Costa Rica Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Costa Rica > Map Economy History

San Jose
Cocos Island National Park
Corcovado National Park
Protected areas and National Parks

Facts About Costa Rica

Background: Costa Rica is a Central American success story: since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development. Although still a largely agricultural country, it has achieved a relatively high standard of living. Land ownership is widespread. Tourism is a rapidly expanding industry.
Government type: democratic republic
Capital: San Jose
Currency: 1 Costa Rican colon (C) = 100 centimos

Geography of Costa Rica

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
Area:
total: 51,100 sq km
land: 50,660 sq km
water: 440 sq km
note: includes Isla del Coco
Land boundaries:
total: 639 km
border countries: Nicaragua 309 km, Panama 330 km
Coastline: 1,290 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands
Terrain: coastal plains separated by rugged mountains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m
Natural resources: hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 6%
permanent crops: 5%
permanent pastures: 46%
forests and woodland: 31%
other: 12% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 1,200 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season; active volcanoes
Environment - current issues: deforestation and land use change, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching and agriculture; soil erosion; water pollution (rivers); coastal marine pollution; wetlands degradation; fisheries protection; solid waste management; air pollution.
Environment - 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
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note: four volcanoes, two of them active, rise near the capital of San Jose in the center of the country; one of the volcanoes, Irazu, erupted destructively in 1963-65.

People of Costa Rica

Unlike many of their Central American neighbors, present-day Costa Ricans are largely of European rather than mestizo descent; Spain was the primary country of origin. However, an estimated 10% to 15% of the population is Nicaraguan, of fairly recent arrival and primarily of mestizo origin. Descendants of 19th-century Jamaican immigrant workers constitute an English-speaking minority and--at 3% of the population--number about 96,000. Few of the native Indians survived European contact; the indigenous population today numbers about 29,000 or less than 1% of the population.

Population: 4,016,173 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  31.38% 
15-64 years:  63.37%
65 years and over:  5.25%
Population growth rate: 1.65% 
Birth rate: 20.27 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 4.3 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0.53 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 11.18 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  76.02 years
male:  73.49 years
female:  78.68 years 
Total fertility rate: 2.47 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Costa Rican(s)
adjective: Costa Rican
Ethnic groups: white (including mestizo) 94%, black 3%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1%, other 1%
Religions: Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, other Protestant 0.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%
Languages: Spanish (official), English spoken around Puerto Limon
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.8%
male: 94.7%
female: 95% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Costa Rica > Map Economy History