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Central America :: Costa Rica Print
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COSTA RICA
  • Introduction :: Costa Rica
  • Background field listing
    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. On 1 December 1948, 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.
    COSTA RICA SUMMARY: PDF
  • Geography :: Costa Rica
  • Location field listing
    Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    10 00 N, 84 00 W
    Map references field listing
    Central America and the Caribbean
    Area field listing
    total: 51,100 sq km
    land: 51,060 sq km
    water: 40 sq km

    note: includes Isla del Coco

    country comparison to the world: 130
    Area - comparative field listing
    slightly smaller than West Virginia
    Land boundaries field listing
    total: 661 km
    border countries (2): Nicaragua 313 km, Panama 348 km
    Coastline field listing
    1,290 km
    Maritime claims field listing
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    continental shelf: 200 nm
    Climate field listing
    tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands
    Terrain field listing
    coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major active volcanoes
    Elevation field listing
    mean elevation: 746 m
    elevation extremes: 0 m lowest point: Pacific Ocean
    3819 highest point: Cerro Chirripo
    Natural resources field listing
    hydropower
    Land use field listing
    agricultural land: 37.1% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 4.9% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 6.7% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 25.5% (2011 est.)
    forest: 51.5% (2011 est.)
    other: 11.4% (2011 est.)
    Irrigated land field listing
    1,015 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution field listing
    roughly half of the nation's population resides in urban areas; the capital of San Jose is the largest city and home to approximately one-fifth of the population
    Natural hazards field listing

    occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season and landslides; active volcanoes

    volcanism: Arenal (1,670 m), which erupted in 2010, is the most active volcano in Costa Rica; a 1968 eruption destroyed the town of Tabacon; Irazu (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 field listing
    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 field listing
    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 field listing
    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 and Society :: Costa Rica
  • Population field listing
    4,987,142 (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 123
    Nationality field listing
    noun: Costa Rican(s)
    adjective: Costa Rican
    Ethnic groups field listing
    white or mestizo 83.6%, mulatto 6.7%, indigenous 2.4%, black of African descent 1.1%, other 1.1%, none 2.9%, unspecified 2.2% (2011 est.)
    Languages field listing
    Spanish (official), English
    Religions field listing
    Roman Catholic 71.8%, Evangelical and Pentecostal 12.3%, other Protestant 2.6%, Jehovah's Witness 0.5%, other 2.4%, none 10.4% (2016 est.)
    Demographic profile field listing

    Costa Rica's political stability, high standard of living, and well-developed social benefits system set it apart from its Central American neighbors. Through the government's sustained social spending - almost 20% of GDP annually - Costa Rica has made tremendous progress toward achieving its goal of providing universal access to education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and electricity. Since the 1970s, expansion of these services has led to a rapid decline in infant mortality, an increase in life expectancy at birth, and a sharp decrease in the birth rate. The average number of children born per women has fallen from about 7 in the 1960s to 3.5 in the early 1980s to below replacement level today. Costa Rica's poverty rate is lower than in most Latin American countries, but it has stalled at around 20% for almost two decades.

    Costa Rica is a popular regional immigration destination because of its job opportunities and social programs. Almost 9% of the population is foreign-born, with Nicaraguans comprising nearly three-quarters of the foreign population. Many Nicaraguans who perform unskilled seasonal labor enter Costa Rica illegally or overstay their visas, which continues to be a source of tension. Less than 3% of Costa Rica's population lives abroad. The overwhelming majority of expatriates have settled in the United States after completing a university degree or in order to work in a highly skilled field.

