Costa Rica 1999Costa%20Rica

 Costa Rica | | | | | |
| | | :  |

Costa Rica
Costa Rica 

Thrifty Traveler

Costa Rica - Introduction 1999
top of page

Background: Costa Rica declared its independence from Spain in 1821. After a turbulent beginning it inaugurated an era of peaceful democracy in 1889, subsequently interrupted only twice, by a dictatorial interlude in 1917-19 and an armed uprising in 1948. Increasing the role of the private sector while maintaining the government's social safety net and keeping under control the budget deficit, unemployment, and inflation are key current issues.

Costa Rica - Geography 1999
top of page

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 referenceCentral America and the Caribbean

Total: 51,100 km²
Land: 50,660 km²
Water: 440 km²
Note: includes Isla del Coco
Comparative: slightly smaller than West Virginia

Land boundaries
Total: 639 km
Border countries: (2) 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

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

Natural resources: hydropower
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 6%
Permanent crops: 5%
Permanent pastures: 46%
Forests and woodland: 31%
Other: 12% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 1,200 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

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


Costa Rica - People 1999
top of page

Population: 3,674,490 (July 1999 est.)
Growth rate: 1.89% (1999 est.)
Below poverty line: NA%

Noun: Costa Rican(s)
Adjective: Costa Rican

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

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

Religions: Roman Catholic 95%

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 33% (male 622,260; female 593,720)
15-64 years: 62% (male 1,150,900; female 1,121,970)
65 years and over: 5% (male 85,526; female 100,114) (1999 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 1.89% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 22.46 births/1000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 4.16 deaths/1000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.63 migrant(s)/1000 population (1999 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: deforestation, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching; soil erosion
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, Whaling
International agreements signed but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Marine Life Conservation

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 12.89 deaths/1000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 76.04 years
Male: 73.6 years
Female: 78.61 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.76 children born/woman (1999 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 94.8%
Male: 94.7%
Female: 95% (1995 est.)

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Costa Rica - Government 1999
top of page

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

Government type: democratic republic

Capital: San Jose

Administrative divisions: 7 provinces (provincias, singular_provincia; Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose

Dependent areas

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

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch
Chief of state: President Miguel Angel RODRIGUEZ (since 8 May 1998); First Vice President Astrid FISCHEL Volio (since 8 May 1998), Second Vice President Elizabeth ODIO Benito (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 Volio (since 8 May 1998), Second Vice President Elizabeth ODIO Benito (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_PUSC 41%, PLN 35%, minority parties 24%; 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

International organization participation: 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, OPCW, 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 Jaime DAREMBLUM
In the us chancery: 2,114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20,008
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 234-2,945
In the us FAX: [1] (202) 265-4,795
In the us consulates 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
In the us consulates: Austin
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas J. DODD
From the us embassy: Pavas Road, San Jose
From the us mailing address: APO AA 34,020
From the us telephone: [506] 220-3,939
From the us FAX: [506] 220-2,305

Flag descriptionflag of Costa%20Rica: 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

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Costa Rica - Economy 1999
top of page

Economy overview: Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Poverty has been substantially reduced over the past 15 years and a strong social safety net has been put into place. Economic growth has rebounded from -0.9% in 1996 to 3% in 1997 and an estimated 5.5% in 1998. Inflation rose to 22.5% in 1995, dropped to 11.1% in 1997, and reached an estimated 12% in 1998. Unemployment appears moderate at 5.6%, but substantial underemployment continues. Furthermore, large government deficits_fueled by interest payments on the massive internal debt_have undermined efforts to maintain the quality of social services. Curbing inflation, reducing the deficit, and improving public sector efficiency remain key challenges to the government. President RODRIGUEZ has called for an increased economic role for the private sector, but political resistance to privatization has stalled much of his economic program.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: 5.5% (1998 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 15%
Industry: 24%
Services: 61% (1997)

Agriculture products: coffee, bananas, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef; timber

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

Industrial production growth rate: 10.5% (1992)

Labor force: 868,300
By occupation industry and commerce: 23.3%
By occupation governmentand services: 55.1%
By occupation agriculture: 21.6% (1996 est.)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 5.6% (1998 est.), much underemployment

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line: NA%

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

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

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: $3.9 billion (f.o.b., 1998)
Commodities: manufactured products, coffee, bananas, textiles, sugar (1997)
Partners: US, Benelux, Germany, Italy, Guatemala, El Salvador, Netherlands, UK, France (1997)

Imports: $4.5 billion (c.i.f., 1998)
Commodities: raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum (1997)
Partners: US, Japan, Mexico, Venezuela, Guatemala, Germany (1997)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

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

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: Costa Rican colones (C) per US$1_272.58 (January 1999), 257.23 (1998), 232.60 (1997), 207.69 (1996), 179.73 (1995), 157.07 (1994)

Costa Rica - Energy 1999
top of page

Electricity access

Electricity production: 4.785 billion kWh (1996)
By source fossil fuel: 14.11%
By source hydro: 75.44%
By source nuclear: 0%
By source other: 10.45% (1996)

Electricity consumption: 4.931 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity exports: 44 million kWh (1996)

Electricity imports: 190 million kWh (1996)

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Costa Rica - Communication 1999
top of page

Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: very good domestic telephone service
Domestic: NA
International: connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth station_1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Costa Rica - Military 1999
top of page

Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $55 million (1995)
Percent of gdp: 2% (1995)

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Costa Rica - Transportation 1999
top of page

National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 156 (1998 est.)
With paved runways total: 28
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 2
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 1
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 18
With paved runways under 914 m: 7 (1998 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 128
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 29
With unpaved runways under 914 m: 99 (1998 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 28
2438 to 3047 m: 2
15-24 to 2437 m: 1
914 to 1523 m: 18
Under 914 m: 7 (1998 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 128
914 to 1523 m: 29
Under 914 m: 99 (1998 est.)


Pipelines: petroleum products 176 km

Total: 950 km
Narrow gauge: 950 km 1.067-m gauge (260 km electrified)


Waterways: about 730 km, seasonally navigable

Merchant marine: none

Ports and terminals

Costa Rica - Transnational issues 1999
top of page

Disputes international: none

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs: transshipment country for cocaine and heroin from South America; illicit production of cannabis on small, scattered plots

Undercover Tourist

You found a piece of the puzzle

Please click here to complete it