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Although explored by the Spanish early in the 16th century, initial attempts at colonizing Costa Rica proved unsuccessful due to a combination of factors, including disease from mosquito-infested swamps, brutal heat, resistance by natives, and pirate raids. It was not until 1563 that a permanent settlement of Cartago was established in the cooler, fertile central highlands. The area remained a colony for some two and a half centuries. In 1821, Costa Rica became one of several Central American provinces that jointly declared their independence from Spain. Two years later it joined the United Provinces of Central America, but this federation disintegrated in 1838, at which time Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence. Since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred the country's democratic development. In 1949, Costa Rica dissolved its armed forces. Although it still maintains a large agricultural sector, Costa Rica has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism industries. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.


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

Natural Resources


Population - distribution

roughly half of the nation's population resides in urban areas; the capital of San Jose is the largest city and home to approximately one-fifth of the population

Spanish (official), English
SAN JOSE (capital) 1.17 million (2015)
Conventional long form
Republic of Costa Rica
Conventional short form
Costa Rica
Local long form
Republica de Costa Rica
Local short form
Costa Rica
presidential republic
San Jose
Geographic coordinates
9 56 N, 84 05 W
Time difference
UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Since 2010, Costa Rica has enjoyed strong and stable economic growth - 4.3% in 2016. Exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are the backbone of its commodity exports. Various industrial and processed agricultural products have broadened exports in recent years, as have high value-added goods, including medical devices. Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity also makes it a key destination for ecotourism.
External debt stocks
US$ 23,667,498,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -1,879,571,054
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 18,329,828,592
Exports of goods and services
US$ 18,155,624,953
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 3,179,583,017
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 8,268,108,335
bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy; timber
medical equipment, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; beef; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment
US 35.2%, China 6.5%, Mexico 4.8%, Netherlands 4.4% (2015)
raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials
US 46.8%, China 10.1%, Mexico 7.3% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
A somewhat shaky political and economic outlook and a relatively volatile business environment can affect corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is still acceptable on average.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is relatively good. Although not always available, corporate financial information is usually reliable. Debt collection and the institutional framework may have some shortcomings. Intercompany transactions may run into occasional difficulties in the otherwise secure environments rated A3.
  • Democratic institutions (since 1949)
  • Best social indicators in the region: education and health
  • Services and cutting-edge industries (pharmaceuticals, microprocessors) attractive for FDIs
  • Diversified trade thanks to multiple trade agreements
  • Tourism resources: hotels, national parks
  • Exposure to natural disasters
  • Inadequate transport infrastructures
  • Economically and financially dependent on the United States
  • Weak public accounts
  • Lack of skilled labor/undeclared work

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