Costa Rica is a Central American success story: since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development. Although still a largely agricultural country, it has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism sectors. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.
7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas, San José. Independence:
15 September 1821 (from Spain). National holiday: Independence Day, 15 September. Constitution: 7 November 1949. Legal system: Based on Spanish civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Terrain, Natural Resources, Land Use
Coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major volcanoes, Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Chirripó 3,810 m. Natural resources: Hydropower, Fruits, Plants, Gold. Land use: Arable land: 4.41%, permanent crops: 5.88%, other: 89.71% (2001).
Environment - International Agreements
Party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling. Signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation.
International Disputes, Illicit Drugs, Stealing and Korruption
A legal dispute over navigational rights of Rio San Juan on the border with Nicaragua remains unresolved. Transshipment country for cocaine and heroin from South America; illicit production of cannabis on small, scattered plots; domestic cocaine consumption, particularly crack cocaine, is rising. Stealing and Korruption is widely practiced, across all social levels and state employees.