Costa Rica

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Posted by motoman 03/12/2009 @ 11:07

Tags : costa rica, central america, americas, world

News headlines
University of South Florida Student Reported Missing in Costa Rica - FOXNews
The University of South Florida says a 21-year-old student was reported missing in Costa Rica. According to a USF news release, authorities in Costa Rica have been searching for Aly Lakdawala since Saturday when was last seen swimming in the Pacific...
Five for fishing hall - ESPN
A proactive angler and conservationist, Barrantes opened up Costa Rica and Central America to sportfishing and served as the IGFA's Costa Rican Representative. He founded and was also president of Costa Rica's National Fishing Federation....
Friends of missing USF grad return home from Costa Rica - Tampa Bay's 10
Tampa, Florida-- It was an emotional reunion for USF students returning from a community service trip to Costa Rica Monday night, after one of their classmates disappeared over the weekend. The group flew into Tampa International Airport Monday night...
Costa Rica off-season: Overnight in San Jose, CR - Examiner.com
TIP: When departing Costa Rica, there is a $26 USD Departure Tax. The Marriott offers their guests the option of pre-paying for Departure Tax for a $5 USD fee in their business center or at the front desk. DO IT! its worth the $5.00....
Costa Rica Luxury Rental and Tours (CR Luxury) Featured on Travel ... - NewsReleaseWire.com (press release)
Los Sueños, Costa Rica, May 15, 2009 —Bridget Marquardt, host of the Travel Channel's "Bridget's Sexiest Beaches" is on a quest to discover the most beautiful beaches in the world. On May 21st she will feature Costa Rica Luxury Rental and Tours (CR...
Olsen to miss 3-4 weeks; Wallace weighs international options - Washington Examiner
It also could force the Costa Rican-born midfielder to make a decision sooner rather than later on which country he'd like to represent at the international level. "I've been thinking about it," said Wallace, who was born in San Jose, Costa Rica,...
Costa Rica off-season: Los Suenos Marriott - Examiner.com
Within the Los Sueños Resort is a Marriott Resort property. It is a unique relationship as those staying within the resort have access to the many amenities of The Marriott. The beautiful golf course is actually accessed from the Marriott grounds....
Global flu tally over 9700: European health agency - Sify
Colombia had 11, Costa Rica had nine, Brazil eight, El Salvador and Chile had four, while Cuba had three cases, according to the ECDC. In the Asia and Pacific region, Japan had 129 infections that were 'mainly associated with schools', the ECDC said,...
O'Neil Software Adds Costa Rica to Customer Territories - Inside Self-Storage
O'Neil Software, a provider of records-management software and hardware, has increased its international network of markets served to 70 with the addition of Costa Rica. The company was recently selected by Grupo Mudanzas Mundiales/Guardadocumentos,...

Costa Rica

Flag of Costa Rica

Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica (Spanish: Costa Rica or República de Costa Rica, Spanish pronunciation: ) is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the east and south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and south and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Costa Rica, which translates literally as "Rich Coast", was the first country in the world to constitutionally abolish its army. Among Latin American countries, Costa Rica ranks 4th in terms of the 2007 Human Development Index. The country is ranked 5th in the world, and 1st among the Americas, in terms of the 2008 Environmental Performance Index. In 2007 the government of Costa Rica stated that they want Costa Rica to be the first country to become carbon neutral by 2021.

In Pre-Columbian times the indigenous people, in what is now known as Costa Rica, were part of the international Intermediate Area located between the Mesoamerican and Andean cultural regions. This has recently been updated to include the influence of the Isthmo-Colombian area. It was the point where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures met.

The northwest of the country, the Nicoya Peninsula, was the southernmost point of Nahuatl (named after Nitin) cultural influence when the Spanish conquerors (conquistadores) came in the sixteenth century. The central and southern portions of the country had Chibcha influences. However, the indigenous people have influenced modern Costa Rican culture to a relatively small degree, as most of these died from diseases such as smallpox and mistreatment by the Spaniards.

The first European to reach what is now Costa Rica was Christopher Columbus in 1502. During Spanish Colonial times, the largest city in Central America was Guatemala City. Costa Rica's distance from this hub led to difficulty in establishing trade routes and was one of the reasons that Costa Ricans developed in relative isolation and with little oversight from the Spanish Monarchy ("The Crown"). While this isolation allowed the colony to develop free of intervention by The Crown, it also contributed to its failure to share in the prosperity of the Colonies, making Costa Rica the poorest Spanish Colony in Central America. Costa Rica was described as "the poorest and most miserable Spanish colony in all Americas" by a Spanish governor in 1719.

