemala
Captaincy General of Guatemala
The Captaincy General of Guatemala , also known as the Kingdom of Guatemala , was an administrative division in Spanish America which covered much of Central America, including what are now the nations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and the Mexican state of Chiapas...

, which was nominally part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

 (i.e., Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

), but which in practice operated as a largely autonomous entity within the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

. Costa Rica's distance from the capital in Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, its legal prohibition under Spanish law to trade with its southern neighbors in Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

, then part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

 (i.e., Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

), and the lack of resources, such as gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 and silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

, made Costa Rica into a poor, isolated, and sparsely inhabited region within the Spanish Empire. Costa Rica was described as "the poorest and most miserable Spanish colony in all America" by a Spanish governor in 1719.

Another important factor behind Costa Rica's poverty was the lack of a significant indigenous population available for forced labor
Encomienda
The encomienda was a system that was employed mainly by the Spanish crown during the colonization of the Americas to regulate Native American labor....

, which meant most of the Costa Rican settlers had to work on their own land, preventing the establishment of large hacienda
Hacienda
Hacienda is a Spanish word for an estate. Some haciendas were plantations, mines, or even business factories. Many haciendas combined these productive activities...

s. For all these reasons, Costa Rica was by and large unappreciated and overlooked by the Spanish Crown
Habsburg Spain
Habsburg Spain refers to the history of Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries , when Spain was ruled by the major branch of the Habsburg dynasty...

 and left to develop on its own. The circumstances during this period are believed to have led to many of the idiosyncrasies
Idiosyncrasy
An idiosyncrasy is an unusual feature of a person . The term is often used to express eccentricity or peculiarity. A synonym may be .-Etymology:...

 for which Costa Rica has become known, while concomitantly setting the stage for Costa Rica's development as a more egalitarian
Egalitarianism
Egalitarianism is a trend of thought that favors equality of some sort among moral agents, whether persons or animals. Emphasis is placed upon the fact that equality contains the idea of equity of quality...

 society than the rest of its neighbors. Costa Rica became a "rural democracy" with no oppressed mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

 or indigenous class. It was not long before Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 settlers turned to the hills, where they found rich volcanic soil and a milder climate than that of the lowlands.

Independence


Like the rest of Central America, Costa Rica never fought for independence from Spain. On September 15, 1821, after the final Spanish defeat in the Mexican War of Independence
Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought...

 (1810–1821), the authorities in Guatemala declared the independence of all of Central America. That date is still celebrated as Independence Day in Costa Rica, even though, technically, under the Spanish Constitution of 1812
Spanish Constitution of 1812
The Spanish Constitution of 1812 was promulgated 19 March 1812 by the Cádiz Cortes, the national legislative assembly of Spain, while in refuge from the Peninsular War...

 that had been readopted in 1820, Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

 and Costa Rica had become an autonomous province with its capital in León
León, Nicaragua
León is a department in northwestern Nicaragua . It is also the second largest city in Nicaragua, after Managua. It was founded by the Spaniards as Santiago de los Caballeros de León and rivals Granada, Nicaragua, in the number of historic Spanish colonial homes and churches...

.

Like other Central Spanish nations, Costa Rica considered annexation to the short-lived First Mexican Empire
First Mexican Empire
The Mexican Empire was the official name of independent Mexico under a monarchical regime from 1821 to 1823. The territory of the Mexican Empire included the continental intendencies and provinces of New Spain proper...

 of Agustín de Iturbide
Agustín de Iturbide
Agustín Cosme Damián de Iturbide y Aramburu , also known as Augustine I of Mexico, was a Mexican army general who built a successful political and military coalition that was able to march into Mexico City on 27 September 1821, decisively ending the Mexican War of Independence...

, but, after its collapse in 1823, Costa Rica became instead a province of the new Federal Republic of Central America
Federal Republic of Central America
The Federal Republic of Central America, known as the United Provinces of Central America in its first year of creation, was a sovereign state in Central America, which consisted of the territories of the former Captaincy General of Guatemala of New Spain...

, which theoretically existed from 1823 to 1839, but which exercised a very loose authority over its constituent provinces, particularly the poor and remote Costa Rica. In 1824, the Costa Rican capital was moved to San José
San José, Costa Rica
San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica. Located in the Central Valley, San José is the seat of national government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and the major transportation hub of this Central American nation.Founded in 1738 by order of Cabildo de León, San...

, leading to a brief outburst of violence over rivalry with the old capital, Cartago
Cartago, Costa Rica
- See also :* Cartago Agrarian Union Party* Provincial Integration Party Three* Cartago in Spanish...

. While civil wars raged both among the provinces of the Federal Republic of Central America and between political factions within individual provinces, Costa Rica remained largely at peace.
In 1838, long after the Federal Republic of Central America ceased to function in practice, Costa Rica formally withdrew and proclaimed itself sovereign. The considerable distance and poor communication routes between Guatemala City
Guatemala City
Guatemala City , is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America...

 and the Central Plateau, where most of the Costa Rican population lived then and still lives now, meant the local population had little allegiance to the federal government in Guatemala. From colonial times to now, Costa Rica's reluctance to become politically tied with the rest of Central America has been a major obstacle to efforts for greater regional integration.

Economic growth


Coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

 was first planted in Costa Rica in the early 19th century, and was first shipped to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 in 1843, soon becoming Costa Rica's first major export. Coffee production would remain Costa Rica's principal source of wealth well into the 20th century. Most of the coffee exported was grown around the main centers of population in the Central Plateau and then transported by oxcart to the Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 port of Puntarenas
Puntarenas
Puntarenas is the capital and largest city in the province Puntarenas, Costa Rica, at the Pacific coast. The eponymous and oddly shaped province has its largest section in the South, far from the capital.Some 100,000 live in the city and close towns...

. Since the main market for the coffee was in Europe, it soon became a high priority to develop a transportation route from the Central Plateau to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. For this purpose, in the 1870s, the Costa Rican government contracted with U.S. businessman Minor C. Keith
Minor C. Keith
Minor Cooper Keith was a U.S. railroad, fruit, and shipping magnate whose business activities had a profound impact in Central America and in Colombia.- Early life :...

 to build a railroad to the Caribbean
Western Caribbean Zone
The Western Caribbean Zone is a historic region that formed in the late sixteenth century and includes the Caribbean coasts of Central America, from Yucatán in Mexico to northern Colombia, and also the islands west of Jamaica...

 port of Limón
Limón
Puerto Limón, commonly known as Limón , is the capital city and main hub of Limón province, as well as of the cantón of Limón in Costa Rica. It has a population of about 60,000 , and is home to a thriving Afro-Caribbean community...

