Costa Rica Facts

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Prior to the global economic crisis, Costa Rica enjoyed stable economic growth. The economy contracted 1.3% in 2009 but resumed growth at about 4.5% per year in 2010-12. While the traditional agricultural exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are still the backbone of commodity export trade, a variety of industrial and specialized agricultural products have broadened export trade in recent years. High value-added goods and services, including microchips, have further bolstered exports. Tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange, as Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity makes it a key destination for ecotourism. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the free-trade zones; and Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. However, many business impediments remain, such as high levels of bureaucracy, legal uncertainty due to overlapping and at times conflicting responsibilities between agencies, difficulty of enforcing contracts, and weak investor protection. Poverty has remained around 20-25% for nearly 20 years, and the strong social safety net that had been put into place by the government has eroded due to increased financial constraints on government expenditures. Unlike the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is not highly dependent on remittances as they only represent about 2% of GDP. Immigration from Nicaragua has increasingly become a concern for the government. The estimated 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans in Costa Rica legally and illegally are an important source of mostly unskilled labor but also place heavy demands on the social welfare system. The US-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force on 1 January 2009 after significant delays within the Costa Rican legislature. CAFTA-DR has increased foreign direct investment in key sectors of the economy, including the insurance and telecommunications sectors recently opened to private investors. President CHINCHILLA was not able to gain legislative approval for fiscal reform, her top priority, though she continued to pursue fiscal reform in 2012. President CHINCHILLA and the PLN were successful in passing a tax on corporations to fund an increase for security services.

Population:

4,755,234 (July 2014 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 23.5% (male 570,311/female 545,026)

15-24 years: 17.5% (male 423,340/female 407,335)

25-54 years: 43.8% (male 1,045,296/female 1,035,273)

55-64 years: 7% (male 193,205/female 201,377)

65 years and over: 6.8% (male 154,467/female 179,604) (2014 est.)

Median age:

total: 30 years

male: 29.5 years

female: 30.5 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.24% (2014 est.)

Birth rate:

16.08 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate:

4.49 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate:

0.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 8.7 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 9.5 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 78.23 years

male: 75.59 years

female: 81.01 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.91 children born/woman (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.3% (2012)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

9,800 (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

300 (2012 est.)

Nationality:

noun: Costa Rican(s)
adjective: Costa Rican

Ethnic groups:

white or mestizo 83.6%, mulato 6.7%, indigenous 2.4%, black of African descent 1.1%, other 1.1%, none 2.9%, unspecified 2.2% (2011 est.)

Religions:

Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%

Languages:

Spanish (official), English

Literacy:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 96.3%

male: 96%

female: 96.5% (2011 est.)

National Flower

Guaria Morada

National Tree

Guanacaste

National Bird

Yiguirro or Clay colored thrush or robin

Climate

Tropical with two seasons; dry from December to April and rainy for the rest of the year

Electricity

110 volts

Economic Overview

Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Poverty has remained at roughly 20% for nearly 20 years, and the strong social safety net that had been put into place by the government has eroded due to increased financial constraints on government expenditures. Immigration from Nicaragua has increasingly become a concern for the government. The estimated 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans estimated to be in Costa Rica legally and illegally are an important source of (mostly unskilled) labor, but also place heavy demands on the social welfare system. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and high education levels, and tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange. The government continues to grapple with its large internal and external deficits and sizable internal debt. Reducing inflation remains a difficult problem because of rising import prices, labor market rigidities, and fiscal deficits. The country also needs to reform its tax system and its pattern of public expenditure. The current administration has made it a priority to pass the necessary reforms to implement the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). CAFTA implementation would result in an improved investment climate.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$61.43 billion (2013 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$48.51 billion (2013 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3.5% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$12,900 (2013 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 6.2%

industry: 21.3%

services: 72.5% (2013 est.)

Labor force:

2.222 million
note: this official estimate excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica legally and illegally (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 14%

industry: 22%

services: 64% (2006 est.)

Unemployment rate:

7.9% (2013 est.)

Population below poverty line:

24.8% (2011 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.2%

highest 10%: 39.5% (2009 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

50.3 (2009)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

5.6% (2013 est.)

Budget:

revenues: $7.197 billion

expenditures: $9.621 billion (2013 est.)

Public debt:

55% of GDP (2013 est.)

Agriculture - products:

bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy; timber

Industries:

microprocessors, food processing, medical equipment, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products

Industrial production growth rate:

4.3% (2013 est.)

Electricity - production:

9.473 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - consumption:

8.532 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports:

135 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - imports:

164 million kWh (2010 est.)

Crude Oil - production:

290.7 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Oil - consumption:

44,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil - exports:

NA bbl/day

Oil - imports:

NA bbl/day

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Exports:

$11.66 billion (2013 est.)

Exports - commodities:

bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; beef; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment

Exports - partners:

US 38.9%, Netherlands 7.5%, Panama 5.1%, Hong Kong 4.6%, Nicaragua 4.4% (2012)

Imports:

$17.56 billion (2013 est.)

Imports - commodities:

raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials

Imports - partners:

US 49.8%, China 8.2%, Mexico 6.6% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$7.406 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Debt - external:

$15.1 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Currency (code):

Costa Rican colon (CRC)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephone System

general assessment: good domestic telephone service in terms of breadth of coverage; under the terms of CAFTA-DR, the state-run telecommunications monopoly is scheduled to be opened to competition from domestic and international firms, but has been slow to open to competition

domestic: point-to-point and point-to-multi-point microwave, fiber-optic, and coaxial cable link rural areas; Internet service is available

international: country code - 506; landing points for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1), MAYA-1, and the Pan American Crossing submarine cables that provide links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2011)

*Source: US Dept of State

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Jacqueline Marie Monacell

Jacqueline Monacell is the founder and president of Your Costa Rica Contact and has been living and working in Costa Rica since 1994. She has lived and studied in Spain, traveled and worked extensively throughout Central America and is completely bilingual.

Jacqui is originally from Rochester, New York where she lived until graduating from Pittsford Mendon High School. After high school she moved to New England and attended the University of New Hampshire  where she graduated cum laude with a BA in International Affairs and Spanish. She studied abroad in both Granada and Almeria, Spain. Immediately following graduation, Jacqui moved to Costa Rica and began her career.

In 1995, Jacqueline formed a strategic partnership with Car Doc SA (www.tallercardoc.com) and began working as the Central American Regional Manager with Mitchell International and Mitchell, US, software solutions companies specializing in the automotive and insurance industries. In 2002 she also began managing the regional distribution of UK-based Autodata Ltd. products. Working closely with these automotive software specialists, Jacqueline acquired extensive experience in the automotive collision and repair industry at an international level.

In 2005, Jacqui began Your Costa Rica Contact, a relocation and consulting company based in San José, Costa Rica. With her experience in the automotive industry, the company initially focused on assisting clients to find dependable transportation at fair prices. Your Costa Rica Contact gradually expanded to offer a wide variety of services for people relocating or spending extended periods of time in Costa Rica.

As an expatriate herself, Jacqui understands first-hand how difficult and frustrating the transition of relocating to Costa Rica can be and so the vision of the company today is to deliver top services at reasonable prices to foreign residents or tourists provided through YCRC's industrious and trustworthy network of local professionals.

In her free time, Jacqui enjoys playing tennis, mountain biking, cooking, reading,  riding motorcycles and spending time with her husband and dogs.