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 from Indigenous populations, 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 was one of several Central American provinces that jointly declared 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. General Federico TINOCO Granados led a coup in 1917, but the threat of US intervention pushed him to resign in 1919. In 1948, landowner Jose FIGUERES Ferrer raised his own army and rebelled against the government. The brief civil war ended with an agreement to allow FIGUERES to remain in power for 18 months, then step down in favor of the previously elected Otilio ULATE. FIGUERES was later elected twice in his own right, in 1953 and 1970.

Costa Rica experienced destabilizing waves of refugees from Central American civil wars in the 1970s and 1980s, but peace in the region has since helped the economy rebound.  Although it still maintains a large agricultural sector, Costa Rica has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism industries.

 

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

comparison ranking: total 129

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than West Virginia

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

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

highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,819 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 746 m

Land use

agricultural land: 37.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 4.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 6.7% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 25.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 51.5% (2018 est.)

other: 11.4% (2018 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

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

Population

5,256,612 (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 124

Nationality

noun: Costa Rican(s)

adjective: Costa Rican

Ethnic groups

White or Mestizo 83.6%, Mulatto 6.7%, Indigenous 2.4%, Black or African descent 1.1%, other 1.1%, none 2.9%, unspecified 2.2% (2011 est.)

Languages

Spanish (official), English

major-language sample(s):
La Libreta Informativa del Mundo, la fuente indispensable de información básica. (Spanish)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Spanish audio file:

Religions

Roman Catholic 47.5%, Evangelical and Pentecostal 19.8%, Jehovah's Witness 1.4%, other Protestant 1.2%, other 3.1%, none 27% (2021 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: 21.49% (male 577,782/female 552,041)

15-64 years: 68.59% (male 1,813,827/female 1,791,510)

65 years and over: 9.92% (2023 est.) (male 238,971/female 282,481)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 45.1

youth dependency ratio: 29.8

elderly dependency ratio: 15.3

potential support ratio: 6.5 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 35 years (2023 est.)

male: 34.4 years

female: 35.6 years

comparison ranking: total 96

Population growth rate

0.72% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 124

Birth rate

10.7 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 175

Death rate

5.5 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 186

Net migration rate

2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 53

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: 82.6% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.5% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

1.462 million SAN JOSE (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

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

15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

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

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

22 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 118

Infant mortality rate

total: 7 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 7.4 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.6 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 157

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 79.6 years (2023 est.)

male: 77 years

female: 82.4 years

comparison ranking: total population 61

Total fertility rate

1.4 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 211

Gross reproduction rate

0.68 (2023 est.)

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 (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

7.9% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

3.3 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

1.1 beds/1,000 population (2019)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 99% of population

rural: 97.1% of population

total: 98.7% of population

unimproved: urban: 1% of population

rural: 2.9% of population

total: 1.3% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

25.7% (2016)

comparison ranking: 48

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 3.07 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 2.17 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.15 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.36 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.39 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 113

Tobacco use

total: 8.8% (2020 est.)

male: 12.9% (2020 est.)

female: 4.6% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 140

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 2%

women married by age 18: 17.1% (2018 est.)

Education expenditures

6.7% of GDP (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 26

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 98%

male: 98%

female: 98.1% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 17 years

male: 16 years

female: 17 years (2019)

Environment

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, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Climate

tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands

Land use

agricultural land: 37.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 4.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 6.7% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 25.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 51.5% (2018 est.)

other: 11.4% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 82.6% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.5% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0.82% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 58

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 152

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 14.7 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 8.02 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 5.61 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 1.46 million tons (2014 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 18,396 tons (2014 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 1.3% (2014 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 830 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 230 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 2.08 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

113 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Costa Rica

conventional short form: Costa Rica

local long form: República 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 José

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 2020

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 Rodrigo CHAVES Robles (since 8 May 2022); First Vice President Stephan BRUNNER Neibig (since 8 May 2022); Second Vice President Mary Denisse MUNIVE Angermuller (since 8 May 2022); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Rodrigo CHAVES Robles (since 8 May 2022); First Vice President Stephan BRUNNER Neibig (since 8 May 2022); Second Vice President Mary Denisse MUNIVE Angermuller (since 8 May 2022)

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 6 February 2022 with a runoff on 3 April 2022 (next to be held in February 2026 with a runoff in April 2026)

election results:
2022: Rodrigo CHAVES Robles elected president in second round; percent of vote in first round - Jose Maria FIGUERES Olsen (PLN) 27.3%, Rodrigo CHAVES Robles (PPSD) 16.8%, Fabricio ALVARADO Munoz (PNR) 14.9%, Eliecer FEINZAIG Mintz (PLP) 12.4%, Lineth SABORIO Chaverri (PUSC) 12.4%, Jose Maria VILLALTA Florez-Estrada 8.7% (PFA), other 7.5%; percent of vote in second round - Rodrigo CHAVES Robles (PPSD) 52.8%, Jose Maria FIGUERES Olsen (PLN) 47.2%

