Located in Central America, Costa Rica lies in between both Nicaragua, to the north, and Panama, to the south. Originally explored by the Spanish in the 16th century, initial attempts to colonize the land were unsuccessful as a number of factors including diseases in mosquito infested swamps, native raids on settlers, brutal heat and constant pirate raids. It was not until 1563 that a permanent settlement of Cartago was established in the cooler, fertile central highlands. The area remained a colony for some two and a half centuries, until in 1821, Costa Rica, jointly became, one several Central American provinces to gain independence from Spain. Two years later it joined the United Provinces of Central America but this federation collapsed in 1838, at which time Costa Rica claimed its independence from the rest of the states. Since the 19th century only two violent incidents have stalled the countries economic and democratic development. Although the main industry is still primarily the agriculture industry, the technology and tourism industry has grown significantly, and is still growing further.
Whenever you travel to a new country it can be daunting and because of this it is often important to have some background information on your destination. Because of this we have provided a general outline of Costa Rica below. Please be advised that information contained in this page is subject to change without prior warning or knowledge, and as such you should consult an expert for the most accurate details.
Official Name: Republic of Costa Rica
Capital: San Jose
Location: Located in Central America, south of Nicaragua, and north of Panama.
Size: Costa Rica is 51,100 sq km in total, including both land and water, comparatively, slightly bigger than Slovakia.
Climate: Tropical and sub-tropical dry seasons, and rainy hot and humid wet seasons.
Population: Costa Rica has a population of 4.1 million people, slightly more than that of New Zealand.
Life expectancy at birth: The life expectancy of a Costa Rican citizen at birth is 77.4 years.
Major illnesses: There are two major food and water borne diseases that pre exist in Costa Rica, they are bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A. The only major vectorborne disease at current is dengue fever.
Ethnicities: white 94%, black 3%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1%, other 1%
Languages: Spanish (official), English
Religion: Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%
Government: Costa Rica is a democratic republic in which a prime minister and president are elected by the people.
Head of State: The current president is Oscar Arias.
Economy : Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Exports have become more diversified in the past 10 years due to the growth of the high-tech manufacturing sector which is dominated by the microprocessor industry, mainly lead by openings of Intel factories. Tourism continues to bring in foreign investment. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and high education levels, as well as the fiscal incentives offered in the free-trade zones. Costa Rica has attracted the second largest amount of foreign direct investment in Latin America. Poverty has remained around 20% for nearly 20 years, and the strong social safety net that had been put into place by the government has eroded due to increased financial constraints on government expenditures. The government continues to grapple with its large internal and external deficits and sizable internal debt. Reducing inflation remains a difficult problem because of rising import prices, labor market rigidities, and fiscal deficits, though lower oil prices will decrease upward pressures. The Central Bank is moving towards a more flexible exchange rate system to focus on inflation targeting by 2010. The US-Central American Free Trade Agreement entered into force in January 2009, after significant delays within the Costa Rican legislature. Nevertheless, economic growth will slow in 2009 as the global slowdown reduces export demand and investment inflows.
GDP: Costa Rica has a GDP purchasing power parity of $49.73 billion USD.