OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Costa Rica
CAPITAL: San Jose
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 51,022 Sq Km (19,700 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 3,674,200
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Costa Rica is located on the Central
American Isthmus. It is bound by the Pacific Ocean to the
southwest and west, Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean
Sea to the northeast and Panama to the southeast. A series
of volcanic ridges form the backbone of Costa Rica, although
topographically it can be divided into three zones. (1.)
The central highlands which consist of two upland basins,
the Cartago to the east and San Jose to the west which are
separated by low volcanic hills. (2.) The Pacific coastal
zone which consists of the Palmar Lowland Complex, the Guanacaste
Plain, the Cordillera de Guanacaste, the Tempisque River
Valley and the peninsulas of Burica, Osa and Nicoya. (3.)
The Atlantic coastal zone which is a low swampy and heavily
forested plain. Costa Rica has four volcanoes, of which
two are active. Eighteen small rivers drain the country,
of which the principal ones are the Tempisque, San Juan,
General Sixaola, San Jose and the Grande de Tarcoles. Major
Cities (pop. est.); San Jose 280,600, Desamparados 54,700,
Limon 50,900, Alajuela, 45,400, Puntarenas 38,200 (1992).
Land Use; forested 32%, pastures 46%, agricultural-cultivated
10%, other 12% (1992).
CLIMATE: Costa Rica has a tropical climate with two seasons.
A wet season from May to November and a dry season from December to April.
In the central upland areas the climate is more temperate. Average annual
precipitation is 3,300 mm (130 inches) and rainfall patterns vary from
region to region. Average temperature ranges in San Jose are from 14 to
24 degrees Celsius (57 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) in December to 17 to 27
degrees Celsius (63 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit) in May.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Whites of European
descent with many pure Spanish. Around 87% of the population are White
while 7% are Mestizos who are of mixed Spanish and AmerIndian descent and
3% are Black Africans or Mulattoes. The three major indigenous AmerIndian
groups are the Chorotega-Mangues, the Boruca and the Talamanca tribes which
can be divided into two main sub tribes the Bribi and the Cabecares. The
principal alien groups are the Mexicans, Panamanians and Nicaraguans.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 60 persons per sq km (156
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 54.0% urban, 46.0% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 50.5% male, 49.5% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
72.4 years male, 77.0 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 36% under 15,
29% 15 to 29, 19% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 28.2 per 1,000 (1989). Death Rate; 3.8 per 1,000 (1989). Increase
Rate; 24.4 per 1,000 (1989). Infant Mortality Rate; 15.4 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with around 85% of the population
Roman Catholic while 15% are Protestant.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Spanish which is remarkably
pure and close to Castilian Spanish. English is the second national language
and the AmerIndian languages all belong to the Chibcha family of languages.
EDUCATION: Economically active population aged 25 or over and
having attained: no formal schooling 8.3%, incomplete primary 28.6%, primary
26.3%, secondary 22.6%, higher 14.2% (1984). Literacy; literate population
aged 15 or over 1,798,000 or 92.8% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1948 a disputed presidential
election led to the National Assembly declaring it illegal, which in turn
resulted in a brief civil war. Col. Jose Pepe Figueres Ferrer led the revolt
to prevent what was a threatened communist takeover. Figueres took office
as interim President and reorganized the government. He also placed banks
under state control and abolished the national army replacing it with a
4,000 member civil guard with officers loyal to him. In 1955 there was
an air and land invasion by exiled Costa Ricans from Nicaragua, however,
the revolutionaries who attempted to overthrow the government were defeated.
Between 1963 and 1965 Irazu volcano showered tons of ash over San Jose
forcing 1,000 people to abandon their homes. Between 1984 and 1985 numerous
border skirmishes took place with Nicaragua and in 1985 the US trained
a Costa Rican anti-guerrilla unit to patrol the border with Nicaragua.
In 1986 Oscar Arias Sanchez was appointed President and asserted his commitment
to developing Costa Rica's welfare system while in foreign affairs he initiated
and designed the Central American Peace Plan which was signed in Aug. 1987.
In the same year Pres. Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership
in creating a regional peace plan for Central America. However, in Feb.
1990 he was defeated in elections by Rafael Angel Calderon Fournier while
Pres. Calderon vowed to continue the export led economic policies and further
privatization of public enterprises. On Apr. 22, 1991 an earthquake measuring
7.4 on the Richter scale left some 50 people dead while hundreds were injured
and in Aug. 1991 severe flooding also resulted in widespread property damage.
The natural disasters caused serious economic woes for the country with
its transport and shipping infrastructure badly disrupted. Also during
1991 there were two general strikes in June and July by workers protesting
about the country's economic situation. In Feb. 1992 the government eased
foreign exchange restrictions that included the legalization of the country's
black market trade in US dollars. In June 1993 the Legislative Assembly
approved plans for construction to commence on a coast-to-coast rail link
between Parismina and Cuajiniquil. In July 1993 Japan withdrew its commitment
to provide $100 million to the $300 million third-stage of the IMF's structural
adjustment program. Also during 1992 Costa Rica protested at the EU's proposal
to protect exports from former colonies claiming it was contrary to the
rules of GATT with initial negotiations in Sept. 1992 failing. On Mar.
8, 1993 five armed Nicaraguans seized control of their embassy in San Jose
taking 25 hostages and demanding the resignation of the Nicaraguan armed
forces commander and a presidential minister as well as a $6 million ransom.
All the hostages were later released while the kidnap leader was granted
asylum in the Dominican Republic. On Apr. 26, 1993 five Costa Rican gunmen
seized 19 Supreme Court judges and demanded a $20 million ransom, although
Pres. Calderon declared that the government wouldn't pay it. On Apr. 29,
1993 the hostages were released and the gunmen arrested. On May 17, 1993
the trial of former president Luis Alberto Monge and 18 other PLN leaders
on embezzlement and misappropriation charges began.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Colon (C) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $7,041,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $3,139,000,000 (1993). Imports; USD $2,900,700,000 (1993). Exports;
USD $1,944,600,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $577,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; USD -$558,200,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 1,143,324
or 38.1% of total population (1993). Unemployed; 4.2% (1995).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are CACM, the
UK and the USA.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Bauxite, Cattle, Cocoa, Coffee,
Gold, Iron Ore, Maize, Oranges, Rice, Silver, Sugar Cane, Sulfur.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Aluminum Smelting, Chemicals, Construction
Materials, Fishing, Fertilizers, Food Processing, Forestry, Textiles.
MAIN EXPORTS: Bananas, Beef, Cocoa, Coffee, Sugar, Textile, Yarn
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 647 km (402 mi) (1989), passenger-km
42,600,000 (26,470,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 150,000,000 (102,735,000
short ton-mi) (1987). Roads; length 35,556 km (22,093 mi) (1990). Vehicles;
cars 168,814 (1990), trucks and buses 95,066 (1990). Merchant Marine; vessels
30 (1990), deadweight tonnage 6,061 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km
987,000,000 (613,293,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 39,233,000
(26,871,000 short ton-mi) (1990).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 4 with a total circulation
of 322,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 760,000 (1994). Television; receivers
340,000 (1994). Telephones; units 364,100 (1993).
MILITARY: 7,500 (1991) total active duty personnel with 100%
paramilitary or police forces while military expenditure accounts for 0.4%
(1991) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
© 1993-2011, Latimer Clarke Corporation Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved
Use of these site materials or portion thereof is restricted
Atlapedia is a trademark and in worldwide use
See our Legal Notice for Copyright and Linking conditions of use
Best viewed at 1024x768 or higher