Costa Rica Facts

Costa Rica is a developing nation in Central America

Some Background Information:
Spain explored Costa Rica in the early 16th century, but were unable to colonize it due to an inhospitable environment found along the Caribbean coastal zone. A permanent settlement was finally established in 1563 in the highlands of Cartago. This cool, fertile area remained a colony of Spain for 2½ centuries. Costa Rica, with many other Spanish provinces declared independence from Spain in 1821 and shortly thereafter formed the United Provinces of Central America. The federation disintegrated in 1838 and Costa Rica declared its sovereignty and independence. The armed forces of Costa Rica was abolished in 1949 after a brief civil war. The economy of Costa Rica is strong in agriculture and has rapidly expanded in the past few years into the fields of technology and the tourism industries.

Geography :
Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama

total: 51,100 sq km, or 19,801 sq miles, just about the size of West Virginia

The climate is tropical and subtropical. The dry season, referred to as Summer, or High Season is from December to April. The rainy season, referred to as Winter or Green Season is from May to November. There are about 12 micro climates in Costa Rica and the temperature in each of the climates will differ. Generally, they will range from 60s to the 80s. It it not unusual to find overnight temperatures dropping down into the 40s or 50s in the cooler highlands and beach temperatures frequently climb into the upper 90s.

The coastal plains are separated by rugged mountains, which include over 100 volcanic cones. Several are major volcanoes and some of them are active today (2012)

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 meters, or 12,500 feet

Natural resources:

Natural hazards:
There are occasional earthquakes. The lowlands are prone to frequent flooding during the rainy season and these rains can also cause landslides in mountainous terrain. There are many active volcanoes in Costa Rica. Arenal (elev. 1,670 m), erupted in 2010, was the most active volcano in Costa Rica, but it has been quiet for the past couple of years. Back in 1968 the town of Tabacon was totally destroyed and the population was relocated to a new town called Nuevo Arenal. Irazu (elev. 3,432 m), situated just east of San Jose, spewed ash over the capital city of San José from 1963 to 1965. Some of the other historically active volcanoes include Miravalles, Poas, Rincon de la Vieja, and Turrialba. Turrialba has shown more activity than any of the others recently (2012)

People and Society:
Nationality: Costa Rican(s) are known as Ticos
Languages: Spanish (official), English
Religions: Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%
Population: 4,636,348 (July 2012 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
Total population: 77.89 years

Education expenditures:
6.3% of GDP (2009) compared to only 5.5% in the United States. Costa Rica ranks at 24 in comparison to the world; whereas the U.S. ranks way down at 44.

Government Type:
Democratic republic

San José, with geographic coordinates: 9 56 N, 84 05 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

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

15 September 1821 (from Spain)

7 November 1949

Legal system:
The civil law system is based on Spanish civil code; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court. Civil law is very different from common law, as practiced in the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Flag description:
The flag has five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white elliptical disk 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 bird:
Clay-colored robin known as Yiguirro

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