The Republic of Costa Rica is located in Central America, bordering on the north with Nicaragua, on the east with the Caribbean Sea, on the southeast with Panama, and on the southwest and west with the Pacific Ocean. Its total area corresponds to 51.100 km2 – including Isla del Coco -, of which 51.060 km2 is land and 40 km2 water. The capital of the country is San José.
Costa Rica has a predominantly tropical and subtropical climate, with a dry season that runs from December to April and a rainy season that runs from May to November.
Foreign investors are attracted by the country’s political stability and relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) Regime. Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America.
In 2016 (est.), Costa Rica reached a GDP (official exchange rate) of US$57.44 billion, with a real growth rate of 4,3% and a per capita income of US$16.100.
The country concentrates its GDP in the service sector with 75,9%, followed by the industrial sector with 18,6%, and the agriculture sector with 5,5%, with an unemployment rate of 9,3% for an economically active population of approximately 2.3 million people (est. 2016).
In terms of foreign trade, Costa Rica’s main import and export partner is the United States. The main Costa Rican products exported correspond to bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, beef, electronic components, and medical devices. Meanwhile, the main import products are raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, and construction materials.
The population of Costa Rica (est. 2016) corresponds to 4.890.379 inhabitants, of which 50,5% are men and 49,5% are women. Most of this population is concentrated in the age range between 25 and 54 years old (about 44%).
A part of the population of Costa Rica is European descent (mainly Spanish). Caucasians and mestizos represent about 83,6% of the population; 6,7% are mulatos, 2,4% are indigenous, and the African descents are approximately 1,1% (est. 2011).
Roman Catholicism is the state religion and is practiced by approximately 76,3% of the population. However, freedom of worship is guaranteed by the Constitution of Costa Rica. The 13,7% of Costa Ricans are evangelicals, 1,3% are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the remaining percentage practice other religions.
During 2016 (est.), the Costa Rican population grew at a rate of 1,2%. In terms of urbanization, 76,8% of the total Costa Rican population lives in urban areas, being San José as the largest city and home of about 1.17 million inhabitants (2015).
The average life expectancy at birth in Costa Rica is 78,6 years (est. 2016), one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere. The national health plan was established in the 1970s. Health services are concentrated in urban areas. A social security program has been in operation since 1942, with compulsory participation for all employees under the age of 65.
Spanish is the official language, and the teaching of English is becoming widespread in the educational schemes of the country. The literacy rate in the country corresponds to 97,8% of the total population (est. 2015).
During 2015, the Government of Costa Rica invested in health 9,9% of GDP, and 7,36% of GDP in education. Primary and secondary education is free, and attendance is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 13.
Costa Rica is a presidential republic that is divided into seven provinces: San Jose, Alajuela, Cartago, Puntarenas, Guanacaste, Heredia and Limón.
The Costa Rican Government has three branches: Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch.
The Executive Branch is headed by the President and two Vice Presidents, each of whom is elected by direct popular vote for a period of four years. Voting is universal and mandatory for all citizens over 18 years of age. The president is assisted by a cabinet of ministers appointed by him.
The Legislative Branch is constituted by an unicameral Legislative Assembly, with 57 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies – corresponding to the Costa Rica’s seven provinces – by proportional representation vote. Members serve four-year terms.
The Judicial Branch, for its part, is constituted by a Supreme Court of Justice, as well as appellate courts, trial courts, first instance and justice of the peace courts. The Superior Electoral Tribunal is also part of this branch. The death penalty has been eliminated.
The main political groups in Costa Rica, represented in the Legislative Assembly, are the Citizen Action Party (PAC), the National Liberation Party (PLN), the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), the Broad Front (FA), the Libertarian Movement Party (ML), the National Restoration Party (RD), the Accessibility Without Exclusion Party (PASE), among the main.
Costa Rica has no armed forces since 1948 when the army was abolished. The only security forces are the Civil Guard of 4.500 members, and the Rural Guard of 3.200 members approximately.