Republic of Costa Rica

Physical Geography:

Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua (309km) and Panama (330km)
Latitude: 10 00 N

Longitude: 84 00 W

Costa Rica’s total area is 51,100 sq km. The total land area is 50,660 sq km and the water is 440 sq km and this includes Isla del Coco.

Costa Rica’s climate can be described as tropical and subtropical. The dry season is from December to April; Rainy season is May to November. It also is cooler in the highlands
The Terrain in Costa Rica is rugged and the central range separates the eastern and western coastal plains.

Natural Disasters
A few of the natural disasters that occur in Costa Rica are the occasional earthquake and hurricanes along Atlantic coast. Also due to the rain during the rainy season frequent flooding of lowlands occurs along with landslides. Costa Rica also has a number of active volcanoes, one of which, Irazu, erupted destructively in 1963-65

Current Enviromental Issues
Currently some of the environmental issues in Costa Rica are deforestation and land use change, which is in most part a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching and agriculture. Some other issues are soil erosion, coastal marine pollution, solid waste management and air pollution

Natural Resources
Costa Rica’s natural resources include hydroelectric power, forest products and fisheries products.


The country's population was estimated at 4,398,800 in 2006.. It is growing at a rate of 1.69 percent, which means that the population should reach approximately 4.1 million by 2010 and should double to over 7 million by the year 2035.Over 60 percent of the population is between the ages of 15 and 64, and only 5 percent of citizens are over 65 years old. The population is young, posing a challenge for the government to provide adequate schooling and training for the younger population. About 95 percent of the population can read and write. The Costa Rican population also increases due to immigration —particularly from Nicaragua and other Central American countries. Immigrants come to Costa Rica in search of work opportunities, which they usually find in the agricultural sector. They are attracted by the relatively higher standards of living that are enjoyed in the country. The immigration rate for 2000 was estimated at 0.54 immigrants per 1,000 citizens. Costa Rica's immigration is among the largest in the Caribbean Basin. Immigrants represent about 10.2% of the population.

The population of Costa Rica is mainly white (94 %, including mixed European and Amerindian mestizos) and Roman Catholic (85 %). There is a small proportion of black (3 %), Amerindian (1 %), and Chinese (1 %) residents, and the second most important religious group is Evangelical Protestant (14 %). The popultion density is
89.6 hab/s q km and is mostly located around the outer coast and the capital of San Jose.


The migration patterns to other countries increases annually:

People Traveling to Other Countries

  1. of People *
  • Costa Rican Citizens and Costa Rican Legal Permanent Residents.
Source: Costa Rican Tourist Board (ICT)

Some major cities include: Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Liberia, Limón, Puntarenas, San José (capital, major metropolitan area.)

Politics and Government:

Capital of Costa Rica- San Jose

Costa Rica is a democratic republic with an elected president and two vice presidents who are appointed by the president.¹ Costa Rican independance from Spain was delared on September 15, 1821 but was not recognized by Spain until May 10, 1850.²

President Oscar Arias (1986-1990, 2006-present) is a Nobel Peace Prize winner (1987) for his efforts to end guerrilla wars in other Central American countries.² He earned a Ph.D in political science at the University of Essex in England.² During his first term as president, Arias worked to bring economic stability to Costa Rica and won the Nobel Peace Prize as mentioned above.²

Costa Rica is a member of the United Nations (UN) and the Oganization of American States (OAS) which strives to strengthen peace, independence, and promote democracy within the Americas.³ The United Nations University of Peace is based in Costa Rica and is aimed at providing "...humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace [and to promote] the spirit of understanding, tolerance ²and peacful coexistance".⁴ The Inter-American Court of
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias
Human Rights is also based in Costa Rica and makes up the human rights protection portion of the OAS to uphold basic human rights and freedoms in the Americas.⁵

One of Costa Rica's main foreign policy objectives is to encourage human rights and sustainable development.⁶ Costa Rica has recently served a third term on the United Nations Security Council which maintains international peace and security.⁶

Major Political parties:²

National Liberation Party (PLN)- social democracy; founded in 1951 after Costa Rican civil war ened; leader is current president Oscar Arias
Citizen's Action Party (PAC)- reformist; founded by Otton Solis (former PLN member) in 2000;
Libertarian Movement Party (PML)- libertarian; founded in 1994
Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC)- Christian democratic; less polular after much corruption