    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 22.43% (male 572,172 /female 546,464)
    15-24 years: 15.94% (male 405,515 /female 389,433)
    25-54 years: 44.04% (male 1,105,944 /female 1,090,434)
    55-64 years: 9.48% (male 229,928 /female 242,696)
    65 years and over: 8.11% (male 186,531 /female 218,025) (2018 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Dependency ratios field listing
    total dependency ratio: 45.4 (2015 est.)
    youth dependency ratio: 32.4 (2015 est.)
    elderly dependency ratio: 12.9 (2015 est.)
    potential support ratio: 7.7 (2015 est.)
    Median age field listing
    total: 31.7 years
    male: 31.2 years
    female: 32.2 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 109
    Population growth rate field listing
    1.13% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 95
    Birth rate field listing
    15.3 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 121
    Death rate field listing
    4.8 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 200
    Net migration rate field listing
    0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 59
    Population distribution field listing
    roughly half of the nation's population resides in urban areas; the capital of San Jose is the largest city and home to approximately one-fifth of the population
    Urbanization field listing
    urban population: 79.3% of total population (2018)
    rate of urbanization: 1.5% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population field listing
    1.358 million SAN JOSE (capital) (2018)
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    Maternal mortality rate field listing
    25 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 122
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 7.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    male: 8.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    female: 7.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 153
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 78.9 years (2018 est.)
    male: 76.2 years (2018 est.)
    female: 81.7 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 55
    Total fertility rate field listing
    1.89 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    Contraceptive prevalence rate field listing
    76.2% (2011)
    Health expenditures field listing
    9.3% of GDP (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 33
    Physicians density field listing
    1.15 physicians/1,000 population (2013)
    Hospital bed density field listing
    1.1 beds/1,000 population (2014)
    Drinking water source field listing
    improved: urban: 99.6% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 91.9% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 97.8% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 0.4% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 8.1% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 2.2% of population (2015 est.)
    Sanitation facility access field listing
    improved: urban: 95.2% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 92.3% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 94.5% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 4.8% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 7.7% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 5.5% of population (2015 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate field listing
    0.4% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 70
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    13,000 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 93
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
    <200 (2017 est.)
    Major infectious diseases field listing
    degree of risk: intermediate (2016)
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea (2016)
    vectorborne diseases: dengue fever (2016)

