Geographic and Governmental Profile of Costa Rica

Background
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. In 1949, Costa Rica dissolved its armed forces. 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
Geographic coordinates
10 00 N, 84 00 W
Continent / Subcontinent
Central America and the Caribbean
Area
total:
51,100 sq km
rank:
130
land:
51,060 sq km
water:
40 sq km
includes Isla del Coco
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than West Virginia
Land boundaries
total:
639 km
border countries:
Nicaragua 309 km, Panama 330 km
Coastline
1,290 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
continental shelf:
200 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 including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major volcanoes
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point:
Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m
Natural resources
hydropower
Land use
arable land:
4.4%
permanent crops:
5.87%
other:
89.73% (2005)
Get Chart Code
Get Chart Code
Irrigated land
1,080 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
112.4 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
2.68 cu km/yr (29%/17%/53%)
per capita:
619 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season and landslides; active volcanoes
volcanism:
Arenal (elev. 1,670 m), which erupted in 2010, is the most active volcano in Costa Rica; a 1968 eruption destroyed the town of Tabacon; Irazu (elev. 3,432 m), situated just east of San Jose, has the potential to spew ash over the capital city as it did between 1963 and 1965; other historically active volcanoes include Miravalles, Poas, Rincon de la Vieja, and Turrialba
Environment - current issues
deforestation and land use change, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching and agriculture; soil erosion; coastal marine pollution; fisheries protection; solid waste management; air pollution
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified:
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
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
name:
San Jose
geographic coordinates:
9 56 N, 84 05 W
time difference:
UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions
7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose
Independence
15 September 1821 (from Spain)
Constitution
7 November 1949
Legal system
civil law system based on Spanish civil code; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court
International law organization participation
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Laura CHINCHILLA Miranda (since 8 May 2010); First Vice President Alfio PIVA Mesen (since 8 May 2010); Second Vice President Luis LIBERMAN Ginsburg (since 8 May 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government:
President Laura CHINCHILLA Miranda (since 8 May 2010); First Vice President Alfio PIVA Mesen (since 8 May 2010); Second Vice President Luis LIBERMAN Ginsburg (since 8 May 2010)
cabinet:
Cabinet selected by the president
elections:
president and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single four-year term; election last held on 7 February 2010 (next to be held in February 2014)
election results:
Laura CHINCHILLA Miranda elected president; percent of vote - Laura CHINCHILLA Miranda (PLN) 46.7%; Otton SOLIS (PAC) 25.1%, Otto GUEVARA Guth (ML) 20.8%
Legislative branch
unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (57 seats; members elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections:
last held on 7 February 2010 (next to be held in February 2014)
election results:
percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PLN 23, PAC 10, ML 9, PUSC 6, PASE 4, other 5
Judicial branch
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (22 justices are elected for renewable eight-year terms by the Legislative Assembly)
Political parties and leaders
Accessibility Without Exclusion or PASE [Oscar Andres LOPEZ Arias]; Citizen Action Party or PAC [Elizabeth FONSECA]; Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Gerardo Justo OROZCO Alvarez]; Frente Amplio [Jose MERINO del Rio]; Libertarian Movement Party or PML [Otto GUEVARA Guth]; National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes]; National Liberation Party or PLN [Bernal JIMENEZ]; Patriotic Alliance [Mariano FIGUERES Olsen]; Popular Vanguard [Trino BARRANTES Araya]; Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Gerardo VARGAS]
Political pressure groups and leaders
Authentic Confederation of Democratic Workers or CATD (Communist Party affiliate); Chamber of Coffee Growers; Confederated Union of Workers or CUT (Communist Party affiliate); Costa Rican Confederation of Democratic Workers or CCTD (Liberation Party affiliate); Costa Rican Exporter's Chamber or CADEXCO; Costa Rican Solidarity Movement; Costa Rican Union of Private Sector Enterprises or UCCAEP; Federation of Public Service Workers or FTSP; National Association for Economic Development or ANFE; National Association of Educators or ANDE; National Association of Public and Private Employees or ANEP; Rerum Novarum or CTRN (PLN affiliate)
International organization participation
BCIE, CACM, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Shanon Muni FIGUERES Boggs
chancery:
2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:
[1] (202) 480-2200
FAX:
[1] (202) 265-4795
consulate(s) general:
Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico)
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Anne Slaughter ANDREW
embassy:
Calle 120 Avenida O, Pavas, San Jose
mailing address:
APO AA 34020
telephone:
[506] 2519-2000
FAX:
[506] 2519-2305
Flag description
five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white elliptical disk toward the hoist side of the red band; Costa Rica retained the earlier blue-white-blue flag of Central America until 1848 when, in response to revolutionary activity in Europe, it was decided to incorporate the French colors into the national flag and a central red stripe was added; today the blue color is said to stand for the sky, opportunity, and perseverance, white denotes peace, happiness, and wisdom, while red represents the blood shed for freedom, as well as the generosity and vibrancy of the people
somewhat resembles the flag of North Korea; similar to the flag of Thailand but with the blue and red colors reversed
National symbol(s)
clay-colored robin known as Yiguirro
National anthem
name:
"Himno Nacional de Costa Rica" (National Anthem of Costa Rica)
lyrics/music:
Jose Maria ZELEDON Brenes/Manuel Maria GUTIERREZ
adopted 1949; the anthem's music was originally written for an 1853 welcome ceremony for diplomatic missions from the United States and United Kingdom; the lyrics were added in 1903
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

Comments are closed.