Costa Rica

Map of Costa Rica Costa Rica
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U.S. Department of State Country Profile: Costa Rica
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, April 17, 1997.

Official Name: Republic of Costa Rica


Area: 51,032 sq. km. (19,652 sq. mi.); about twice the size of the state of Vermont.
Cities: Capital -- San Jose (metropolitan area population of 1.2 million).
Other major cities -- Alajuela (250,000), Puntarenas (300,000), Limon (150,000), Cartago (150,000).
Terrain: A rugged, central range separates the eastern and western coastal plains.
Climate: Mild in the central highlands, tropical and subtropical in coastal areas.

PEOPLE (July 1995)

Nationality: Noun and adjective -- Costa Rican(s).
Population: 3.3 million.
Annual growth rate: 2.4%
Ethnic groups: European and some mestizo 94%, African origin 3%, indigenous 1%.
Religion: Roman Catholic approx. 85%, Evangelical Protestant approx. 15%, Others: Less than 1%.
Languages: Spanish, with Jamaican dialect of English spoken around Puerto Limon.
Education: Years compulsory -- 9. Attendance--nearly 100%.
Literacy -- 94%.
Health: Infant mortality rate -- 13/1,000. Life expectancy -- men 72 years, women 76 years.
Work force (1995, 1.2 million): Services -- 45%. Agriculture -- 22%. Industry - 17%. Construction -- 6%. Transportation -- 5%. Banking and finance -- 4%.


Type: Democratic Republic.
Independence: September 15, 1821.
Constitution: November 7, 1949.
Branches: Executive -- President (Head of Government and Chief of State) elected for one four-year term, two Vice Presidents, Cabinet (19 ministers). Legislature -- 57-Deputy unicameral Legislative Assembly elected at four-year intervals. Judicial -- Supreme Court of Justice (22 magistrates elected by Legislative Assembly for renewable eight-year terms).
Subdivisions: Seven provinces, divided into 81 cantons, subdivided into 421 districts.
Political parties: National Liberation Party (PLN), Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), Democratic Force (FD) Agricultural Union Party of Cartago (PUAC), National Agrarian Party (PAN).
Suffrage: Obligatory at 18.


GDP (1995) $9.3 billion.
Real growth rate (1995) 2.5%.
Per capita income (1995): $2,964.
Natural resources: Hydroelectric power.
Industry (22% of GDP): Products-food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, petroleum refining. Agriculture (19% of GDP): Products -- bananas, coffee, beef, sugarcane, rice, vegetables, ornamental plants and fruits.
Commerce and tourism (40% of GDP): hotels, restaurants, tourist services, banks and insurance.
Foreign Trade (1995): Exports -- $2.6 billion: bananas, coffee, beef, textiles and clothing, fruits, sugar, flowers and ornamental plants. Major markets -- U.S. 42%, Europe 32%, Central America 16%, Japan 1%.
Imports--$3.3 billion: machinery, vehicles, consumer goods, chemicals, petroleum products, foods, fertilizer. Major suppliers -- U.S. 48%, Europe 28%, Japan 15%, Central America 5%.
Currency exchange rate: (Aug. 1996) 210 colones = $1.


President--Jose Maria FIGUERES Olsen
Foreign Minister--Fernando NARANJO Villalobos
Ambassador to the United States--Sonia PICADO Sotela
Ambassador to the OAS--Fernando HERRERO
Ambassador to the UN--Fernando BERROCAL

President Clinton's Trip to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Barbados

Central America
May 1997

Today on the Central American Trip

Central America Trip Briefings

Central America Trip Remarks

Declaration of San Jose



Costa Rica

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