2018: 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 (PRSC) 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 party-list proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 6 February 2022 (next to be held in February 2026)

election results: percent of vote by party - PLN 24.8%, PPSD 15%, PUSC 11.4%, PNR 10.1%, PLP 9.1%, 8.3%, other 21.3%; seats by party - PLN 19, PPSD 10, PUSC 9, PNR 7, PLP 6, PFA 6; composition - men 30, women 27, percent of women 47.4%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): 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]
Citizen Action Party or PAC [Fabian SOLANO Fernandez]
Costa Rican Renewal Party or PRC [Justo OROZCO Alvarez]
Here Costa Rica Commands Party or ACRM [Federico CRUZ Saravanja]
Liberal Progressive Party or PLP [Eliecer FEINZAIG Mintz]
Libertarian Movement Party or ML [Victor Danilo CUBERO Corrales]
National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes]
National Liberation Party or PLN [Ricardo SANCHO Chavarría]
National Restoration Party or PRN [Carlos Luis AVENDANO Calvo]
New Generation or PNG [Rodolfo SOLIS Herrera]
New Republic Party or PNR [Fabricio ALVARADO Muñoz]
Social Christian Republican Party or PRSC [Otto ROBERTO Vargas]
Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC of UNIDAD [Juan Carlos HIDALGO Bogantes]
Social Democratic Progress Party or PPSD [Luz Mary ALPIZAR Loaiza]

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 Catalina CRESPO SANCHO (since 19 April 2023)

chancery: 2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 499-2980

FAX: [1] (202) 265-4795

email address and website:
embcr-us@rree.go.cr

http://www.costarica-embassy.org/index.php?q=node/21

consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Washington DC

honorary consulate(s): San Juan (Puerto Rico), Saint Paul (MN), Tucson (AZ)

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Cynthia A. TELLES (since 11 March 2022)

embassy: Calle 98 Via 104, Pavas, San Jose

mailing address: 3180 St. George's Place, Washington DC  20521-3180

telephone: [506] 2519-2000

FAX: [506] 2519-2305

email address and website:
acssanjose@state.gov

https://cr.usembassy.gov/

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

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 4 (1 cultural, 3 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Guanacaste Conservation Area (n); Cocos Island National Park (n); Precolumbian Stone Spheres (c); La Amistad International Park (n)

Economy

Economic overview

trade-based upper middle-income economy; green economy leader, having reversed deforestation; investing in blue economy infrastructure; declining poverty until hard impacts of COVID-19; lingering inequality and growing government debts have prompted a liquidity crisis

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$114.346 billion (2022 est.)
$109.368 billion (2021 est.)
$101.327 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 87

Real GDP growth rate

4.55% (2022 est.)
7.94% (2021 est.)
-4.27% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 93

Real GDP per capita

$22,100 (2022 est.)
$21,200 (2021 est.)
$19,800 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 89

GDP (official exchange rate)

$69.244 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

8.27% (2022 est.)
1.73% (2021 est.)
0.72% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 134

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B (2020)

Moody's rating: B2 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: B (2020)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 5.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 20.6% (2017 est.)

services: 73.9% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 53; industry 143; agriculture 125

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.)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, pineapples, bananas, milk, oil palm fruit, fruit, oranges, watermelons, cassava, rice

Industries

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

Industrial production growth rate

2.05% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 129

Labor force

2.543 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 118

Unemployment rate

11.32% (2022 est.)
15.14% (2021 est.)
16.43% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 173

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 45.4% (2021 est.)

male: 37%

female: 56.3%

comparison ranking: total 6

Population below poverty line

25.5% (2022 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

47.2 (2022 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 17

Average household expenditures

on food: 25.7% of household expenditures (2018 est.)

on alcohol and tobacco: 1.2% of household expenditures (2018 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.7%

highest 10%: 35.7% (2022 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population

Remittances

0.9% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.91% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.84% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $9.664 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $14.001 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-6.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 185

Public debt

48.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
44.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 110

Taxes and other revenues

14% (of GDP) (2021 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 154

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$2.469 billion (2022 est.)
-$1.605 billion (2021 est.)
-$631.662 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 153

Exports

$28.692 billion (2022 est.)
$24.036 billion (2021 est.)
$19.995 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 80

Exports - partners

United States 38%, Netherlands 6%, Belgium 5%, Guatemala 5%, Panama 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

medical instruments, bananas, pineapples, orthopedic appliances, food preparations (2021)

Imports

$26.602 billion (2022 est.)
$21.94 billion (2021 est.)
$17.519 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 84