Health and Education:

School in Costa Rica
School in Costa Rica
Major health services are located in the major urban centers.¹ Costa Rica's refugee problem is straining urban services however, there are sanitation facilities and pharmacies available to the poor.¹ As of 1999, HIV prevalence in Costa Rica was 0.54 per 100 adults compared to 0.30 per 100 adults in Canada and 0.6 per 100 adults in the United States.¹ ² ³ Hospital beds and physicians in Costa Rica are estimated at 1.7 and 0.9 per 1000 people compared to 4.1 beds and 2.1 physicians per 1000 people in Canada and 3.6 beds and 3.6 physicians per 1000 people in the United States.
¹ ² ³

Costa Rica has both primary and secondary school education systems with primary school attendance being manditory.⁴ There are 39 universities in Costa Rica one of which is an open university (Open University in San José) that accepts all who apply.⁴ University of Costa Rica is partially funded by the national government has 28,000 students.⁴

Environmental Issues:

Despite the small size of the country, Costa Rica has become known for its forested land. At one time in Costa Rica most of the space was covered in forests but as agriculture and cattle ranching grew, the loss of forest area became a major environmental issue for this small country. Deforestation took approximately 75% of the forest and by 1990 to 1995; the country annually lost three percent of its woodland due to forest fires and trees rotting. As deforestation became a concern for the Costa Rican people other environmental issues also arose. Soil erosion and a decrease in soil fertility became another serious problem due to the soil contamination that happened as fertilizers and pesticide use grew as important cash crops for bananas, sugarcane, and coffee became more popular.
With the help of Panama, Costa Rica has protected their rainforests and has stopped deforestation in some areas of the country through their national park system in protecting fourteen percent of the land using parks, nature reserves and recreation areas.


basic economic profile, sectors (primary, secondary, tertiary, remittances), recent issues or challenges,

Costa Rica was a country that had established a stable economic growth prior to the global economic crisis. By 2009, Costa Rica’s economy had decreased by two percent. This country’s economy was established through the agricultural exports of bananas, coffee, sugar and beef. Other areas that help the continued growth in Costa Rica’s economy is high valued goods and services through tourism and foreign investors because of Costa Rica’s high level of education and free-trade. Costa Rica has the highest level of direct investment by foreigners per capita in Latin America. Through the stable economy in this country, poverty has constantly remained at twenty percent for the past twenty years.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$48.19 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
$49.43 billion (2008 est.)
$48.17 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$29.29 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

-2.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
2.6% (2008 est.)
7.8% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$11,300 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98
$11,800 (2008 est.)
$11,600 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 6.5%
industry: 25.5%
services: 68% (2009 est.)

Labor force:

2.09 million
country comparison to the world: 120
note: this official estimate excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica (2009 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 14%
industry: 22%
services: 64% (2006 est.)

Unemployment rate:

6.4% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
4.9% (2008 est.)

Population below poverty line:

16% (2006 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.5%
highest 10%: 35.5% (2005)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

48 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 32
45.9 (1997)

Investment (gross fixed):

20.5% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89


revenues: $3.795 billion
expenditures: $4.908 billion (2009 est.)

Public debt:

49.3% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47
42.2% of GDP (2008 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

8.3% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 184
13.4% (2008 est.)
Stock of money:

$4.209 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 59
$4.504 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:

$3.143 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 83
$2.87 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of domestic credit:

$15.15 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 67
$12.91 billion (31 December 2007)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 98
$2.035 billion (31 December 2007)
$1.944 billion (31 December 2006)

Agriculture - products:

bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy; timber


microprocessors, food processing, medical equipment, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products

Industrial production growth rate:

-5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108

Electricity - production:

8.808 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 96

Electricity - consumption:

8.064 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91

Electricity - exports:

77.16 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:

203.2 million kWh (2007 est.)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199

Oil - consumption:

45,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98

Oil - exports:

2,117 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115

Oil - imports:

47,860 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl
country comparison to the world: 195

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 197

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 198

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 189

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193

Current account balance:

$-662 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
$-2.648 billion (2008 est.)


