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Costa Rica

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Continent:America National flag
National flag: Costa Rica
Capital city:San José
Area:51,100 km2 ( 125. )
Population:4,016,173 Person ( 120. )
People density:79 Person / km2
GDP per capita:2,200 $ / Person ( 73. )
GDP:8,835,580,600 $
Official language:spanish


More detailed information about country

Hemmed in between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans near the narrowest point of the Central American isthmus, the tiny republic of Costa Rica is often pictured as an oasis of political stability in the midst of a turbulent region. This democratic and prosperous nation is also one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, an ecological treasure house whose varied habitats – ranging from rainforests and beaches to volcanoes and mangrove swamps – support a fascinating variety of wildlife, much of it now protected by an enlightened national conservation system which is widely regarded as a model of its kind.

Though this idyllic image might not do justice to the full complexities of contemporary Costa Rican society, it’s true that the country’s long democratic tradition and complete absence of military forces (the army was abolished in 1948) stand in sharp contrast to the brutal internal conflicts which have ravaged its neighbours, while the country has also largely escaped the natural disasters which have afflicted so many other Central American states. This reputation for peacefulness has been an important factor in the spectacular growth of Costa Rica’s tourist industry – up to a million visitors are expected to visit the country during the year 2002, mainly from North America. Most of all, though, it’s the country’s outstanding natural beauty which has made it one of the world’s prime eco-tourism destinations, with visitors coming to walk trails beneath the vaulting canopy trees of million-year-old rainforests; to climb the volcanoes that punctuate the country’s mountainous spine; or to explore the high-altitude cloudforest, home to the jaguar, the lumbering tapir and the resplendent quetzal.

Admittedly, tourism has made Costa Rica less of an "authentic" experience than some travellers would like: it’s hard to go anywhere in the country without bumping into white-water rafters or surfers, and more and more previously remote spots are being bought up by foreign entrepreneurs. Still, few Costa Ricans have anything bad to say about their country’s popularity with visitors – perhaps simply because they know which side their bread’s buttered. But as more hotels open, malls go up, and foreigners flock to the country, there’s no doubt the country is experiencing a significant social change, while the darker side of foreign involvement in the country – sex tourism, real-estate scams and conflicts between foreign property-owners and poorer locals – are all on the increase.

Costa Rica’s long democratic tradition and complete absence of military forces stand in sharp contrast to the brutal internal conflicts which have ravaged its neighbours

Despite such problems, revenue from tourism is one of the reasons Costa Ricans – or Ticos, as they are generally known – now enjoy the highest rate of literacy, health care, education and life expectancy in the isthmus. That said, Costa Rica is certainly not the middle-class country that it’s often portrayed to be – a significant percentage of people still live below the poverty line – and while it is modernizing fast, its character continues to be rooted in distinct local cultures, from the Afro-Caribbean province of Limón, with its Creole cuisine, games and patois, to the traditional ladino values embodied by the sabanero (cowboy) of Guanacaste. Above all, the country still has the highest rural population density in Latin America, and society continues to revolve around the twin axes of countryside and family: wherever you go, you’re sure to be left with mental snapshots of rural life, whether it be horsemen trotting by on dirt roads, coffee-plantation day-labourers setting off to work in the dawn mists of the Highlands, or avocado-pickers cycling home at sunset.

International codes

Map of country Costa Rica

Map of country  Costa Rica

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