. Despite enormous difficulties with construction, disease, and financing, the railroad was completed in 1890.

Most Afro-Costa Ricans, who constitute about 3% of the country's population, descend from Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

n immigrants who worked in the construction of that railway. United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 convicts
Penal labour
Penal labour is a form of unfree labour in which prisoners perform work, typically manual labour. The work may be light or hard, depending on the context. Forms of sentence which involve penal labour include penal servitude and imprisonment with hard labour...

, Italians and Chinese
Chinese people
The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following:*People with Han Chinese ethnicity ....

 immigrants also participated in the construction project. In exchange for completing the railroad, the Costa Rican government granted Keith large tracts of land and a lease on the train route, which he used to produce banana
Banana
Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....

s and export them to the United States. As a result, bananas came to rival coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

 as the principal Costa Rican export
Export
The term export is derived from the conceptual meaning as to ship the goods and services out of the port of a country. The seller of such goods and services is referred to as an "exporter" who is based in the country of export whereas the overseas based buyer is referred to as an "importer"...

, while foreign-owned corporation
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

s (including the United Fruit Company
United Fruit Company
It had a deep and long-lasting impact on the economic and political development of several Latin American countries. Critics often accused it of exploitative neocolonialism and described it as the archetypal example of the influence of a multinational corporation on the internal politics of the...

) began to hold a major role in the national economy.

20th century


Historically, Costa Rica has generally enjoyed greater peace and more consistent political stability compared with many of its fellow Latin American nations. Since the late 19th century, however, Costa Rica has experienced two significant periods of violence. In 1917–19, General Federico Tinoco Granados
Federico Tinoco Granados
Term of office: 27 January 1917 to13 August 1919– Preceded by:  Alfredo González– Succeeded by: Juan Bautista QuirósDate of birth: 21 November 1868Place of birth:San JoséDate of death: 7 September 1931Place of death:Paris, France...

 ruled as a military dictator until he was overthrown and forced into exile. The unpopularity of Tinoco's regime led, after he was overthrown, to a considerable decline in the size, wealth, and political influence of the Costa Rican military. In 1948, José Figueres Ferrer
José Figueres Ferrer
José María Hipólito Figueres Ferrer , served as President of Costa Rica on three occasions:1948–1949, 1953–1958, and 1970–1974....

 led an armed uprising in the wake of a disputed presidential election between president Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia
Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia
Rafael Ángel del Socorro Calderón Guardia was the president of Costa Rica from 1940 to 1944.-Early life:Calderón was born on 10 March 1900 in San José. In his youth, Calderón studied in Costa Rica and Belgium, where he married Yvonne Clays Spoelders, who was later to be the first female diplomat of...

 and Otilio Ulate Blanco
Otilio Ulate Blanco
Luis Emilio Rafael Otilio Gonzalez Ulate y Blanco served as President of Costa Rica from 1949 to 1953. His French heritage comes from his mother, Ermida Blanco...

. With more than 2,000 dead, the resulting 44-day Costa Rican Civil War
Costa Rican Civil War
The Costa Rican Civil War was the bloodiest event in 20th century Costa Rican history. It lasted for 44 days , during which approximately 2,000 people are believed to have died...

 was the bloodiest event in Costa Rica during the 20th century.

The victorious rebels formed a government junta that abolished the military
Military of Costa Rica
On December 1, 1948, President José Figueres Ferrer of Costa Rica abolished the military of Costa Rica after victory in the civil war in that year....

 altogether, and oversaw the drafting of a new constitution by a democratically elected assembly. Having enacted these reforms, the junta relinquished its power on November 8, 1949, to the new democratic government. After the coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

, Figueres became a national hero, winning the country's first democratic election under the new constitution in 1953. Since then, Costa Rica has held 13 presidential elections, the latest in 2010. All of them have been widely regarded by the international community as peaceful and transparent.

Provinces, cantons, and districts



Costa Rica is composed of seven provinces, which in turn are divided into 81 cantons , each of which is directed by a mayor. Mayors are chosen democratically every four years by each canton's people. There are no provincial legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

s. The cantons are further divided into 421 districts . The provinces are:
  1. Alajuela
    Alajuela Province
    Alajuela is a province of Costa Rica. It is located in the north-central part of the country, bordering Nicaragua to the north, and clockwise the provinces Heredia, San José, Puntarenas and Guanacaste...

  2. Cartago
    Cartago Province
    Cartago is a province of Costa Rica. It is located in the central part of the country. Bordering provinces are Limón to the east and San José to the west. The capital is Cartago and it was formerly the capital city of Costa Rica until 1823 when the capital was changed to San Jose...

  3. Guanacaste
    Guanacaste Province
    Guanacaste is a province of Costa Rica located in the northwestern part of the country, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. To the north it borders Nicaragua. To the east is the Alajuela Province, and to the southeast is the Puntarenas Province. It is the most sparsely populated of all the...

  4. Heredia
    Heredia Province
    Heredia is a province of Costa Rica. It is located in the north-central part of the country. As a result, the province covers areas as diverse as the agriculture rich Northern plains of San Carlos as well as the more metropolitan areas like the city of Heredia located in the Central Valley...

  5. Limón
    Limón Province
    Limón is one of seven provinces in Costa Rica. The majority of its territory is situated in the country's Caribbean lowlands, though the southwestern portion houses part of an extensive mountain range known as the Cordillera de Talamanca...

  6. Puntarenas
    Puntarenas Province
    Puntarenas is a province of Costa Rica. It is located in the western part of the country, covering most of Costa Rica's Pacific Ocean coast, and it is the largest province in Costa Rica. Clockwise from the northwest it borders on the provinces Guanacaste, Alajuela, San José and Limón, and the...

  7. San José
    San José Province
    San José is a province of Costa Rica. It is located in the central part of the country, and borders the provinces of Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, Limón and Puntarenas. The provincial capital is San José. The province covers an area of 4,965.9 km²...


Geography


Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus
Isthmus
An isthmus is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas usually with waterforms on either side.Canals are often built through isthmuses where they may be particularly advantageous to create a shortcut for marine transportation...

