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Location: Middle America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama

Geographic coordinates: 10 00 N, 84 00 W

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

total: 51,100 sq km
land: 50,660 sq km
water: 440 sq km
note: includes Isla del Coco

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than West Virginia

Land boundaries:
total: 639 km
border countries: Nicaragua 309 km, Panama 330 km

Coastline: 1,290 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November)

Terrain: coastal plains separated by rugged mountains

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m

Natural resources: hydropower potential

Land use:
arable land: 6%
permanent crops: 5%
permanent pastures: 46%
forests and woodland: 31%
other: 12% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 1,200 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season; active volcanoes

Environment—current issues: deforestation, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching; soil erosion

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation


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Population: 3,604,642 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 34% (male 620,496; female 591,299)
15-64 years: 61% (male 1,120,118; female 1,093,099)
65 years and over: 5% (male 82,893; female 96,737) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.95% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 22.89 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 4.15 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.72 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 13.1 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.93 years
male: 73.5 years
female: 78.48 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.81 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Costa Rican(s)
adjective: Costa Rican

Ethnic groups: white (including mestizo) 96%, black 2%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1%

Religions: Roman Catholic 95%

Languages: Spanish (official), English spoken around Puerto Limon

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.8%
male: 94.7%
female: 95% (1995 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Costa Rica
conventional short form: Costa Rica
local long form: Republica de Costa Rica
local short form: Costa Rica

Data code: CS

Government type: democratic republic

National capital: San Jose

Administrative divisions: 7 provinces (provincias, singular—provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose

Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution: 9 November 1949

Legal system: based on Spanish civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Miguel Angel RODRIGEUZ (since 8 May 1998); First Vice President Astrid FISCHEL (since 8 May 1998), Second Vice President Elizabeth ODIO (since 8 May 1998); note—president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ (since 8 May 1998); First Vice President Astrid FISCHEL (since 8 May 1998), Second Vice President Elizabeth ODIO (since 8 May 1998); note—president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president
elections: president and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held 1 February 1998 (next to be held NA February 2002)
election results: Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ elected president; percent of vote—Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ (PUSC) 46.6%, Jose Miguel CORRALES (PLN) 44.6%

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (57 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 1 February 1998 (next to be held NA February 2002)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—PUSC 27, PLN 23, minority parties 7

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Corte Suprema), justices are elected for eight-year terms by the Legislative Assembly

Political parties and leaders: Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ Echeverria]; National Liberation Party or PLN [Jose Miguel CORRALES Bolanos]; National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes]; National Independent Party or PNI [Jorge GONZALEZ Marten]; People United Party or PPU [Norma VARGAS Duarte]; National Christian Alliance Party or ANC [Alejandro MADRIGAL Benavides]; Democratic Force Party or PFD [Vladimir DE LA CRUZ de Lemos]; Libertarian Movement Party or PML [Federico MALAVASI Calvo]; Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Sherman Thomas JACKSON]; New Democratic Party or PDN [Rodrigo GUTIERREZ Schwanhauser]; National Rescue Party or PRN [Marina VOLIO Brenes]; Democratic Party or PD [Alvaro GONZALEZ Espinoza]; Independent Party or PI [Yolanda GUTIERREZ Ventura]
note: mainly a two-party system—PUSC and PLN; small parties share only 5% of population's support

Political pressure groups and leaders: Costa Rican Confederation of Democratic Workers or CCTD (Liberation Party affiliate); Confederated Union of Workers or CUT (Communist Party affiliate); Authentic Confederation of Democratic Workers or CATD (Communist Party affiliate); Chamber of Coffee Growers; National Association for Economic Development or ANFE; Free Costa Rica Movement or MCRL (rightwing militants); National Association of Educators or ANDE; Federation of Public Service Workers or FTSP

International organization participation: AG (observer), BCIE, CACM, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Jose THOMPSON
chancery: 2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 234-2945
FAX: [1] (202) 265-4795
consulate(s) general: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, Durham, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), and Tampa
consulate(s): Austin

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas J. DODD
embassy: Pavas Road, San Jose
mailing address: APO AA 34020
telephone: [506] 220-3939
FAX: [506] 220-2305

Flag description: five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white disk on the hoist side of the red band


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Economy—overview: Costa Rica's basically stable and progressive economy depends especially on tourism and the export of bananas, coffee, and other agricultural products. Poverty has been substantially reduced over the past 15 years, and a strong social safety net has been put in place. Recent trends, however, have been disappointing. Economic growth slipped from 4.3% in 1994 to 2.5% in 1995, and to 0.9% in 1996, and then rebounded in 1997 to 3%. Inflation rose to 22.5% in 1995 from 13.5% in 1994, receded to 17.5% in 1996, then dropped to 11.2% in 1997. Unemployment appears moderate at 5.7%, but substantial underemployment continues. Furthermore, substantial government deficits have undermined efforts to maintain the quality of social services. The government thus faces a formidable set of problems: to curb inflation, reduce the deficit, encourage domestic savings, and improve public sector efficiency while increasing the role of the private sector, all this in harmony with IMF agreements. One important positive development—the infusion of more than $200 million in 1997 by microchip giant Intel and the anticipated attraction of other high-tech firms to Costa Rica will help stimulate growth and employment over the next several years.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$19.6 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 3% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$5,500 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 18%
industry: 24%
services: 58% (1995)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 11.2% (1997 est.)

Labor force:
total: 868,300
by occupation: industry and commerce 35.1%, government and services 33%, agriculture 27%, other 4.9% (1985 est.)

Unemployment rate: 5.7% (1997 est.); much underemployment

revenues: $1.1 billion
expenditures: $1.34 billion, including capital expenditures of $110 million (1991 est.)

Industries: food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products

Industrial production growth rate: 10.5% (1992)

Electricity—capacity: 1.094 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 4.53 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 1,323 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: coffee, bananas, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef; timber (depletion of forest resources has resulted in declining timber output)

total value: $2.9 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: coffee, bananas, textiles, sugar
partners: US, Germany, Italy, Guatemala, El Salvador, Netherlands, UK, France

total value: $3.4 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
commodities: raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum
partners: US, Japan, Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Germany

Debt—external: $3.2 billion (October 1996 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 Costa Rican colon (C) = 100 centimos

Exchange rates: Costa Rican colones (C) per US$1—243.55 (December 1997), 232.60 (1997), 207.69 (1996), 179.73 (1995), 157.07 (1994), 142.17 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 281,042 (1983 est.)

Telephone system: very good domestic telephone service
domestic: NA
international: connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 71, FM 0, shortwave 13

Radios: NA

Television broadcast stations: 18

Televisions: 340,000 (1993 est.)


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total: 950 km
narrow gauge: 950 km 1.067-m gauge (260 km electrified)
note: the entire system was shut down in June 1995 because of insolvency; most of system maintained in good order to facilitate transfer in 1997 to private sector concessionaires

total: 35,597 km
paved: 6,051 km
unpaved: 29,546 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: about 730 km, seasonally navigable

Pipelines: petroleum products 176 km

Ports and harbors: Caldera, Golfito, Moin, Puerto Limon, Puerto Quepos, Puntarenas

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 158 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 27
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 18
under 914 m: 6 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 131
914 to 1,523 m: 31
under 914 m: 100 (1997 est.)




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