Another contributing factor to this poverty was the lack of indigenous people used as forced labor. While many Spaniards in the other colonies had tribal members working on their land, most of the Costa Rican settlers had to work on their own land themselves. For all these reasons Costa Rica was by and large unappreciated and overlooked by the Crown and left to develop on its own. It is believed that the circumstances during this period led to the formation of many of the idiosyncrasies that Costa Rica has become known for, while at the same time setting the stage for Costa Rica's development as a more egalitarian society than the rest of its neighbors. Costa Rica became a "rural democracy" with no oppressed mestizo or indigenous class. It was not long before Spanish settlers turned to the hills, where they found rich volcanic soil and a climate that was milder than that of the lowlands.

Costa Rica joined other Central American provinces in 1821 in a joint declaration of independence from Spain. After a brief time in the Mexican Empire of Agustín de Iturbide Costa Rica became a state in the Federal Republic of Central America from 1823 to 1839. In 1824 the capital was moved to San José, but violence briefly ensued through an intense rivalry with Cartago. Although the newly independent provinces formed a Federation, border disputes broke out among them, adding to the region's turbulent history and conditions.

Costa Rica's membership in the newly formed Federal Republic of Central America, free of Spanish rule, was short lived; in 1838, long after the Central American Federation ceased to function in practice, Costa Rica formally withdrew and proclaimed itself sovereign. The distance from Guatemala City to the Central Valley of Costa Rica, where most of the population lived and still lives, was great. The local population had little allegiance to the government in Guatemala City, in part because of the history of isolation during Colonial times. Costa Rica's disinterest in participating as a province in a greater Central American government was one of the deciding factors in the break-up of the fledgling federation into independent states, which still exist today. However, all of the Central American nations still celebrate September 15 as their independence day, which pertains to the independence of Central America from Spain].

Most Afro-Costa Ricans, who constitute about 3% of the country's population, descend from Jamaican immigrants who arrived during the 1880s to work in the construction of railways connecting the urban populations of the Central Plateau to the port of Limón on the Caribbean coast. United States convicts and Chinese immigrants also participated in the construction project, conducted by U.S. businessman Minor C. Keith. In exchange for completing the railroad, the Costa Rican government granted Keith large tracts of land and a lease on the train route, which he used to produce bananas and export them to the United States. As a result, bananas came to rival coffee as the principal Costa Rican export, while foreign-owned corporations (including the United Fruit Company) began to hold a major role in the national economy.

Historically, Costa Rica has generally enjoyed greater peace and more consistent political stability compared with many of its fellow Latin American nations. Since the late nineteenth century, however, Costa Rica has experienced two significant periods of violence. In 1917-19, Federico Tinoco Granados ruled as a dictator until he was overthrown and forced into exile. Again in 1948, José Figueres Ferrer led an armed uprising in the wake of a disputed presidential election. With more than 2,000 dead, the resulting 44-day Costa Rican Civil War was the bloodiest event in Costa Rica during the twentieth-century. Afterwards, the new, victorious government junta, led by the opposition, abolished the military and oversaw the drafting of a new constitution by a democratically-elected assembly. Having enacted these reforms, the regime finally relinquished its power on November 8, 1949, to the new democratic government. After the coup d'etat, Figueres became a national hero, winning the country's first democratic election under the new constitution in 1953. Since then, Costa Rica has held 12 presidential elections, the latest being in 2006. All of them have been widely regarded by the international community as peaceful, transparent, and relatively smooth transitions.

Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua to the north (309 km / 192 mi of border) and Panama to the south-southeast (639 km / 397 mi of border). In total, Costa Rica comprises 51,100 square kilometers (19,730 sq. mi) plus 589.000 square kilometers of territorial waters.

The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó, at 3,820 metres (12,532 ft), and is the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano (3,431 m / 11,257 ft). The largest lake in Costa Rica is Lake Arenal.

Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island stands out because of its distance from continental landmass (24 km² / 9.25 sq mi, 300 mi (480 km) from Puntarenas coast), but Calero Island is the largest island of the country (151.6 km² / 58.5 sq mi).

Costa Rica protects 23% of its national territory within the Protected Areas system. It also possesses the greatest density of species in the world.

Costa Rica is a democratic republic with a strong constitution. Although there are claims that the country has had more than 115 years of uninterrupted democracy, their presidential election history shows otherwise. Nonetheless, the country has had at least fifty-nine years of uninterrupted democracy, making it one of the most stable countries in the region. Costa Rica has been able to avoid the widespread violence that has plagued most of Latin America.

Costa Rica is a republic with three powers: executive responsibilities are vested in a president, legislative power is vested on the Legislative Assembly, and Judicial power is vested on the Supreme Court. There are two vice presidents as well as a cabinet designated by the president. The president, vice presidents, and fifty-seven Legislative Assembly delegates are elected for four-year terms. A constitutional amendment approved in 1969 limited presidents and delegates to one term, although delegates were allowed to run again for an Assembly seat after sitting out a term.

The Supreme Electoral Body, the Office of the Comptroller General, the Office of the Procurator General of the Republic and the Office of the Ombudsman also enjoy a lot of independence.

The Supreme Court is divided into 4 chambers, one dealing with Constitutional Law, one dealing with Criminal Law and two dealing with Civil Law, Merchant Law and the like.

In April 2003, the constitutional amendment ban on presidential re-election was reversed, allowing Óscar Arias (Nobel Peace Prize laureate, 1987) to run for president for a second term. In 2006, Óscar Arias was re-elected in a tight and highly contested election, running on a platform of promoting free trade. He took office on May 8, 2006.

Certain autonomous state agencies enjoy considerable operational independence; they include the telecommunications and electrical power monopoly, the nationalized commercial banks, the state insurance monopoly, and the social security agency. Costa Rica has no military by constitution.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Costa Rica's GDP per capita is US$13,500 PPP (2007 estimate); however, this developing country still faces the fourth highest inflation rate in Latin America, lack of maintenance and new investment in infrastructure, over 16% of the people were below the poverty line (2006 estimate) and a 5.5% unemployment rate (2007 estimate). The Costa Rican economy grew nearly 5% in 2006 after experiencing four years of slow economic growth. Costa Rica is also the Latin American pioneer in the implementation of a modern welfare state. Its welfare spending is as high as that of Scandinavian countries.

The central government offers tax exemptions for those who are willing to invest in the country. Several global high tech corporations have already started developing in the area exporting goods including chip manufacturer Intel, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, and consumer products company Procter & Gamble. In 2006 Intel's microprocessor facility alone was responsible for 20% of Costa Rican exports and 4.9% of the country's GDP. Trade with South East Asia and Russia has boomed during 2004 and 2005, and the country is expected to obtain full Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) membership by 2007 (the country became an observer in 2004).

For the fiscal year 2005, the country showed a government deficit of 2.1%, internal revenue increased an 18%, and exports increased a 12.8%. Revised economic figures released by the Central Bank indicate that economic growth stood at 5%, nevertheless the country faced high inflation (14%) and a trade deficit of 5.2%. As of 2007, Costa Rica's inflation rate stands at 9.30%, Latin America's 4th highest inflation rate.

In recent times electronics, pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, software development, and ecotourism have become the prime industries in Costa Rica's economy. High levels of education among its residents make the country an attractive investing location. Since 1999, tourism earns more foreign exchange than the combined exports of the country's three main cash crops: bananas, pineapples and coffee. Coffee production has played a key role in Costa Rica's history and economy and by 2006 was the third cash crop export. The largest coffee growing areas are in the provinces of San José, Alajuela, Heredia, Puntarenas, and Cartago. Costa Rica is famous for its gourmet coffee beans, with Costa Rican Tarrazú among the finest Arabica coffee beans in the world used for making espresso coffee, together with Jamaican Blue Mountain, Guatemalan Antigua and Ethiopian Sidamo.

The unit of currency is the colón, which trades around 548 to the U.S. dollar; currently about 800 to the euro. On October 16, 2006, a new currency exchange system was introduced, allowing the value of the CRC colón to float between two bands as done previously by Chile. The idea is that by doing so the Central Bank will be able to better tackle inflation and discourage the use of U.S. dollars. Since that time, the value of the colón against the dollar has stabilized.

Costa Rica's location provides access to American markets as it has the same time zone as the central part of the United States and direct ocean access to Europe and Asia. A countrywide referendum has approved a free trade agreement with the United States. In the referendum on October 7, 2007, the voters of Costa Rica narrowly backed the free trade agreement, with 51.6% of "Yes" votes.

