Costa Rica

Costa Rica

The Republic of Costa Rica is the most democratic country of Central and South America. Costa Rica, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, lies between Nicaragua and Panama. The geographical area is 51,100 square kilometers (19,652 square miles) or about the size of West Virginia.

The seven provinces are Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, and San Jose. The population is 4,509,290 persons with 59% of the inhabitants living in the Central Valley. The official language is Spanish. Local currency is the Colon, named after Christopher Columbus. The official religion is Roman Catholic, with the freedom of expression of other beliefs.

The executive responsibilities are vested in the President, Laura Chincilla, who was elected on February 7, 2010. She is the first woman to be elected President. She and two Vice Presidents hold a 4-year term. Fifty-seven Legislative Assembly deputies are also elected for a 4-year term. Ex-presidents may run for reelection after they have been out of office for two presidential terms; deputies may run for reelection after sitting out for one term.

Costa Rica's people pride themselves in being a hospitable, peaceful, and gracious people. The army was abolished in 1949 and the country's emphasis was then placed on education. There are 6146 primary and secondary schools and 50 universities. The youth literacy rate is 98.3%. Primary education is obligatory; secondary education is available but not compulsory. The school year begins each February with mid-semester break the first two weeks in July. Classes end in mid December for summer vacation which coincides with the coffee harvest.

Main exports are electronic components, textiles, bananas, coffee, medical devices, pineapples, foliage and ornamentals, seafood and processed foods. The main industries are microprocessors, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products and tourism.

The Costa Rica Flag is formed by five horizontal stripes, the first and fifth are blue, the second and fourth are white, and the middle is a double red stripe with the Emblem.


The Emblem  has three volcanoes and a vast valley stretching between two oceans. In each of the oceans there is a merchant ship. In the horizon is a rising sun between the blue sky and the blue ocean. Seven stars forming an arch represent the seven provinces of the Republic. The crown is formed by a blue ribbon with the inscription, "America Central".

The national flower is the orchid, Guaria Morada. The Guanacaste tree is the national tree. The national bird is the Yiguirro (Turdus grayi) known for its whistles in melodic phrases.

One of the most representative handcrafted objects in Costa Rican culture is the Costa Rica Oxcart , drawn by a team of oxen. The oxcart was used during the colonial period for the transportation of sugar cane, tobacco and coffee and was a very important factor in the development of agricultural activity in Costa Rica.



View Map of Costa Rica