Photos of Costa Rica

Introduction

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. 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.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

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

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Area

total: 51,100 sq km

land: 51,060 sq km

water: 40 sq km

note: includes Isla del Coco

country comparison to the world: 129

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than West Virginia

Land boundaries

total: 661 km

border countries (2): Nicaragua 313 km, Panama 348 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 active volcanoes

Elevation

mean elevation: 746 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,819 m

Land use

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

1,015 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

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

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

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

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Costa Rican(s)

adjective: Costa Rican

Ethnic groups

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

Spanish (official), English

Religions

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

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

0-14 years: 22.08% (male 575,731/female 549,802)

15-24 years: 15.19% (male 395,202/female 379,277)

25-54 years: 43.98% (male 1,130,387/female 1,111,791)

55-64 years: 9.99% (male 247,267/female 261,847)

65 years and over: 8.76% (male 205,463/female 241,221) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 45.1

youth dependency ratio: 30.2

elderly dependency ratio: 14.9

potential support ratio: 6.7 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 32.6 years

male: 32.1 years

female: 33.1 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 109

Birth rate

14.8 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 121

Death rate

4.9 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 197

Net migration rate

0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 62

Population distribution

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

urban population: 80.8% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 1.5% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

1.400 million SAN JOSE (capital) (2020)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

27 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 116

Infant mortality rate

total: 7.5 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 8.2 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 152

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 79.2 years

male: 76.5 years

female: 82 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 58

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

2.95 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

1.1 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 98.4% of population

rural: 95.8% of population

total: 97.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.6% of population

rural: 4.2% of population

total: 2.2% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<200 (2019 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 97.9%

male: 97.8%

female: 97.9% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 16 years

male: 17 years

female: 17 years (2019)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 20.6%

male: 17.6%

female: 25.9% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 63

Government

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

etymology: the name means "rich coast" in Spanish and was first applied in the early colonial period of the 16th century

Government type

presidential 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)

etymology: named in honor of Saint Joseph

Administrative divisions

7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose

Independence

15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday

Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution

history: many previous; latest effective 8 November 1949

amendments: proposals require the signatures of at least 10 Legislative Assembly members or petition of at least 5% of qualified voters; consideration of proposals requires two-thirds majority approval in each of three 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

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

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch

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

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%, PIN 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, PIN 4, PRS 2, PFA 1; composition - men 31, women 26, percent of women 45.6%

Judicial branch

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

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 [Marta Eugenia SOLANO Arias]
Costa Rican Renewal Party or PRC [Justo OROZCO Alvarez]
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

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

chief of mission: Ambassador Fernando LLORCA Castro (since 17 September 2018)

chancery: 2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 499-2980

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

chief of mission: Ambassador Sharon DAY (since 5 October 2017)

telephone: [506] 2519-2000

embassy: Calle 98 Via 104, Pavas, San Jose

mailing address: APO AA 34020

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 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)

yiguirro (clay-colored robin); national colors: blue, white, red

National anthem

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

Economic overview

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 real growth rate

3.3% (2017 est.)

4.2% (2016 est.)

3.6% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 90

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2% (2019 est.)

2.2% (2018 est.)

1.6% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 111

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B (2020)

Moody's rating: B2 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: B (2020)

GDP (purchasing power parity) - real

$83.94 billion (2017 est.)

$81.27 billion (2016 est.)

$77.96 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$61.855 billion (2019 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$16,900 (2017 est.)

$16,600 (2016 est.)

$16,100 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 85

Gross national saving

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 sector of origin

agriculture: 5.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 20.6% (2017 est.)

services: 73.9% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

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.)

Agriculture - products

bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy; timber

Industries

medical equipment, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products

Labor force

1.843 million (2020 est.)

note: official estimate; excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica

country comparison to the world: 123

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 14%

industry: 22%

services: 64% (2006 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.5%

highest 10%: 36.9% (2014 est.)

Budget

revenues: 8.357 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 11.92 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

48.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

44.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 105

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$1.692 billion (2017 est.)

-$1.326 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 163

Exports

$10.81 billion (2017 est.)

$10.15 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 94

Exports - partners

US 40.9%, Belgium 6.3%, Panama 5.6%, Netherlands 5.6%, Nicaragua 5.1%, Guatemala 5% (2017)

Exports - commodities

bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; beef; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment

Imports

$15.15 billion (2017 est.)

$14.53 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 93

Imports - commodities

raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials

Imports - partners

US 38.1%, China 13.1%, Mexico 7.3% (2017)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$7.15 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$7.574 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 86

Debt - external

$26.83 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$24.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 86

Exchange rates

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

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 630,386

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12.5 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 89

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 8,163,744

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 161.88 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 96

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: good domestic telephone service in terms of breadth of coverage; in recent years growth has been achieved from liberalization 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 (2018)

domestic: 13 per 100 fixed-line, 162 per 100 mobile-cellular; point-to-point and point-to-multi-point microwave, fiber-optic, and coaxial cable link rural areas; Internet service is available (2019)

international: country code - 506; landing points for the ARCOS-1, MAYA-1, and the PAC 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) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

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 users

total: 3,694,974

percent of population: 74.09% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 94

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 834,784

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 17 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 73

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 39

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,948,546 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 11.13 million mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

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

total: 114 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 18 (2013)

under 914 m: 96 (2013)

Pipelines

662 km refined products (2013)

Railways

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

Waterways

730 km (seasonally navigable by small craft) (2011)

country comparison to the world: 74

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean) - Puerto Limon

Pacific Ocean - Caldera

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; Ministry of Public Security commands the Public Forces of Costa Rica, which includes the Public Force (National Police), Anti-Drug Police, and National Coast Guard Service (2020)

note: Costa Rica's armed forces were constitutionally abolished in 1949

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Public Forces of Costa Rica have approximately 12,000 personnel (2019 est.)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Public Forces' inventory includes mostly second-hand US equipment; since 2000, the only reported major equipment deliveries were from the US (light helicopters in 2012 and 2014 and second-hand coast guard cutters in 2018) (2019 est.)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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

refugees (country of origin): 13,517 (Venezuela) (economic and political crisis; includes Venezuelans who have claimed asylum, are recognized as refugees, or received alternative legal stay) (2020)

stateless persons: 231 (2019)

Trafficking in persons

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

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