Imports - partners

United States 41%, China 13%, Mexico 7% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, broadcasting equipment, cars, medical instruments, packaged medicines (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$8.554 billion (2022 est.)
$6.921 billion (2021 est.)
$7.232 billion (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 80

Debt - external

$29.589 billion (2019 est.)
$28.553 billion (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 85

Exchange rates

Costa Rican colones (CRC) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
647.136 (2022 est.)
620.785 (2021 est.)
584.901 (2020 est.)
587.295 (2019 est.)
576.973 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 3.674 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 10,072,472,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 712 million kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 733 million kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 1,321,498,000 kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 100; transmission/distribution losses 112; imports 79; exports 67; consumption 101

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 0.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.6% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 12.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 71.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 14.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 1.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 400 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 63,300 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 171

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 164

Refined petroleum products - imports

51,320 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 80

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

8.115 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 1,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 8.114 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 111

Energy consumption per capita

44.899 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 103

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 491,613 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 11 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 92

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 7,834,435 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 152 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 102

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the fixed broadband market is one of the few parts of Costa Rica’s telecom sector to experience solid growth in recent years, both in size and revenue; the country’s fiber network expanded by 56% in 2020, reaching about 176,200km; fixed-line broadband traffic volume also increased by more than 30%, year-on-year;  other areas of the market have proven relatively lack luster, with slow or even negative growth; some of this can be attributed to the economic and social impacts of the pandemic, but the fixed-line and mobile sectors have both been struggling to produce decent results since well before the start of the crisis; the rollout of 5G network infrastructure in Costa Rica is unlikely to occur to any scale before 2023, but this may be one of the few remaining areas of opportunity open to investors outside of fixed-line internet and pay TV services (2021)

domestic: roughly 11 per 100 fixed-line and 152 per 100 mobile-cellular (2021)

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)

Broadcast media

over two dozen privately owned TV stations and 1 publicly owned TV station nationwide; cable network services are widely available; more than 100 privately owned radio stations and a public radio network (2022)

Internet users

total: 4.316 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 83% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 106

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 992,725 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 20 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 74

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 (2018) mt-km

Airports

129 (2024)

comparison ranking: 41

Heliports

8 (2024)

Pipelines

662 km refined products (2013)

Railways

total: 278 km (2014)

narrow gauge: 278 km (2014) 1.067-m gauge

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

comparison ranking: total 124

Roadways

total: 5,035 km (2017)

comparison ranking: total 150

Waterways

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

comparison ranking: 80

Merchant marine

total: 11 (2023)

by type: other 11

comparison ranking: total 157

Ports and terminals

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

container port(s) (TEUs): Puerto Limon (1,319,372)

Pacific Ocean - Caldera

Military and Security

Military and security forces

no regular military forces; Ministry of Public Security: National Police (Fuerza Pública), Air Surveillance Service (Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea), National Coast Guard Service (Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas), Drug Control Police (Policía Control de Drogas), Border Police (Policia de Fronteras), Professional Migration Police (Policía Profesional de Migración); Ministry of Presidency: Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Special Intervention Unit (UEI) (2024)

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

Military expenditures

0.6% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.7% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.7% of GDP (2020 est.)
0.7% of GDP (2019 est.)
0.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 151

Military and security service personnel strengths

15-17,000 Ministry of Public Security personnel (2024)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the National Police are lightly armed although small special units are trained and equipped for tactical operations; the US has provided equipment and support to forces such the National Coast Guard, including secondhand US vessels and aircraft (2024)

Military - note

Costa Rica relies on specialized paramilitary units within the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) for internal security missions and countering transnational threats such as narcotics smuggling and organized crime, as well as for participating in regional security operations and exercises; MPS forces have received advisory and training support from both Colombia and the US; since 2012, the US has also provided some military equipment, including aircraft and patrol boats (2024)

Space

Space agency/agencies

Costa Rican Space Agency (ACE; established 2021); ACE is a non-state, public entity subject to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Telecommunications (2023)

Space program overview

has a small, new program focused on promoting the use of space to develop the country’s economy and industry, including acquiring and utilizing satellites; has built a remote sensing (RS) cube satellite; has relations with the space agencies and commercial space industries of the US and members of the Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency (ALCE) (2023)

note: further details about the key activities, programs, and milestones of the country’s space program, as well as government spending estimates on the space sector, appear in Appendix S

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): 29,906 (Venezuela) (economic and political crisis; includes Venezuelans who have claimed asylum, are recognized as refugees, or received alternative legal stay) (2021)

stateless persons: 192 (2022)

Illicit drugs



Costa Rica remains a significant transshipment point for cocaine enroute to the United States from South America; a key transit point in international narcotics trafficking; transit and warehousing hub for illicit drug trafficking; growing domestic drug consumption problem; a major source of precursor or essential chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics