macrohistory & world report

Costa Rica

Map of Costa Rica

Costa Rica (capital San Jose) and neighboring states in Central America

World Factbook as of November 2014: "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."

Economic growth rate
2011: 4%
2010: 4.2%
2009: minus 1.3%

Labor force in agriculture
2006: 14%

Unemployment rate
2011: 6.5%

Public debt
2011: 44.5% of GDP

Exports only 71% of imports in cash value

Exports: coffee, bananas, sugar; pineapples; textiles, electronic components, medical equipment

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 23rd among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal). Less equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and the US, which ranks 45th.

Health expenditures
2009: 10.5% of GDP

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2006: 0.4%


Living in an urban area
2010: 64%

Ethnic groups
White (including mestizo) 94%, black 3%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1%, other 1%

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

Net migration rate
2012: Net gain of 0.86 per 1,000 population per year

Living with HIV/AIDS, ages 15 to 49: 0.6 percent (2003).


Central America between Nicaragua and Panama.


President and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single four-year term.

Unicameral Legislative Assembly (57 seats), members elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms.

The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.