General Information on Costa Rica
History: Although explored by the Spanish early in the 16th century, initial attempts at colonizing Costa Rica proved unsuccessful due to a combination of factors, including: disease from mosquito-infested swamps, brutal heat, resistance by natives, and pirate raids. It was not until 1563 that a permanent settlement of Cartago was established in the cooler, fertile central highlands. The area remained a colony for some two and a half centuries.
In 1821, Costa Rica became one of several Central American provinces that jointly declared their independence from Spain. Two years later it joined the United Provinces of Central America, but this federation disintegrated in 1838, at which time Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence. Since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred the country’s democratic development.
Although it still maintains a large agricultural sector, Costa Rica has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism industries. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.
Location: Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama.
Area: 19,730 square miles (51,100 square kilometers). Slightly smaller than West Virginia.
Population: 4,576,562 (July 2011 est.)
Capital: San Jose
Government: Democratic republic
Head of State & Government: President Laura Chinchilla Miranda (since 8 May 2010)
Currency: Costa Rican colon
Language: Spanish (official), English
Religion: Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%.
Time Zone: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Emergency numbers: For police, medical, or fire, dial 911 or 112
Electricity:Costa Rica’s electricity is 120 volts, and American-style plugs are the norm.
Climate: Tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands.
Electricity: 120 volts
National Holidays: Independence Day (Sept. 15)
Life Expectancy at Birth: 77 years
Economy: Based on tourism, agriculture (bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes, beef, timber), and electronics exports
Exports: $8.096 billion (2009 est.)
Imports: $10.53 billion (2009 est.)
Gross Domestic Product (Purchasing Power Parity): $48.19 billion (2009 est.)
GDP per Capita: $11,300 (2009 est.)
Inflation Rate: 8.3% (2009 est.)
Telephone system: Good domestic telephone service in terms of breadth of coverage; under the terms of CAFTA-DR, the state-run telecommunications monopoly scheduled to be opened to competition from domestic and international firms, has been delayed by the nation’s telecommunications regulator.
International country code: 506
Cell phones users:1.95 million (2009)
Internet users:1.485 million (2009)
Internet country code:.cr
Source: CIA The World Factbook
Learn more about Costa Rica and other countries in our daily postcard e-letter. Simply enter your email address below and we’ll send you a FREE REPORT – Why Are Americans Still Flocking to Costa Rica.
This special guide covers real estate, retirement and more in Costa Rica and is yours free when you sign up for our IL postcards below.
Enter your email address below