Monday, May 13, 2013

Country Profiles: Costa Rica

Costa Rica is located in Central America.
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. In 1949, 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.
CIA World Factbook
With an area of 51,100 sq km, it is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia.

Costa Rica shares a border with Nicaragua and Panama. It is mostly coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major volcanoes.

People who live in Costa Rica are called Costa Rican, which is also an adjective used to describe something from this country. Based on the July 2013 estimates, there are 4,695,942 people in Costa Rica. The ethnic groups that reside in Costa Rica are mostly white (including mestizo, 94%), with some black (3%), Amerindian (1%) and Chinese (1%). Spanish is the official language of Costa Rical; English is also spoken there. Roman Catholics make up approximately 76.3% of the population, while Evangelicals (13.7%) and Jehovah's Witnesses (1.3%) make up most of the rest.

The country's official name is the Republic of Costa Rica (Republica of Costa Rica). The capital is San Jose, and the country is made up of 7 provinces. Though Costa Rica gained independence from the Spain on September 15, 1821, a constitution was not drafted until November 7, 1949. The constitution can be found here through Constitution Finder. The current president is Laura Chinchilla Miranda. Information about the leaders of Costa Rica's government can be found here. The currency is the Costa Rican colones(abbreviated CRC), which stands at 504.5 CRC per USD as of 2012.

All of this information was gathered from the CIA World Factbook. For more information, check out these resources...

Costa Rica President's Site

Costa Rica, CIA World Factbook

Background Notes: Costa Rica, U.S. Department of State

2012 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Costa Rica, U.S. Department of State.

You can also check out the Country Studies tab on our Fed Docs libguide here for more resources on all of the countries.

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