$8.096 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
$9.738 billion (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities:

bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment

Exports - partners:

US 23.9%, Netherlands 13.3%, China 12.9%, UK 5%, Mexico 4.9% (2008)


$10.53 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
$14.55 billion (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities:

raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials

Imports - partners:

US 42.9%, Mexico 6.9%, Venezuela 6.3%, Japan 5.4%, China 4.7%, Brazil 4.2% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$4.089 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 68
$3.799 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Debt - external:

$8.057 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
$9.249 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$11.64 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
$18.96 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$540 million (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
$532 million (31 December 2008 est.)

Exchange rates:

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

Rural Sector:


The challenges that Costa Rica faces in its rural sector is the deforestation. 80% of the forest had disappeared ever since the end of World War II. Unfortunately, top soil became Costa Rica's top soil. Deforestation takes place so pasture land can be provided for cattle ranching to produce beef. Deforestation is also taking place in the tropical rain forests of Costa Rica; these causes a threat to several ecosystems and also has an effect on global climate.¹

Production and Productivity

Agriculture in Costa Rica is an important factor towards the economic growth of the country. A few examples of agricultural products in Costa Rica are coffee, bananas, potatoes, plaintains, cocoa beans, beef, and sugar.² Costa Rica, however, has several different and unique agricultural products. Costa Rica's is known to produce mainly bananas and coffee.
Hillside coffee plantation

Coffee production plays an important role in Costa Rican economy. It is Costa Rica's third largest export, and is the number one cash crop. It is a high quality coffee and also a high quality caffeine. San José, Alajuela, Heredia, Puntarenas and Cartargo are the largest areas of growth.³ The soil which the coffee grows gives this coffee its unique flavor. Costa Rica produces gourmet coffee beans which have become famous.

The banana industry has expanded rapidly throughout the years in order for this Central American country to meet its international demands. PressReleasePoint states, "It is the second highest contributer to the foreign currency earning in Costa Rica."⁴ Most of the banana growth is in the Atlantic lowlands using about 50,000 hectares of land.⁴

Urban Sector:


Costa Rica compared to other Latin American countries is one of the most industrialized. The urban sector of Costa Rica manufactures many different types of goods. Examples of these goods include computer chips and plastic goods produced from imported plastic. A computer chip is currently Costa Rica's major export. The Intel corporation is the major chip-manufacturing plant in Costa Rica. Other important manufacturing industries are in tuna processing, garment assembly, chemical fertilizers, and textiles. The other majority of manufacturing falls under coffee and cocoa processing, chemicals and electronics.⁵

Playa Tamarindo - Beach
In Costa Rica there are several unique tourist attractions that are worth seeing.The beaches of Costa Rica can be a good place for relaxation, and also good for swimming. The Pacific Coast have luxury resorts which tourists can stay, and surrounding beaches. There are key tourist attractions located on south of the Pacific Coast.⁶ Nicoya Peninsula is Costa Rica's largest peninsula and includes many beaches within itself. It is located on the northwestern coast of Costa Rica.⁷

One of the beaches include the Playa Tamarindo . Located on the Pacific Coast of the Guanacaste Province, this beach is one of the most visited beaches.⁸ There are sandy beaches, tourism, a busy nightlife, restaurants and accommodations for every tourist. Surfing, snorkeling, and hiking are only a few of the many activities you can do while at Playa Tamarindo.⁸

One of the main spots that gets a lot of attention is San José. San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica. There are several tourist attractions in San José, making it a must go to location when vacationing in Costa Rica. El Pueblo is a night time tourist attraction, where most of the nightlife is concentrated.⁹ There are several restaurants, galleries and discos that tourists can go to. One of the largest malls in Central America is located in San José, It is a nine story mall with 260 stores; many merchandise to choose from making it a spot that tourists have to see. Mercado Central is a market in San José. It is a good place to buy gifts, or souvenirs.⁹ One of the most grand architectural attractions is the 'Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica'; a national theater founded in 1897.⁹

Urban Migration Issues and Rapid Urbanization

Urban migration and rapid urbanization in the urban sector results in challenges for the people living there. The urbanization from the rural sector to the urban sector may result in disease and infections. The people from rural areas may have different diseases and when they migrate to the urban sector, they may pass these diseases and infections to the people of the urban sector. Urban migration issues and rapid urbanization are very similar, therefore they both have similar issues and challenges.


