Information about Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small country, but rich for its people, for its level of education, for its learning capacity and for its specialization. Its natural wealth consists of its fauna, its flora, its rivers, its beaches in both oceans, its land and its climate that allow it to produce the twelve months of the year.


There are no political or social concerns that keep the country unstable. Costa Rica's army is made up of its teachers and its great working mass, from a laborer to a biotechnologist, all living together in peace. The Costa Rican people are characterized by their legendary cordiality and friendly nature. The vast majority of the population is descended from Spanish and European settlers. The official language is Spanish, however, a growing percentage of the population speaks English.


For these reasons, exports have grown steadily for more than twelve years, occupying in recent years the first place in Latin America. Costa Rican and foreign investments have allowed this development.


It produces from the tastiest and finest coffee, to ostrich meat and beautiful butterflies that brighten the spirit of Europeans. They develop from software programs to the cultivation of the pejibaye palm heart, which is now being developed by other nations.


Costa Rica, with an extension of 51,100 km2, is home to people with a spirit full of hospitality who invite you to get to know their country.


History


Costa Rica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502, on his fourth voyage to the Americas. His caravels anchored near Cariari Island, in the vicinity of what is now known as Limón, on the Caribbean coast. Impressed by the lush vegetation and the abundance of gold jewelry and ornaments worn by the indigenous natives, Columbus named the land Costa Rica.


In 1989, this country celebrated its 100th anniversary of democracy. In 1948, the army was abolished through the drafting of a new Constitution promoted by Mr. José Figueres Ferrer. Costa Rica is still a country without an army, the General Headquarters was transformed into the National Museum. The country has been nominated 12 times for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1989 then President Oscar Arias Sanchez received this prestigious award for efforts in negotiations to end civil wars in other Central American countries.


Political Division


The country's territory is administratively divided into seven provinces: San José, the capital; Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Limón.


Location


It is bordered to the North by Nicaragua, to the South by Panama, to the East and West by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, respectively. Its Atlantic coast measures 255 kms, while the Pacific coast extends 1,103 kms. Both coasts enjoy an abundance of first class beaches and lush vegetation.


Climate


Costa Rica enjoys a spring-like climate all year round. The average temperature is 72 F (22o.C) in the Central Valley. Coastal and beach temperatures range from 70-90F (21-32o.C).


In this country there are more than 12 life zones according to the Holdrieschl scale, product of an abundance of microclimates. This abundance of microclimates has produced at the same time a wealth of fauna and flora, making them some of the richest on the planet. Because of its greenery and climate, this is a country of eternal spring.


The climates, according to the range of altitude, are the following:


from 0 to 609 meters: Tropical

from 610 to 1,119 meters: Summer

from 1,120 to 1,829 meters: Springtime

from 1,830 meters and above: Autumnal


Education


The country currently has one of the highest literacy rates on the continent with about 94% of the population.


Transportation


It is easily accessible by land, sea and air. Visitors from Canada, the United States of America, Mexico and other Latin American countries can travel via the Inter-American Highway, which is open year-round. In addition, there are numerous airlines, including: COPA, LACSA, SAHSA, TACA, SAM, AMERICAN AIRLINES, CONDOR and LTU from Germany, CANADIAN NATIONAL AIR, LADECO, IBERIA, MEXICANA, KLM, AERO COSTA RICA, CONTINENTAL, AVIATECA, VARIG, UNITED, SERVIVENSA. Located in the Central American isthmus, Costa Rica has easy access to the farthest ends of the world, thanks to its ports in both oceans, which have modern equipment according to international standards, such as Puerto Moin and Puerto Limon in the Atlantic and Caldera in the Pacific.


Communications


It is connected via satellite with other Central American countries, the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, South America, Asia and Africa. Besides having direct dialing, facsimile and telex facilities in most countries of the world, it has an efficient mail system and courier services.


Government


The 1949 Constitution guarantees equality before the law, freedom of speech, assembly, press and organization; it also guarantees these rights, not only for Costa Rican citizens, but also for foreigners living in Costa Rica, keeping the right to vote for nationals.


The Constitution prohibits the establishment of an army, placing Costa Rica among the very few, if not the only country in the world, free of military forces and interests. Social order is efficiently safeguarded by the police force.


The current political structure is divided into three main branches: The Legislative Branch (a single-chamber Congress) consisting of 57 Deputies, representatives elected for four-year terms; The Executive Branch which includes the President, the Vice Presidents and 18 Ministries, whose Ministers compose the Presidential Cabinet; and the Judicial Branch, consisting of the Supreme Court of Justice, four Courts of Appeal, the Criminal, Civil and Special Courts. Each branch functions independently from the others, with a system of review and compensation similar to that of the United States of America.


Every four years the country holds popular elections to choose its President, its Deputies and its municipal representatives. The Constitution prohibits the President from being reelected.


In addition to the three branches of government, and functioning in conjunction with them, is the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which is considered a fourth branch. This entity has, in addition to the responsibility, the authority to organize and supervise all those activities related to national elections. This protection of the right to vote is very much appreciated by all Costa Rican citizens.


Mandatory Holidays


January 1st (New Year's Day)

May 1st (International Labor Day)

September 15th (Independence Day)

December 25th (Christmas Day)

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday


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