    note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus

    Obesity - adult prevalence rate field listing
    25.7% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 48
    Children under the age of 5 years underweight field listing
    1.1% (2008)
    country comparison to the world: 121
    Education expenditures field listing
    7.1% of GDP (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 19
    Literacy field listing
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2015 est.)
    total population: 97.8% (2015 est.)
    male: 97.7% (2015 est.)
    female: 97.8% (2015 est.)
    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) field listing
    total: 15 years (2015)
    male: 15 years (2015)
    female: 16 years (2015)
    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 field listing
    total: 20.6% (2017 est.)
    male: 17.6% (2017 est.)
    female: 25.9% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 61
  • Government :: Costa Rica
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: Republic of Costa Rica
    conventional short form: Costa Rica
    local long form: Republica de Costa Rica
    local short form: Costa Rica
    etymology: the name means "rich coast" in Spanish and was first applied in the early colonial period of the 16th century
    Government type field listing
    presidential republic
    Capital field listing
    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 field listing
    7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose
    Independence field listing
    15 September 1821 (from Spain)
    National holiday field listing
    Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
    Constitution field listing
    history: many previous; latest effective 8 November 1949 (2018)
    amendments: proposals require the signatures of at least 10 Legislative Assembly members or by petition of at least 5% of qualified voters; consideration of proposals requires two-thirds majority approval in each of 3 readings by the Assembly, followed by preparation of the proposal as a legislative bill and its approval by simple majority of the Assembly; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly membership; a referendum is required only if approved by at least two-thirds of the Assembly; amended many times, last in 2015 (2018)
    International law organization participation field listing
    accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    Citizenship field listing
    citizenship by birth: yes
    citizenship by descent only: yes
    dual citizenship recognized: yes
    residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age; universal and compulsory
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state: President Carlos ALVARADO Quesada (since 8 May 2018); First Vice President Epsy CAMPBELL Barr (since 8 May 2018); Second Vice President Marvin RODRIGUEZ Cordero (since 8 May 2018); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Carlos ALVARADO Quesada (since 8 May 2018); First Vice President Epsy CAMPBELL Barr (since 8 May 2018); Second Vice President Marvin RODRIGUEZ Cordero (since 8 May 2018)
    cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president
    elections/appointments: president and vice presidents directly elected on the same ballot by modified majority popular vote (40% threshold) for a 4-year term (eligible for non-consecutive terms); election last held on 4 February 2018 with a runoff on 1 April 2018 (next to be held in February 2022)
    election results: Carlos ALVARADO Quesada elected president in second round; percent of vote in first round - Fabricio ALVARADO Munoz (PRN) 25%; Carlos ALVARADO Quesada (PAC) 21.6%; Antonio ALVAREZ (PLN) 18.6%; Rodolfo PIZA (PUSC) 16%; Juan Diego CASTRO (PIN) 9.5%; Rodolfo HERNANDEZ (PRS) 4.9%, other 4.4%; percent of vote in second round - Carlos ALVARADO Quesada (PAC) 60.7%; Fabricio ALVARADO Munoz (PRN) 39.3%
    Legislative branch field listing
    description: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (57 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies - corresponding to the country's 7 provinces - by closed list proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)
    elections: last held on 4 February 2018 (next to be held in February 2022)
    election results: percent of vote by party - PLN 19.5%, PRN 18.2%, PAC 16.3%, PUSC 14.6%, PLN 7.7%, PRS 4.2%, PFA 4%, ADC 2.5%, ML 2.3%, PASE 2.3%, PNG 2.2%, other 6.2%; seats by party - PLN 17, PRN 14, PAC 10, PUSC 9, PLN 4, PRS 2, PFA 1
    Judicial branch field listing
    highest courts: Supreme Court of Justice (consists of 22 judges organized into 3 cassation chambers each with 5 judges and the Constitutional Chamber with 7 judges)
    judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court of Justice judges elected by the National Assembly for 8-year terms with renewal decided by the National Assembly
    subordinate courts: appellate courts; trial courts; first instance and justice of the peace courts; Superior Electoral Tribunal
    Political parties and leaders field listing
    Accessibility Without Exclusion or PASE [Oscar Andres LOPEZ Arias]
    Broad Front (Frente Amplio) or PFA [Ana Patricia MORA Castellanos]
    Christian Democratic Alliance or ADC [Mario REDONDO Poveda]
    Citizen Action Party or PAC [Marcia GONZALEZ Aguiluz]
    Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Gonzalo Alberto RAMIREZ Zamora]
    Libertarian Movement Party or ML [Victor Danilo CUBERO Corrales]
    National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes]
    National Liberation Party or PLN [Jorge Julio PATTONI Saenz]
    National Restoration Party or PRN [Carlos Luis AVENDANO Calvo]
    New Generation or PNG [Sergio MENA]
    Patriotic Alliance [Jorge ARAYA Westover]
    Social Christian Republican Party or PRS [Dragos DOLANESCU Valenciano]
    Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Pedro MUNOZ Fonseca]
    International organization participation field listing
    BCIE, CACM, CD, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS, OIF (observer), OPANAL, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
    Diplomatic representation in the US field listing
    chief of mission: Ambassador Fernando LLORCA Castro (since 17 September 2018)
    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 York, Washington DC
    consulate(s): Saint Paul (MN), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Tucson (AZ)
    Diplomatic representation from the US field listing
    chief of mission: Ambassador Sharon DAY (since 5 October 2017)
    embassy: Calle 98 Via 104, Pavas, San Jose
    mailing address: APO AA 34020
    telephone: [506] 2519-2000
    FAX: [506] 2519-2305
    Flag description field listing
    five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white elliptical disk placed 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

    note: somewhat resembles the flag of North Korea; similar to the flag of Thailand but with the blue and red colors reversed

    National symbol(s) field listing
    yiguirro (clay-colored robin); national colors: blue, white, red
    National anthem field listing
    name: "Himno Nacional de Costa Rica" (National Anthem of Costa Rica)
    lyrics/music: Jose Maria ZELEDON Brenes/Manuel Maria GUTIERREZ

    note: adopted 1949; the anthem's music was originally written for an 1853 welcome ceremony for diplomatic missions from the US and UK; the lyrics were added in 1903

  • Economy :: Costa Rica
  • Economy - overview field listing

    Since 2010, Costa Rica has enjoyed strong and stable economic growth - 3.8% in 2017. Exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are the backbone of its commodity exports. Various industrial and processed agricultural products have broadened exports in recent years, as have high value-added goods, including medical devices. Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity also makes it a key destination for ecotourism.

    Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the free-trade zones; Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. The US-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which became effective for Costa Rica in 2009, helped increase foreign direct investment in key sectors of the economy, including insurance and telecommunication. However, poor infrastructure, high energy costs, a complex bureaucracy, weak investor protection, and uncertainty of contract enforcement impede greater investment.

    Costa Rica’s economy also faces challenges due to a rising fiscal deficit, rising public debt, and relatively low levels of domestic revenue. Poverty has remained around 20-25% for nearly 20 years, and the government’s strong social safety net has eroded due to increased constraints on its expenditures. Costa Rica’s credit rating was downgraded from stable to negative in 2015 and again in 2017, upping pressure on lending rates - which could hurt small business, on the budget deficit - which could hurt infrastructure development, and on the rate of return on investment - which could soften foreign direct investment (FDI). Unlike the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is not highly dependent on remittances - which represented just 1 % of GDP in 2016, but instead relies on FDI - which accounted for 5.1% of GDP.

    GDP (purchasing power parity) field listing
    $83.94 billion (2017 est.)
    $81.27 billion (2016 est.)
    $77.96 billion (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 93
    GDP (official exchange rate) field listing
    $58.27 billion (2017 est.) (2017 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate field listing
    3.3% (2017 est.)
    4.2% (2016 est.)
    3.6% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 104
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $16,900 (2017 est.)
    $16,600 (2016 est.)
    $16,100 (2015 est.)

    note: data are in 2017 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 104
    Gross national saving field listing
    15.1% of GDP (2017 est.)
    16.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
    15% of GDP (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    GDP - composition, by end use field listing
    household consumption: 64.2% (2017 est.)
    government consumption: 17.3% (2017 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 17.1% (2017 est.)
    investment in inventories: 1% (2017 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 33.3% (2017 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -32.9% (2017 est.)
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin field listing
    agriculture: 5.5% (2017 est.)
    industry: 20.6% (2017 est.)
    services: 73.9% (2017 est.)
    Agriculture - products field listing
    bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy; timber
    Industries field listing
    medical equipment, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
    Industrial production growth rate field listing
    1.3% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Labor force field listing
    2.229 million (2017 est.)

    note: official estimate; excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica

    country comparison to the world: 121
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    agriculture: 14%
    industry: 22%
    services: 64% (2006 est.)
    Unemployment rate field listing
    8.1% (2017 est.)
    9.5% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 117
    Population below poverty line field listing
    21.7% (2014 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
    lowest 10%: 36.9% (2014 est.)
    highest 10%: 36.9% (2014 est.)
    Distribution of family income - Gini index field listing
    48.5 (2014)
    49.2 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 22
    Budget field listing
    revenues: 8.357 billion (2017 est.)
    expenditures: 11.92 billion (2017 est.)
    Taxes and other revenues field listing
    14.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 200
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) field listing
    -6.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 185
    Public debt field listing
    48.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
    44.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 105
    Fiscal year field listing
    calendar year
    Inflation rate (consumer prices) field listing
    1.6% (2017 est.)
    0% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    Central bank discount rate field listing
    3.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
    21.5% (31 December 2010)
    country comparison to the world: 102
    Commercial bank prime lending rate field listing
    11.37% (31 December 2017 est.)
    11.64% (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 71
    Stock of narrow money field listing
    $5.356 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $5.63 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Stock of broad money field listing
    $5.356 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $5.63 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 103
    Stock of domestic credit field listing
    $41.04 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $38.21 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 69
    Market value of publicly traded shares field listing
    $2.015 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    $1.443 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $1.445 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 99
    Current account balance field listing
    -$1.692 billion (2017 est.)
    -$1.326 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 160
    Exports field listing
    $10.81 billion (2017 est.)
    $10.15 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 92
    Exports - partners field listing
    US 40.9%, Belgium 6.3%, Panama 5.6%, Netherlands 5.6%, Nicaragua 5.1%, Guatemala 5% (2017)
    Exports - commodities field listing
    bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; beef; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment
    Imports field listing
    $15.15 billion (2017 est.)
    $14.53 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 90
    Imports - commodities field listing
    raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials
    Imports - partners field listing
    US 38.1%, China 13.1%, Mexico 7.3% (2017)
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold field listing
    $7.15 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $7.574 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    Debt - external field listing
    $26.83 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $24.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    Stock of direct foreign investment - at home field listing
    $33.92 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $31.84 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad field listing
    $4.007 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $3.781 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    Exchange rates field listing
    Costa Rican colones (CRC) per US dollar -
    573.5 (2017 est.)
    544.74 (2016 est.)
    544.74 (2015 est.)
    534.57 (2014 est.)
    538.32 (2013 est.)
  • Energy :: Costa Rica
  • Electricity access field listing
    population without electricity: 24,362 (2013)
    electrification - total population: 99.5% (2013)
    electrification - urban areas: 99.9% (2013)
    electrification - rural areas: 98.3% (2013)
    Electricity - production field listing
    10.79 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Electricity - consumption field listing
    9.812 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 98
    Electricity - exports field listing
    643 million kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    Electricity - imports field listing
    807 million kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 72
    Electricity - installed generating capacity field listing
    3.584 million kW (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 94
    Electricity - from fossil fuels field listing
    18% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 196
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 72
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants field listing
    64% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 25
    Electricity - from other renewable sources field listing
    18% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 48
    Crude oil - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 123
    Crude oil - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 109
    Crude oil - imports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 115
    Crude oil - proved reserves field listing
    0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 120
    Refined petroleum products - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 134
    Refined petroleum products - consumption field listing
    53,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Refined petroleum products - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Refined petroleum products - imports field listing
    51,320 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 80
    Natural gas - production field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 120
    Natural gas - consumption field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 136
    Natural gas - exports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 88
    Natural gas - imports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 111
    Natural gas - proved reserves field listing
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 125
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy field listing
    7.653 million Mt (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 120
  • Communications :: Costa Rica
  • Telephones - fixed lines field listing
    total subscriptions: 843,148 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 17 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    Telephones - mobile cellular field listing
    total subscriptions: 8,840,342 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 179 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 88
    Telephone system field listing
    general assessment: good domestic telephone service in terms of breadth of coverage; in recent years growth has been achieve from liberalistion of the telecom sector and has seen substantial expansion in all sectors; Costa Rica's broadband market is the most advanced in Central America, with the highest broadband penetration for this sub-region; broadband penetration does lag behind many South American countries; with the implementation of number portability there is greater opportunity for increased competition in the future (2017)
    domestic: point-to-point and point-to-multi-point microwave, fiber-optic, and coaxial cable link rural areas; Internet service is available; 17 per 100 fixed-line, 179 per 100 mobile-cellular (2017)
    international: country code - 506; landing points for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1), MAYA-1, and the Pan American Crossing submarine cables that provide links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2015)
    Broadcast media field listing
    multiple privately owned TV stations and 1 publicly owned TV station; cable network services are widely available; more than 100 privately owned radio stations and a public radio network (2017)
    Internet country code field listing
    .cr
    Internet users field listing
    total: 3,217,277 (July 2016 est.)
    percent of population: 66% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 95
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions field listing
    total: 744,059 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 15 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 74
  • Transportation :: Costa Rica
  • National air transport system field listing
    number of registered air carriers: 1 (2015)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 39 (2015)
    annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,617,075 (2015)
    annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 9,284,160 mt-km (2015)
    Civil aircraft registration country code prefix field listing
    TI (2016)
    Airports field listing
    161 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 35
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 47 (2017)
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2017)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2017)
    914 to 1,523 m: 27 (2017)
    under 914 m: 16 (2017)
    Airports - with unpaved runways field listing
    total: 114 (2013)
    914 to 1,523 m: 18 (2013)
    under 914 m: 96 (2013)
    Pipelines field listing
    662 km refined products (2013)
    Railways field listing
    total: 278 km (2014)
    narrow gauge: 278 km 1.067-m gauge (2014)