Values, traditions, religion, language, education, dance, music and food all make up the culture of Costa Rica. Costa Ricans are commonly referred to as Ticos/Ticas and are unique from their neighbours. 97% of the population is mestizos, a mix of Spanish and Native American or of direct European descent.

There are a number of important religious celebrations that take place, the main ones being: Easter Week, Christmas Week and August second, which is the celebration of the Virgin of the Angels. Costa Rica is also different from other countries in Latin America because they practice a more lax type of Catholicism which causes a strange mixture of partying and religious celebration during these holidays

Music is also an important part of most Latin American cultures and in Costa Rica there is no exception. They enjoy a diverse music scene from classical, calypso, Latin, American and British contemporary rock, and they especially enjoy music from the 70's and 80's. When it comes to dancing though, the majority prefer traditional Latin dance such as salsa, merengue, cumbia, lambada and soca. Discos and dance hall flood with people on the weekends to dance the night away.

Most importantly, Costa Rican culture revolves around pura vida which means pure life. This sums up their view of life

Unique Features:

Unarmed democracy

Early in Costa Rica the politics followed the typical pattern of violence and dictatorship that was a common pattern in Central America. The military, Church and the coffee barons held the most influence; presidents were often removed at gunpoint.
In 1842 a man by the name of Francisco Marazan of the CAF, returned to Costa Rica and became president via a coup. He set the standard for using arms to gain control but was executed shortly after.
After this discouraging start in Costa Rica’s political life, it slowly became more civil. A number of democratic constitutions were put into place and more people were able to vote, from 2% up to 10%. By the 20th century Costa Rica had free public education, a minimum wage was put in place along with child protection laws.
In the late 1940’s Costa Rica descended into a civil war during the presidential election and military forces from the USA and Nicaragua were called in. Peace was restored in about two months but 2000 people had fallen victim.
Out of the pandemonium came Jose Ferrer a coffee grower and democrat. At the head of a temporary military rule, he enacted nearly 1000 decrees. Ferrer taxed the wealthy; as well he nationalized the banks, and built a modern welfare state. He also instituted a constitution in 1949 that granted full citizenship and voting rights to everyone including women, blacks, indigenous groups and other minorities. The most astonishing was his abolishment of the military, saying that it threatened democracy. Ferrer provided the foundation for Costa Rica’s unique and unarmed democracy

Costa Rica- The Gem

As the Spanish explored Costa Rica for the first time searching for the hidden wealth, the rainforest proved to be quite the obstacle. Today we’ve discovered that this hidden wealth was in fact the rainforest and Costa Rica is at the head of the world environment movement.
Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco became the first federally protected conservation area in 1963. By 1995 there were nearly 125 sites (including national parks, forest and wildlife reserves) protected by the government. Now almost one-third of the entire country is under some sort of environmental protection.

The Coffee Empire
The soil and climate in Costa Rica are ideal for growing coffee. This was realized in the 19th century and capitalized on, which turned this once impoverished country into the wealthiest in the region. The coffee craze took off, and by the end of the century, coffee accounted for more than 90% of all exports and 80% of foreign currency earnings

In Costa Rica, the coffee industry differed from the rest of Central America. Simillar to the other countries, coffee barons arose but unlike the rest of Central America, they lacked the land and labour to grow the coffee. This allowed the farmers to become the principal planters and the barons processed, marketed and financed the coffee. This created a network of small scale farmers and high end traders, unlike the rest of Central America where an elite group controlled large amounts of land and had tenants working for them.

Urban and Rural Sector
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United Nations General Assembly //Resolution// 55 session 35 **Charter of the University for Peace**

¹ Retrieved January 18, 2010 from
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Photograph Credit
San Jose retrieved January 21, 2010 from
Oscar Arias retrieved January 21, 2010 from

Health and Education
¹ Retrieved January 18, 2010 from
² Retrieved January 18, 2010 from
³ Retrieved January 18, 2010 from
⁴ Retrieved January 18, 2010 from
Photograph Credit
Costa Rica School retrieved January 21, 2010 from