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Costa Rica

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Trip to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Barbados

Map of  Costa Rica Costa Rica
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U.S. Department of State Country Profile: Costa Rica
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, April 17, 1997.

Official Name: Republic of Costa Rica


Area: 51,032 sq. km. (19,652 sq. mi.); about twice the size of the state of Vermont.
Cities: Capital -- San Jose (metropolitan area population of 1.2 million).
Other major cities -- Alajuela (250,000), Puntarenas (300,000), Limon (150,000), Cartago (150,000).
Terrain: A rugged, central range separates the eastern and western coastal plains.
Climate: Mild in the central highlands, tropical and subtropical in coastal areas.

PEOPLE (July 1995)

Nationality: Noun and adjective -- Costa Rican(s).
Population: 3.3 million.
Annual growth rate: 2.4%
Ethnic groups: European and some mestizo 94%, African origin 3%, indigenous 1%.
Religion: Roman Catholic approx. 85%, Evangelical Protestant approx. 15%, Others: Less than 1%.
Languages: Spanish, with Jamaican dialect of English spoken around Puerto Limon.
Education: Years compulsory -- 9. Attendance--nearly 100%.
Literacy -- 94%.
Health: Infant mortality rate -- 13/1,000. Life expectancy -- men 72 years, women 76 years.
Work force (1995, 1.2 million): Services -- 45%. Agriculture -- 22%. Industry - 17%. Construction -- 6%. Transportation -- 5%. Banking and finance -- 4%.


Type: Democratic Republic.
Independence: September 15, 1821.
Constitution: November 7, 1949.
Branches: Executive -- President (Head of Government and Chief of State) elected for one four-year term, two Vice Presidents, Cabinet (19 ministers). Legislature -- 57-Deputy unicameral Legislative Assembly elected at four-year intervals. Judicial -- Supreme Court of Justice (22 magistrates elected by Legislative Assembly for renewable eight-year terms).
Subdivisions: Seven provinces, divided into 81 cantons, subdivided into 421 districts.
Political parties: National Liberation Party (PLN), Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), Democratic Force (FD) Agricultural Union Party of Cartago (PUAC), National Agrarian Party (PAN).
Suffrage: Obligatory at 18.


GDP (1995) $9.3 billion.
Real growth rate (1995) 2.5%.
Per capita income (1995): $2,964.
Natural resources: Hydroelectric power.
Industry (22% of GDP): Products-food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, petroleum refining. Agriculture (19% of GDP): Products -- bananas, coffee, beef, sugarcane, rice, vegetables, ornamental plants and fruits.
Commerce and tourism (40% of GDP): hotels, restaurants, tourist services, banks and insurance.
Foreign Trade (1995): Exports -- $2.6 billion: bananas, coffee, beef, textiles and clothing, fruits, sugar, flowers and ornamental plants. Major markets -- U.S. 42%, Europe 32%, Central America 16%, Japan 1%.
Imports--$3.3 billion: machinery, vehicles, consumer goods, chemicals, petroleum products, foods, fertilizer. Major suppliers -- U.S. 48%, Europe 28%, Japan 15%, Central America 5%.
Currency exchange rate: (Aug. 1996) 210 colones = $1.


President--Jose Maria FIGUERES Olsen
Foreign Minister--Fernando NARANJO Villalobos
Ambassador to the United States--Sonia PICADO Sotela
Ambassador to the OAS--Fernando HERRERO
Ambassador to the UN--Fernando BERROCAL

President Clinton's Trip to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Barbados

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Central America
May 1997

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Costa Rica