, lying between latitudes
8th parallel north
The 8th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 8 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 12°N
12th parallel north
The 12th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 12 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 82°
82nd meridian west
The meridian 82° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, Central America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 86°W
86th meridian west
The meridian 86° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, Central America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. It borders the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

 (to the east) and the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 (to the west), with a total of 1290 kilometres (801.6 mi) of coastline, 212 km (131.7 mi) on the Caribbean coast and 1016 km (631.3 mi) on the Pacific.

Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

 to the north (309 km or 192 mi of border) and Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 to the south-southeast (639 km or 397.1 mi of border). In total, Costa Rica comprises 51100 square kilometres (19,729.8 sq mi) plus 589 square kilometres (227.4 sq mi) of territorial waters
Territorial waters
Territorial waters, or a territorial sea, as defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is a belt of coastal waters extending at most from the baseline of a coastal state...

.

The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó
Cerro Chirripó
Cerro Chirripó is the highest mountain in Costa Rica, with an altitude of . It is located in the Chirripó National Park and is noted for its ecological wealth. The high peaks in this and La Amistad International Park host important areas of Talamancan montane forest and Costa Rican Páramo with high...

, at 3819 metres (12,529.5 ft); it is the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano
Irazú Volcano
The Irazú Volcano is an active volcano in Costa Rica, situated in the Cordillera Central close to the city of Cartago.The name could come from either the combination of "ara" and "tzu" or a corruption of Iztarú, which was the name of an indigenous village on the flanks of the volcano...

 (3431 m or 11,256.6 ft). The largest lake in Costa Rica is Lake Arenal
Lake Arenal
Lake Arenal is an artificial lake in Costa Rica, located in the northern highlands of the country. It was enlarged to its present size as a part of a 1979 hydroelectric project by the Costa Rican government to provide electricity to the country.- Geography :...

.

Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island
Cocos Island
Cocos Island is an uninhabited island located off the shore of Costa Rica . It constitutes the 11th district of Puntarenas Canton of the province of Puntarenas. It is one of the National Parks of Costa Rica...

 (24 square kilometres (9.3 sq mi)) stands out because of its distance from continental landmass, 300 mi (482.8 km) from Puntarenas
Puntarenas
Puntarenas is the capital and largest city in the province Puntarenas, Costa Rica, at the Pacific coast. The eponymous and oddly shaped province has its largest section in the South, far from the capital.Some 100,000 live in the city and close towns...

, but Calero Island is the largest island of the country (151.6 square kilometres (58.5 sq mi)). Over 25% of Costa Rica's national territory is protected by SINAC
SINAC
SINAC the National System of Conservation Areas, or in Spanish the , is the Costa Rican National Parks administrator, and is part of the Ministry of Environment and Energy or MINAE...

 (the National System of Conservation Areas), which oversees all of the country's protected areas. Costa Rica also possesses the greatest density of species in the world.

Climate



Because Costa Rica is located between 8 and 12 degrees north of the Equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

, the climate is tropical
Tropical climate
A tropical climate is a climate of the tropics. In the Köppen climate classification it is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above...

 year round. However, the country has many microclimate
Microclimate
A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet or as large as many square miles...

s depending on elevation, rainfall, topography, and by the geography of each particular region.

Costa Rica's seasons are defined by how much rain falls during a particular period and not to the four seasons
Season
A season is a division of the year, marked by changes in weather, ecology, and hours of daylight.Seasons result from the yearly revolution of the Earth around the Sun and the tilt of the Earth's axis relative to the plane of revolution...

 in the Northern Hemisphere. The year can be split into two periods, the dry season known to the residents as summer, and the rainy season, known locally as winter. The "summer" or dry season goes from December to April, and "winter" or rainy season goes from May to November, which almost coincides with the Atlantic hurricane season, and during this time, it rains constantly in some regions.

The location receiving the most rain is the Caribbean slopes of the Central Cordillera mountains, with an annual rainfall of over 5000 mm (196.9 in). Humidity is also higher on the Caribbean side than on the Pacific side. The mean annual temperature on the coastal lowlands is around 27 °C (81 °F), 20 °C (68 °F) in the main populated areas of the Central Cordilera, and below 10 °C (50 °F) on the summits of the highest mountains.

Costa Rica Weather Averages













































































Months January February March April May June July August September October November December
High Temperature (C) 27 27 28 28 27 27 27 27 26 26 26 26
Low Temperature (C) 17 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 17 18 18 18
Precipitation (mm) 6.3 10.2 13.8 79.9 267.6 280.1 181.5 276.9 355.1 330.6 135.5 33.5
Average Percent Sunshine 40 37 39 33 25 20 21 22 20 22 25 34

Economy





According to the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, Costa Rica's GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 per capita is US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

11,122 PPP
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

 (as of 2009); however, this developing country
Developing country
A developing country, also known as a less-developed country, is a nation with a low level of material well-being. Since no single definition of the term developing country is recognized internationally, the levels of development may vary widely within so-called developing countries...

 still faces the fourth-highest inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 rate in Latin America, lack of maintenance and new investment in infrastructure, a poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 rate estimated to be 5% to 8%, a 7.8% unemployment rate (2009 est.), and a trade deficit of 5.2%. For the fiscal year 2007, the country showed a government surplus
Economic surplus
In mainstream economics, economic surplus refers to two related quantities. Consumer surplus or consumers' surplus is the monetary gain obtained by consumers because they are able to purchase a product for a price that is less than the highest price that they would be willing to pay...

. Economic growth
Economic growth
In economics, economic growth is defined as the increasing capacity of the economy to satisfy the wants of goods and services of the members of society. Economic growth is enabled by increases in productivity, which lowers the inputs for a given amount of output. Lowered costs increase demand...

 in 2008 diminished to a 3% increase in the face of a global recession (down from 7% and 9% growth in the prior two years).

Costa Rica's inflation rate was an estimated 9.3% in 2007 and increased to 13.9% in 2008, Latin America's fourth-highest inflation rate for both years. On October 16, 2006, a new currency exchange
Foreign exchange market
The foreign exchange market is a global, worldwide decentralized financial market for trading currencies. Financial centers around the world function as anchors of trading between a wide range of different types of buyers and sellers around the clock, with the exception of weekends...

 system was introduced, allowing the value of the CRC colón to float between two bands as done previously by Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

. This policy's objective was to allow the Central Bank to be able to better tackle inflation and discourage the use of U.S. dollars. However, as of August 2009, the value of the colón against the dollar has decreased to 86% of its late-2006 value (see commonly available forex trading charts). The unit of currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 is the colón
Costa Rican colón
The colón is the currency of Costa Rica. The plural is colones in Spanish, but English speakers often say colons instead. The ISO 4217 code is CRC....

, and as of October 2010, it trades around 507 to the U.S. dollar
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

, and about 705 colones to the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

.

The central government offers tax exemption
Tax exemption
Various tax systems grant a tax exemption to certain organizations, persons, income, property or other items taxable under the system. Tax exemption may also refer to a personal allowance or specific monetary exemption which may be claimed by an individual to reduce taxable income under some...

s for those willing to invest in the country. Several global high tech corporations have already started developing in the area and are exporting goods, including chip manufacturer Intel, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline plc is a global pharmaceutical, biologics, vaccines and consumer healthcare company headquartered in London, United Kingdom...

, and consumer products company Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble is a Fortune 500 American multinational corporation headquartered in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio and manufactures a wide range of consumer goods....

. In 2006, Intel's microprocessor facility alone was responsible for 20% of Costa Rican exports and 4.9% of the country's GDP. Trade with Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 boomed during 2004 and 2005, and the country obtained full Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) membership in 2007 after becoming an observer in 2004. The Financial Times
Financial Times
The Financial Times is an international business newspaper. It is a morning daily newspaper published in London and printed in 24 cities around the world. Its primary rival is the Wall Street Journal, published in New York City....

 Intelligent Unit awarded Costa Rica with the fDi’s Caribbean and Central American Country of the Future 2011/12 for its successful record in attracting FDI into the country, and being the number one destination country in the region in terms of foreign direct investment
Foreign direct investment
Foreign direct investment or foreign investment refers to the net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor.. It is the sum of equity capital,other long-term capital, and short-term capital as shown in...

 (FDI) project numbers since 2003.

In recent times, pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, software development, and ecotourism
Ecotourism
Ecotourism is a form of tourism visiting fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas, intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism...

 have become the prime industries in Costa Rica's economy. High levels of education among its residents make the country an attractive investing location. Since 1999, tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

 earns more foreign exchange than the combined exports of the country's three main cash crops: bananas, pineapples and coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

. Coffee production
Coffee production in Costa Rica
The coffee production in Costa Rica played a key role in the country's history and still is important for the Costa Rican economy. In 2006, coffee was Costa Rica's number three export, after being the number one cash crop export for several decades. In 1997, the agriculture sector employed 28...

 has played a key role in Costa Rica's history and economy, and by 2006, was the third cash crop export.

The largest coffee growing areas are in the provinces of San José, Alajuela, Heredia, Puntarenas, and Cartago. Costa Rica is famous for its gourmet coffee beans, with Costa Rican Tarrazú
Tarrazú
Tarrazú is the name of the 5th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 297.50 km², and has a population of 15,142...

 among the finest arabica coffee beans in the world used for making espresso
Espresso
Espresso is a concentrated beverage brewed by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee. Espresso is widely known throughout the world....

 coffee, together with Jamaican Blue Mountain
Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee or Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is a classification of coffee grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. The best lots of Blue Mountain coffee are noted for their mild flavour and lack of bitterness...

, Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

n Antigua
Antigua Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala is a city in the central highlands of Guatemala famous for its well-preserved Spanish Mudéjar-influenced Baroque architecture as well as a number of spectacular ruins of colonial churches...

 and Ethiopian Sidamo.

Costa Rica's location provides access to American markets as it has the same time zone
Time zone
A time zone is a region on Earth that has a uniform standard time for legal, commercial, and social purposes. In order for the same clock time to always correspond to the same portion of the day as the Earth rotates , different places on the Earth need to have different clock times...

 as the central part of the United States and direct ocean access to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. In a countrywide referendum on October 5, 2007, the voters of Costa Rica narrowly backed a free trade agreement, with 51.6% of "Yes" votes.


With a $2.2 billion per year tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

 industry, Costa Rica is the most visited nation in the Central American region, with two million foreign visitors in 2008, which translates into a relatively high expenditure per tourist of $1,077 per trip, one of the highest in the Caribbean Basin. In 2008, most visitors came from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 (38.6%), neighboring Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

 (21.8%), Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 (11.3%) and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 (5.2%). In 2005, tourism contributed 8.1% of the country's GNP, and represented 13.3% of direct and indirect employment. Tourism now earns more foreign exchange than bananas and coffee combined.

Ecotourism draws many tourists to visit the extensive national parks and protected area
Protected area
Protected areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognised natural, ecological and/or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the enabling laws of each country or the regulations of the international...

s around the country. Costa Rica was a pioneer in this type of tourism, and the country is recognized as one of the few with true ecotourism. In terms of the 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index
Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report was first published in 2007 by the World Economic Forum. The 2007 report covered 124 major and emerging economies. The 2008 report covered 130 countries,, the 2009 report expanded to 133 countries, and the 2011 report to 139 countries...

, Costa Rica ranked 44th in the world and second among Latin American countries after Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. Considering its subindex natural resources, Costa Rica ranks sixth worldwide in the natural resources pillar, but 104th in terms of its cultural resources due to the country's limited number of cultural sites.

Costa Rica has also developed a system of payments for environmental services
Payment for ecosystem services
Payments for Ecosystem Services , also known as Payments for Environmental Services broadly defined, is the practice of offering incentives to farmers or landowners in exchange for managing their land to provide some sort of ecological service. These programmes promote the conservation of natural...

. Similarly, Costa Rica has a tax on water pollution to penalize businesses and homeowners that dump sewage, agricultural chemicals, and other pollutants into waterways. In May 2007, the Costa Rican government announced its intentions to become 100 percent carbon neutral before 2030. As of 2010, Costa Rica is well on its way towards accomplishing this goal, currently producing 90 percent of its electricity through renewable sources.

In 1996, the Forest Law was enacted to provide direct financial incentives to landowners for the provision of environmental services. This helped reorient the forestry sector away from commercial timber production and the resulting deforestation, and helped create awareness of the services it provides for the economy and society (i.e. carbon fixation
Carbon fixation
In biology, carbon fixation is the reduction of carbon dioxide to organic compounds by living organisms. The obvious example is photosynthesis. Carbon fixation requires both a source of energy such as sunlight, and an electron donor such as water. All life depends on fixed carbon. Organisms that...

, hydrological services such as producing fresh drinking water, biodiversity protection, and provision of scenic beauty).

Foreign relations



Costa Rica is an active member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and the Organization of American States
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is an autonomous judicial institution based in the city of San José, Costa Rica. Together with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, it makes up the human rights protection system of the Organization of American States , which serves to uphold and...

 and the United Nations University of Peace are based in Costa Rica. It is also a member of many other international organizations related to human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 and democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

.

A main foreign policy
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 objective of Costa Rica is to foster human rights and sustainable development as a way to secure stability and growth.

Costa Rica is a member of the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

, without a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the United States military (as covered under Article 98
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court . It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on 17 July 1998 and it entered into force on 1 July 2002. As of 13 October 2011, 119 states are party to the statute...

).

On 10 September 1961, some months after Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 declared Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 a socialist state, Costa Rican President Mario Echandi ended diplomatic relations with Cuba through Executive Decree Number 2. This freeze lasted for 47 years until President Óscar Arias Sánchez
Óscar Arias
Óscar Arias Sánchez is a Costa Rican politician who was President of Costa Rica from 2006 to 2010. He previously served as President from 1986 to 1990 and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end civil wars then raging in several other Central American countries.He is also a...

 announced on 18 March 2009 that normal relations were to be re-established, saying, "If we have been able to turn the page with regimes as profoundly different to our reality as occurred with the USSR or, more recently, with the Republic of China, how would we not do it with a country that is geographically and culturally much nearer to Costa Rica?" Arias also announced both countries would exchange ambassadors.

Costa Rica also has a long-term disagreement with Nicaragua over the San Juan River
Costa Rica – Nicaragua San Juan River border dispute
The Nicaragua–Costa Rica San Juan River border dispute is a series of periodical conflicts between the two Central American nations over the correct delimitation of their common border at its east-end, and the interpretation of the navigation rights on the San Juan River established in the...

, which defines the border between the two countries. This disagreement arises regarding Costa Rica's rights of navigation on the river. In 2010, there was also a dispute around Isla Calero, and the impact of Nicaraguan dredging of the river in that area.

On July 14, 2009, the Hague(ICJ) court upheld the rights Costa Ricans had to navigate for commercial purposes to subsistence fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

 on their side of the river. An 1858 treaty extended navigation rights to Costa Rica, but Nicaragua denied passenger travel and fishing were part of the deal; the court ruled Costa Ricans on the river were not required to have Nicaraguan tourist cards or visas as Nicaragua alleged, but, in a nod to the Nicaraguans, ruled Costa Rican boats and passengers must stop at the first and last Nicaraguan port along their route. They must also have an identity document or passport. Nicaragua can also impose timetables on Costa Rican traffic. Nicaragua may require Costa Rican boats to display the flag of Nicaragua, but may not charge them for departure clearance from its ports. These were all specific items of contention brought to the court in the 2005 filing.

On June 1, 2007, Costa Rica broke diplomatic ties with the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 in Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, switching recognition to the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

. Costa Rica was the first of the Central American nations to do so. President Óscar Arias Sánchez admitted the action was a response to economic exigency. In appreciation, the PRC built Costa Rica a new, $100 million, state-of-the-art football stadium in Parque la Sabana, in the province of San José. Approximately 600 Chinese engineers and laborers took part in this project, and it was inaugurated in March 2011, with a match between the Costa Rica
Costa Rica national football team
The Costa Rica national football team, nicknamed La Sele, is the national team of Costa Rica and is controlled by the Federación Costarricense de Fútbol. Costa Rica is the third most successful team in CONCACAF after Mexico and the United States...

 and China
China national football team
The China PR national football team is the national association football team of the People's Republic of China and is governed by the Chinese Football Association...

 national teams.

Costa Rica finished a term on the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

, having been elected for a nonrenewable, two-year term in the 2007 election
United Nations Security Council election, 2007
The 2007 United Nations Security Council election was held on 16 October 2007 during the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, held at UN Headquarters in New York City...

. Its term expired on 31 December 2009; this was Costa Rica's third time on the Security Council.

Flora and fauna





Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plant
Plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

s and animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

s. While the country has only about 0.25% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

. Around 25% of the country's land area is in protected national parks and protected area
Protected area
Protected areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognised natural, ecological and/or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the enabling laws of each country or the regulations of the international...

s, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world (developing world average 13%, developed world average 8%). Costa Rica has successfully managed to diminish deforestation
Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

 from some of the worst rates in the world from 1973 to 1989, to almost zero by 2005.

One national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

, the Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is a National Park on the Osa Peninsula in the South West of Costa Rica , which is part of the Osa Conservation Area. It was established on 24 October 1975, and encompasses an area of 425 km² . It is widely considered the crown jewel in the extensive system of national...

, is internationally renowned among ecologists
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

 for its biodiversity (including big cats and tapirs) and is where visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife
Wildlife
Wildlife includes all non-domesticated plants, animals and other organisms. Domesticating wild plant and animal species for human benefit has occurred many times all over the planet, and has a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative....

. Corcovado is the one park in Costa Rica where all four Costa Rican monkey species can be found. These include the white-headed capuchin
White-headed Capuchin
The white-headed capuchin , also known as the white-faced capuchin or white-throated capuchin, is a medium-sized New World monkey of the family Cebidae, subfamily Cebinae...

, the mantled howler
Mantled Howler
The mantled howler , or golden-mantled howling monkey, is a species of howler monkey, a type of New World monkey, from Central and South America. It is one of the monkey species most often seen and heard in the wild in Central America...

,the endangered Geoffroy's spider monkey
Geoffroy's Spider Monkey
Geoffroy's spider monkey, Ateles geoffroyi, also known as black-handed spider monkey, is a species of spider monkey, a type of New World monkey, from Central America, parts of Mexico and possibly a small portion of Colombia. There are at least five subspecies. Some primatologists classify the...

 and the Central American squirrel monkey
Central American Squirrel Monkey
The Central American squirrel monkey is a squirrel monkey species from the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and Panama. It is restricted to the northwestern tip of Panama near the border with Costa Rica, and the central and southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, primarily in Manuel Antonio and Corcovado...

, found only on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and a small part of Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

, and considered endangered until 2008, when its status was upgraded to vulnerable. Deforestation, illegal pet-trading, and hunting are the main reasons for its threatened status.
Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park is a National Park within the Tortuguero Conservation Area. The reserve is also included in the Humedal Caribe Noreste, a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The park is located in the Limón Province of northeastern Costa Rica...