    note: the entire rail network fell into disrepair and out of use at the end of the 20th century; since 2005, certain sections of rail have been rehabilitated

    country comparison to the world: 123
    Roadways field listing
    total: 39,018 km (2010)
    paved: 10,133 km (2010)
    unpaved: 28,885 km (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 90
    Waterways field listing
    730 km (seasonally navigable by small craft) (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 74
    Merchant marine field listing
    total: 10 (2017)
    by type: general cargo 2, other 8 (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Ports and terminals field listing
    major seaport(s): Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean) - Puerto Limon
    Pacific Ocean - Caldera
  • Military and Security :: Costa Rica
  • Military branches field listing
    no regular military forces; Ministry of Public Security, Government, and Police (2011)
  • Transnational Issues :: Costa Rica
  • Disputes - international field listing
    Costa Rica and Nicaragua regularly file border dispute cases over the delimitations of the San Juan River and the northern tip of Calero Island to the International Court of Justice (ICJ); in 2009, the ICJ ruled that Costa Rican vessels carrying out police activities could not use the river, but official Costa Rican vessels providing essential services to riverside inhabitants and Costa Rican tourists could travel freely on the river; in 2011, the ICJ provisionally ruled that both countries must remove personnel from the disputed area; in 2013, the ICJ rejected Nicaragua's 2012 suit to halt Costa Rica's construction of a highway paralleling the river on the grounds of irreparable environmental damage; in 2013, the ICJ, regarding the disputed territory, ordered that Nicaragua should refrain from dredging or canal construction and refill and repair damage caused by trenches connecting the river to the Caribbean and upheld its 2010 ruling that Nicaragua must remove all personnel; in early 2014, Costa Rica brought Nicaragua to the ICJ over offshore oil concessions in the disputed region
    Refugees and internally displaced persons field listing
    refugees (country of origin): 9,655 (Venezuela) (economic and political crisis; includes Venezuelans who have claimed asylum or have received alternative legal stay) (2018)
    stateless persons: 71 (2017)
    Trafficking in persons field listing
    current situation: Costa Rica is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; Costa Rican women and children, as well as those from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries, are sex trafficked in Costa Rica; child sex tourism is a particular problem with offenders coming from the US and Europe; men and children from Central America, including indigenous Panamanians, and Asia are exploited in agriculture, construction, fishing, and commerce; Nicaraguans transit Costa Rica to reach Panama, where some are subjected to forced labor or sex trafficking
    tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Costa Rica does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts declined in 2014, with fewer prosecutions and no convictions and no actions taken against complicit government personnel; some officials conflated trafficking with smuggling, and authorities reported the diversion of funds to combat smuggling hindered anti-trafficking efforts; the government identified more victims than the previous year but did not make progress in ensuring that victims received adequate protective services; specialized services were limited and mostly provided by NGOs without government support, even from a dedicated fund for anti-trafficking efforts; victims services were virtually non-existent outside of the capital (2015)
    Illicit drugs field listing
    transshipment country for cocaine and heroin from South America; illicit production of cannabis in remote areas; domestic cocaine consumption, particularly crack cocaine, is rising; significant consumption of amphetamines; seizures of smuggled cash in Costa Rica and at the main border crossing to enter Costa Rica from Nicaragua have risen in recent years