The World Factbook (1990)/Costa Rica

Costa Rica

World Factbook (1990) Costa Rica.jpg

 See regional map III


Total area: 51,100 km²; land area: 50,660 km²; includes Isla del Coco

Comparative area: slightly smaller than West Virginia

Land boundaries: 639 km total; Nicaragua 309 km, Panama 330 km

Coastline: 1,290 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: 200 nm
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November)

Terrain: coastal plains separated by rugged mountains

Natural resources: hydropower potential

Land use: 6% arable land; 7% permanent crops; 45% meadows and pastures; 34% forest and woodland; 8% other; includes 1% irrigated

Environment: subject to occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season; active volcanoes; deforestation; soil erosion


Population: 3,032,795 (July 1990), growth rate 2.6% (1990)

Birth rate: 28 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 4 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 2 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 16 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 74 years male, 79 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 3.3 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Costa Rican(s); adjective—Costa Rican

Ethnic divisions: 96% white (including mestizo), 2% black, 1% Indian, 1% Chinese

Religion: 95% Roman Catholic

Language: Spanish (official), English spoken around Puerto Límon

Literacy: 93%

Labor force: 868,300; industry and commerce 35.1%, government and services 33%, agriculture 27%, other 4.9% (1985 est.)

Organized labor: 15.1% of labor force


Long-form name: Republic of Costa Rica

Type: democratic republic

Capital: San José

Administrative divisions: 7 provinces (provincias, singular—provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas, San José

Independence: 15 September 1821 (from Spain)

Constitution: 9 November 1949

Legal system: based on Spanish civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Executive branch: president, two vice presidents, Cabinet

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly (Asamblea Legislativa)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Corte Suprema)

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Rafael Angel CALDERÓN Fournier (since 8 May 1990); First Vice President German SERRANO Pinto (since 8 May 1990); Second Vice President Arnoldo LOPEZ Echandi (since 8 May 1990)

Political parties and leaders: National Liberation Party (PLN), Carlos Manuel Castillo; Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), Rafael Angel Calderón Fournier; Marxist Popular Vanguard Party (PVP), Humberto Vargas Carbonell; New Republic Movement (MNR), Sergio Erick Ardón; Progressive Party (PP), Javier Solis; People's Party of Costa Rica (PPC), Lenin Chacon Vargas; Radical Democratic Party (PRD), Juan José Echeverría Brealey

Suffrage: universal and compulsory at age 18

Elections: President—last held 4 February 1990 (next to be held February 1994); results—Rafael Calderón Fournier 51%, Carlos Manuel Castillo 47%;

Legislative Assembly—last held 4 February 1990 (next to be held February 1994); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(57 total) PUSC 29, PLN 25, PVP/PPC 1, regional parties 2

Communists: 7,500 members and sympathizers

Other political or pressure groups: Costa Rican Confederation of Democratic Workers (CCTD; Liberation Party affiliate), Confederated Union of Workers (CUT; Communist Party affiliate), Authentic Confederation of Democratic Workers (CATD; Communist Party affiliate), Chamber of Coffee Growers, National Association for Economic Development (ANFE), Free Costa Rica Movement (MCRL; rightwing militants), National Association of Educators (ANDE)

Member of: CACM, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICO, IDA, IDB—Inter-American Development Bank, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, IPU, ITU, IWC—International Wheat Council, OAS, ODECA, PAHO, SELA, UN, UNESCO, UPEB, UPU, WHO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Danilo JIMENEZ; Chancery at Suite 211, 1825 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC 20009; telephone (202) 234-2945 through 2947; there are Costa Rican Consulates General at Albuquerque, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), and Tampa, and Consulates in Austin, Buffalo, Honolulu, and Raleigh; US—Ambassador (vacant); Embassy at Pavas Road, San Jose (mailing address is APO Miami 34020); telephone [506] 33-11-55

Flag: five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue with the coat of arms in a white disk on the hoist side of the red band


Overview: In 1988 the economy grew at a 3.8% rate, a drop from the 5.1% of the previous year. Gains in agricultural production (on the strength of good coffee and banana crops) and in construction, were partially offset by declines in the rates of growth for the industry and commerce sectors. In 1988 consumer prices rose by nearly 21% followed by a 10% rise in 1989. Unemployment is officially reported at about 6%, but much underemployment remains. External debt, on a per capita basis, is among the world's highest.

GDP: $4.7 billion, per capita $1,630; real growth rate 3.8% (1988)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10% (1989)

Unemployment rate: 5.5% (March 1989)

Budget: revenues $719 million; expenditures $808 million, including capital expenditures of $103 million (1988)

Exports: $1.3 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—coffee, bananas, textiles, sugar; partners—US 75%, FRG, Guatemala, Netherlands, UK, Japan

Imports: $1.4 billion (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—petroleum, machinery, consumer durables, chemicals, fertilizer, food-stuffs; partners—US 35%, Japan, Guatemala, FRG

External debt: $4.5 billion (1989)

Industrial production: growth rate 2.1% (1988)

Electricity: 909,000 kW capacity; 2,928 million kWh produced, 990 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer

Agriculture: accounts for 20-25% of GDP and 70% of exports; cash commodities—coffee, beef, bananas, sugar; other food crops include corn, rice, beans, potatotes; normally self-sufficient in food except for grain; depletion of forest resources resulting in lower timber output

Illicit drugs: illicit production of cannabis on small scattered plots; transshipment country for cocaine from South America

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $1.3 billion; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $706 million; Communist countries (1971-88), $27 million

Currency: Costa Rican colón (plural—colones); 1 Costa Rican colón (C) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Costa Rican colones (C) per US$1—84.689 (January 1990), 81.504 (1989), 75.805 (1988), 62.776 (1987), 55.986 (1986), 50.453 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 950 km total, all 1.067-meter gauge; 260 km electrified

Highways: 15,400 km total; 7,030 km paved, 7,010 km gravel, 1,360 km unimproved earth

Inland waterways: about 730 km, seasonally navigable

Pipelines: refined products, 176 km

Ports: Puerto Limon, Caldera, Golfito, Moin, Puntarenas

Merchant marine: 2 cargo ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,279 GRT/6,602 DWT

Civil air: 9 major transport aircraft

Airports: 193 total, 177 usable; 25 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 11 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: very good domestic telephone service; 292,000 telephones; connection into Central American Microwave System; stations—71 AM, no FM, 18 TV, 13 shortwave; 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: Civil Guard, Rural Assistance Guard; note—Constitution prohibits armed forces

Military manpower: males 15-49, 785,429; 530,986 fit for military service; 31,899 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 0.6% of GDP (1987)