—the name Tortuguero can be translated as "Full of Turtles"—is home to spider, howler and white-throated capuchin monkeys; the three-toed sloth
Three-toed sloth
The three-toed sloths are tree-living mammals from South and Central America. They are the only members of the genus Bradypus and the family Bradypodidae. There are four living species of three-toed sloths...

 and two-toed sloth
Two-toed sloth
Choloepus is a genus of mammals of Central and South America, within the family Megalonychidae consisting of two-toed sloths. There are only two species of Choloepus : Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth and Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth...

; 320 species of bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s; and a variety of reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s. The park is recognized for the annual nesting of the endangered green turtle, and is the most important nesting site for the species. Giant leatherback, hawksbill
Hawksbill turtle
The hawksbill sea turtle is a critically endangered sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae. It is the only extant species in its genus. The species has a worldwide distribution, with Atlantic and Pacific subspecies. E. imbricata imbricata is the Atlantic subspecies, while E...

, and loggerhead
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
The loggerhead sea turtle , or loggerhead, is an oceanic turtle distributed throughout the world. It is a marine reptile, belonging to the family Cheloniidae. The average loggerhead measures around long when fully grown, although larger specimens of up to have been discovered...

 turtles also nest there.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is home to about 2,000 plant species, including numerous orchids. Over 400 types of birds and over 100 species of mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s can be found there.

As a whole, around 700 species of birds have been identified in Costa Rica. The Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad
Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad
The Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad is the national institute for biodiversity and conservation in Costa Rica. Created at the end of the 1980s, and despite having national status, it is a privately-run institution that works closely with various government agencies, universities, business...

 is allowed to collect royalties on any biological discoveries of medical importance.

Costa Rica is a center of biological diversity for reptiles and amphibians, including the world's fastest running lizard, the spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura similis
Ctenosaura similis
The Black Spiny-tailed Iguana, Black Iguana, or Black Ctenosaur is a lizard native to Mexico and Central America that has been introduced to the United States in the state of Florida...

).

Demographics


As of 2010, Costa Rica has an estimated population of 4,640,000. Whites and mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

s make up 94% of the population, whites being 80% and mestizos 14%, while 3% are Black, or Afro-Caribbean
Afro-Costa Rican
Afro-Costa Ricans are Costa Ricans of recent African ancestry; they have had a great impact on Costa Rican culture. Concentrated in Limón Province, Afro-Costa Ricans the descendants of Jamaican and other British West Indians who immigrated in the nineteenth century for work on the Atlantic...

, 1% Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

, 1% Chinese
Chinese-Costa Rican
Chinese people in Costa Rica form a small part of the Chinese diaspora in Latin America.-History:The first Chinese migrants arrived in Costa Rica in 1855; they were a group of 77 originally from Guangzhou, who had come to Central America to work on the Panama Railway...

, and 1% other.

There are also over 60,000 Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 or indigenous inhabitants, representing 1.5% of the population. Most of them live in secluded reservations, distributed among eight ethnic groups: Quitirrisí (in the Central Valley), Matambú or Chorotega
Chorotega
Chorotega, also known as Mangue, was a language indigenous people of Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The ethnic population number around 10,000. The Chorotega language, which was a member of the Manguean branch of the Oto-Manguean language family, is now extinct...

 (Guanacaste), Maleku (northern Alajuela), Bribri (southern Atlantic), Cabécar (Cordillera de Talamanca), Guaymí
Guaymí
The Guaymí or Ngäbe are an indigenous group living mainly within the Ngäbe-Buglé comarca in the Western Panamanian provinces of Veraguas, Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro, as well as in the indigenous town of Conte, Costa Rica near the extreme southern tip of the country...

 (southern Costa Rica, along the Panamá border), Boruca (southern Costa Rica) and Térraba (southern Costa Rica).

The population of European ancestry is primarily of Spaniard
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 descent, with significant numbers of Italian, German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

, English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

, Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

, French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

, Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

, Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

, Lebanese
Lebanese people
The Lebanese people are a nation and ethnic group of Levantine people originating in what is today the country of Lebanon, including those who had inhabited Mount Lebanon prior to the creation of the modern Lebanese state....

 and Polish families, as well a sizable Jewish community. The majority of the Afro-Costa Ricans are Creole English-speaking descendants of 19th century black Jamaican immigrant workers.

The 2000 census classified 94% of the population as white
White
White is a color, the perception of which is evoked by light that stimulates all three types of color sensitive cone cells in the human eye in nearly equal amounts and with high brightness compared to the surroundings. A white visual stimulation will be void of hue and grayness.White light can be...

 or mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

 and less than 3% as black
Black
Black is the color of objects that do not emit or reflect light in any part of the visible spectrum; they absorb all such frequencies of light...

 or Amerindian. Native and European mixed blood populations are far less than in other Latin American countries. Exceptions are Guanacaste
Guanacaste Province
Guanacaste is a province of Costa Rica located in the northwestern part of the country, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. To the north it borders Nicaragua. To the east is the Alajuela Province, and to the southeast is the Puntarenas Province. It is the most sparsely populated of all the...

, where almost half the population is visibly mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

, a legacy of the more pervasive unions between Spaniards
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 colonists and Chorotega
Chorotega
Chorotega, also known as Mangue, was a language indigenous people of Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The ethnic population number around 10,000. The Chorotega language, which was a member of the Manguean branch of the Oto-Manguean language family, is now extinct...

 Amerindians through several generations, and Limón
Limón
Puerto Limón, commonly known as Limón , is the capital city and main hub of Limón province, as well as of the cantón of Limón in Costa Rica. It has a population of about 60,000 , and is home to a thriving Afro-Caribbean community...

, where the vast majority of the Afro-Costa Rican community lives.

Costa Rica hosts many refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s, mainly from Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 and Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

. As a result of that and illegal immigration
Illegal immigration
Illegal immigration is the migration into a nation in violation of the immigration laws of that jurisdiction. Illegal immigration raises many political, economical and social issues and has become a source of major controversy in developed countries and the more successful developing countries.In...

, an estimated 10–15% (400,000–600,000) of the Costa Rican population is made up of Nicaraguans. Some Nicaraguans migrate
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

 for seasonal work opportunities and then return to their country. Costa Rica took in many refugees from a range of other Latin American countries fleeing civil wars and dictatorships during the 1970s and 80s, notably from Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 and Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, as well as people from El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

 who fled from guerrillas and government death squad
Death squad
A death squad is an armed military, police, insurgent, or terrorist squad that conducts extrajudicial killings, assassinations, and forced disappearances of persons as part of a war, insurgency or terror campaign...

s.

According to the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, in 2010 about 489,200 immigrants lived in the country, mainly from Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize, while 125,3060 Costa Ricans live abroad in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

, Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, and Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

.

Health


The World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 estimates the life expectancy at birth for Costa Ricans in 2008 is 79 years, a figure unchanged since 2005. The Nicoya Peninsula
Nicoya Peninsula
The Nicoya Peninsula is a peninsula on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and lies in the Guanacaste Province in the north, and the Puntarenas Province in the south. It is located at . It varies from 19 to wide and is approximately long, and forms the largest peninsula in the country. It is known...

 is considered one of the Blue Zone
Blue Zone
A Blue Zone is a region of the world where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100 years. Scientists and demographers have classified these longevity hot-spots by having common healthy traits and life practices that result in higher-than-normal longevity.The name Blue Zone seems to...

s in the world, where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100 years.

In 2002, there were 0.58 new general practitioner consultations and 0.33 new specialist consultations per capita, and a hospital admission rate of 8.1%. Preventive health care is also successful. In 2002, 96% of Costa Rican women used some form of contraception, and antenatal care services were provided to 87% of all pregnant women. All children under one have access to well-baby clinics, and the immunization coverage rate in 2002 was above 91% for all antigens. Costa Rica has a very low malaria incidence of 48 per 100,000 in 2000 and no reported cases of measles in 2002. The perinatal mortality rate dropped from 12.0 per 1000 in 1972 to 5.4 per 1000 in 2001.

Costa Rica has been cited in various journals as Central America's great health success story. Its healthcare system is ranked higher than that of the United States, despite having a fraction of its GDP. Prior to 1940, government hospitals and charities provided most health care delivery. But since the 1941 creation of the Social Security Administration (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social – CCSS), Costa Rica has provided universal health care to its wage-earning residents, with coverage extended to dependants over time. In 1973, the CCSS took over administration of all 29 of the country's public hospitals and all health care, also launching a Rural Health Program (Programa de Salud Rural) for primary care to rural areas, later extended to primary care services nationwide. In 1993, laws were passed to enable elected health boards that represented health consumers, social security representatives, employers, and social organizations. By the year 2000, social health insurance coverage was available to 82% of the Costa Rican population. Each health committee manages an area equivalent to one of the 83 administrative cantons of Costa Rica. There is limited use of private, for-profit services (around 14.4% of the national total health expenditure). About 7 % of GDP is allocated to the health sector, and over 70% is government funded. There are some threats to the universal health care model.

Primary health care facilities in Costa Rica include health clinics, with a general practitioner, nurse, clerk, pharmacist and a primary health technician. In 2008, there were five specialty national hospitals, three general national hospitals, seven regional hospitals, 13 peripheral hospitals, and 10 major clinics serving as referral centers for primary care clinics, which also deliver biopsychosocial services, family and community medical services and promotion and prevention programs. Patients can choose private health care to avoid waiting lists.

Costa Rica is among the Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 countries that have became popular destinations for medical tourism
Medical tourism
Medical tourism is a term initially coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly-growing practice of travelling across international borders to obtain health care...

. In 2006, Costa Rica received 150,000 foreigners that came for medical treatment. Costa Rica is particularly attractive to American tourists because of its proximity and short flight, the quality of medical services, and lower medical costs.

Religion



Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 is the predominant religion, and Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 is the official state religion
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

 according to the 1949 Constitution, which at the same time guarantees freedom of religion.

According to the most recent nationwide survey of religion, conducted in 2007 by the University of Costa Rica, 70.5% of Costa Ricans are Roman Catholics, 44.9% of the population are practicing Catholics, 13.8% are Evangelical Protestants
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

, 11.3% report they do not have a religion, and 4.3% belonged to another.

Because of the recent small but continuous immigration from Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, other religions have grown, the most popular being Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 (because of a growing Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 community of 40,000), and smaller numbers of Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

, Jewish, Bahá’í, and Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 adherents.

The Sinagoga Shaarei Zion synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

  is near La Sabana Metropolitan Park
La Sabana Metropolitan Park
La Sabana Metropolitan Park , located in downtown San José, Costa Rica, is the country's biggest and most important urban park. Covering an area of 0.72 km², the park is adjacent to the city's core districts, offering green space and recreation to its residents. Several important institutions...

 in San José
San José, Costa Rica
San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica. Located in the Central Valley, San José is the seat of national government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and the major transportation hub of this Central American nation.Founded in 1738 by order of Cabildo de León, San...

. Several homes in the neighborhood east of the park display the Star of David
Star of David
The Star of David, known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David is a generally recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism.Its shape is that of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles...

 and other Jewish symbols.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) claim more than 35,000 members, and has a temple in San Jose
San José Costa Rica Temple
The San José Costa Rica Temple is the 87th operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made an announcement on March 17, 1999 that a temple would be built in San José, Costa Rica...

 that served as a regional worship center for Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, and Honduras. However, they represent less than one percent of the population.

Languages



The primary language spoken in Costa Rica is Spanish
Costa Rican Spanish
Costa Rican Spanish is the form of Spanish language spoken in Costa Rica.-Phonetics:The unique or distinguishing characteristics of Costa Rican phonetics include the following:...

. Some native languages are still spoken in indigenous reservations. The most numerically important are the Bribri
Bribri language
The Bribri language is a tonal SOV language spoken by the Bribri people from Costa Rica. It belongs to the Chibchan language family and there are about 11,000 speakers.-External links:* * * *...

, Maléku
Maléku language
The Maléku Jaíka language, also called Guatuso, is an indigenous language of north central Costa Rica. It is a Chibchan language spoken by around 750 indigenous Maléku people.- Sample Vocabulary :...

, Cabécar
Cabécar language
The Cabécar language is an indigenous American language of the Chibchan language family which is spoken in Costa Rica. Specifically, it is spoken in the inland Turrialba Region of the Cartago Province. According to Ethnologue there were only 8,840 Cabécar speakers in 2000 with 80% of these...

 and Ngäbere languages, some of which have several thousand speakers in Costa Rica – others a few hundred. Some languages, such as Teribe
Teribe language
Teribe is a language spoken by the Naso or Teribe Indians; it is used primarily in the Bocas del Toro Province of northwestern Panama and in the southern part of Costa Rica's Puntarenas Province, but is almost extinct in the latter. It is part of the Chibchan language family, in the Talamanca...

 and Boruca
Boruca language
The Boruca language is the native language of the Boruca people of Costa Rica. It is one of the Chibchan languages. It is nearly extinct; it was spoken fluently by only five women in 1986, while 30 to 35 others spoke it nonfluently. The rest of the tribe's 1,000 members speak Spanish...

, have fewer than a thousand speakers. A Creole-English language, Jamaican patois (also known as Mekatelyu), is spoken along the Caribbean coast. About 10.7% of Costa Rica's adult population (18 or older) also speaks English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, 0.7% French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, and 0.3% speaks Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 or German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 as a second language.

Culture



Costa Rica was the point where the Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

n and South American native cultures met. The northwest of the country, the Nicoya peninsula, was the southernmost point of Nahuatl
Nahuatl
Nahuatl is thought to mean "a good, clear sound" This language name has several spellings, among them náhuatl , Naoatl, Nauatl, Nahuatl, Nawatl. In a back formation from the name of the language, the ethnic group of Nahuatl speakers are called Nahua...

 cultural influence when the Spanish conquerors (conquistadores) came in the 16th century. The central and southern portions of the country had Chibcha influences. The Atlantic coast, meanwhile, was populated with African workers during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Costa Rican cuisine is a blend of Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

, Spanish, African and many other cuisine origins. Dishes such as the very traditional tamale and many others made of corn
Corn
Corn is the name used in the United States, Canada, and Australia for the grain maize.In much of the English-speaking world, the term "corn" is a generic term for cereal crops, such as* Barley* Oats* Wheat* Rye- Places :...

 are the most representative of its indigenous inhabitants, and similar to other neighboring Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

n countries. Spaniards brought many new ingredients to the country from other lands, especially spices and domestic animals. And later in the 19th century, the African flavor lent its presence with influence from other Caribbean mixed flavors. This is how Costa Rican cuisine today is very varied, with every new ethnic group who had recently become part of the country's population influencing the country's cuisine.

As a result of the immigration of Spaniards, their 16th century Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 culture and its evolution marked everyday life and culture until today, with Spanish language
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 and the Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 religion as primary influences.

The Department of Culture, Youth, and Sports is in charge of the promotion and coordination of cultural life. The work of the department is divided into Direction of Culture, Visual Arts, Scenic Arts, Music, Patrimony and the System of Libraries. Although the department creates many initiatives, they are constrained by lack of resources. Permanent programs, such as the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica and the Youth Symphony Orchestra, are conjunctions of two areas of work: Culture and Youth.

Dance-oriented genres, such as soca
Soca music
Soca is a style of music from Trinidad and Tobago. Soca is a musical development of traditional Trinidadian calypso, through loans from the 1960s onwards from predominantly black popular music....

, salsa
Salsa music
Salsa music is a genre of music, generally defined as a modern style of playing Cuban Son, Son Montuno, and Guaracha with touches from other genres of music...

, bachata, merengue
Merengue music
Merengue is a type of music and dance from the Dominican Republic. It is popular in the Dominican Republic and all over Latin America. Its name is Spanish, taken from the name of the meringue, a dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar...

, cumbia
Cumbia
Cumbia is a music genre popular across Latin America. The cumbia originated in the Caribbean coast of Colombia, where it is associated with an eponymous dance and has since spread as far as Mexico and Argentina...

 and Costa Rican swing are enjoyed increasingly by older rather than younger people. The guitar is popular, especially as an accompaniment to folk dances; however, the marimba was made the national instrument.

"Pura Vida" is the most recognizable phrase attached to Costa Ricans, and it reflects the Costa Rican way of life. Often, people walking down the streets, or buying food at shops say hello by saying "Pura Vida", which means pure life, or good life. It can be phrased as a question or as an acknowledgement of one's presence. A recommended response to "How are you?" would be "Pura Vida".

Education


The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 94.9%, one of the highest in the world. When the army was abolished in 1949, it was said that the "army would be replaced with an army of teachers." Elementary
Elementary school
An elementary school or primary school is an institution where children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as elementary or primary education. Elementary school is the preferred term in some countries, particularly those in North America, where the terms grade school and grammar...

 and high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

s are found throughout the country in practically every community. Universal public education
Public education
State schools, also known in the United States and Canada as public schools,In much of the Commonwealth, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, the terms 'public education', 'public school' and 'independent school' are used for private schools, that is, schools...

 is guaranteed in the constitution. Primary education is obligatory, and both preschool and high school are free. There are only a few schools in Costa Rica that go beyond the 12th grade. Students who finish 11th grade receive a Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education.

There are both state and private universities, with the public universities being regarded as the best in the country, as well as being one of the best means of social mobility, given the large proportion of the budget spent to subsidize students from poor families. The University of Costa Rica has been awarded the title "Meritorious Institution of Costa Rican Education and Culture". In recent years, many private universities and colleges have consolidated because demand for higher education exceeds places available in the public sector.

See also



  • List of soccer clubs in Costa Rica
  • Public Finances in Costa Rica
    Public Finances in Costa Rica
    The pattern of public expenditure and revenue in Costa Rica is typical of a middle income country. According the CIA World Factbook, in 2008, central government revenue was US $4,604 million, approximately 15% of GDP. Meanwhile expenditure was $4,552 million, producing a small overall surplus of...



Further reading


  • Edelman, Marc. Peasants Against Globalization: Rural Social Movements in Costa Rica Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.
  • Sebastian Huhn: Contested Cornerstones of Nonviolent National Self-Perception in Costa Rica: A Historical Approach, 2009.
  • Lara, Sylvia Lara, Tom Barry, and Peter Simonson. Inside Costa Rica: The Essential Guide to Its Politics, Economy, Society and Environment London: Latin America Bureau, 1995.
  • Lehoucq, Fabrice E. and Ivan Molina. Stuffing the Ballot Box: Fraud, Electoral Reform, and Democratization in Costa Rica Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Lehoucq, Fabrice E. Policymaking, Parties, and Institutions in Democratic Costa Rica, 2006.
  • Palmer, Steven and Iván Molina. The Costa Rica Reader: History, Culture, Politics Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2004.
  • Sandoval, Carlos. Threatening Others: Nicaraguans and the Formation of National Identities in Costa Rica Athens: Ohio University Press, 2004.
  • Wilson, Bruce M. Costa Rica: Politics, Economics, and Democracy: Politics, Economics and Democracy. Boulder, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998.
  • Blake, Beatrice. "The New Key to Costa Rica" Berkeley, California: Ulysses Press, 2009.


External links



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