With a $1.9 billion per year tourism industry, Costa Rica stands as the most visited nation in the Central American region, with 1.9 million foreign visitors in 2007, which translates into a relatively high expenditure per tourist of $1,000 per trip, and a rate of foreign tourists per capita of 0.46, one of the highest in the Caribbean Basin. Most of the tourists come from the U.S. and Canada (46%), and Europe (16%). In 2005, tourism contributed with 8.1% of the country's GNP and represented 13.3% of direct and indirect employment. Tourism now earns more foreign exchange than bananas and coffee combined.

Ecotourism is extremely popular with the many tourists visiting the extensive national parks and protected areas around the country. Costa Rica was a pioneer in this type of tourism, and the country is recognized as one of the few with real ecotourism. In the 2009 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, Costa Rica ranked 42nd in the world and first among Latin American countries. Just considering the sub-index natural resources, Costa Rica ranks 6th worldwide in terms of the natural resources pillar, but 89th in terms of its culttural resources.

Costa Rica is an active member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the United Nations University of Peace are based in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican State is also a member of many other international organizations related to human rights and democracy.

Costa Rica holds as a main foreign policy objective is to foster human rights and sustainable development as a way to secure stability and growth.

Costa Rica is a member of the International Criminal Court, without a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the United States military (as covered under Article 98).

Costa Rica also has a long-term disagreement with Nicaragua over the San Juan River which denotes the border between the two countries; the disagreement originates from the fact that the river, being Nicaraguan soil, is the only way of access to several communities in Costa Rica which need to be served by armed Costa Rican police forces.

On June 1, 2007, Costa Rica broke ties with the Republic of China in Taiwan, switching allegiance to the People's Republic of China in mainland China.

Costa Rica is currently a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, having been elected for a non-renewable two-year term in the 2007 election. Its term expires on 31 December 2009; this is Costa Rica's sixth time on the Security Council.

Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.1% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity. Around 25% of the country's land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentual of protected areas in the world.

One national park that is internationally renowned among ecologists for its biodiversity (including big cats and tapirs) and where visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife is the Corcovado National Park. Corocovado is the one park in Costa Rica where all four Costa Rican monkey species can be found. These include the White-headed Capuchin, the Mantled Howler and the endangered Geoffroy's Spider Monkey. They also include the Central American Squirrel Monkey, which is found only on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and a small part of Panama, and was considered endangered until 2008 when its status was upgraded to vulnerable.

Tortuguero National Park — the name Tortuguero can be translated as "Full of Turtles" — is home to spider, howler and white-throated Capuchin monkeys, the three-toed sloth, 320 species of birds, and a variety of reptiles, but the park is recognized for the annual nesting of the endangered green turtle and is the most important nesting site for the species. Giant leatherback, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles also nest there.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is home to about 2,000 plant species, including numerous orchids. Over four hundred types of birds and over one hundred species of mammals can be found there. As a whole, around eight hundred species of birds have been identified in Costa Rica. The Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad is allowed to collect royalties on any biological discoveries of medical importance.

Costa Rica and parts of Panama are home to the vulnerable Central American Squirrel Monkey. Deforestation, illegal pet-trading and hunting are the main reasons for its threatened status.

Costa Rica is also a center of biological diversity for reptiles and amphibians, including the world's fastest living lizard, the spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura similis).

Costa Rica has a population of 4,133,884. The combined white and Mestizo groups constitute 94% of the population, while 3% are Black/Afro-Caribbean, 1% Amerindian, 1% Chinese and 1% are of other ethnic groups The exact breakdown, however, is not known because the Costa Rican census combines whites and Mestizos in one category. The white population is primarily of Spaniard ancestry with significant numbers of Costa Ricans of Italian, German, Jewish and Polish descent.

Just under 3% of the population is of black African descent. The majority of the Afro-Costa Ricans are Creole English-speaking descendants of nineteenth century black Jamaican immigrant workers, as well as slaves who were brought during the Atlantic slave trade.

The indigenous or Amerindian population numbers around 1%, or over 41,000 individuals. A significant portion of the population descends from a bi-racial mix of local Amerindians and Spaniards; most live in secluded Indian reservations in the Cordillera de Talamanca or Guanacaste.

There is also an expatriate community of people from the United States, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Britain, and other countries.

Costa Rica hosts many refugees, mainly from Colombia and Nicaragua. As a result, an estimated 10% of the Costa Rican population is made up of Nicaraguans, most of whom migrate for seasonal work opportunities and then return to their country. Moreover, Costa Rica took in many refugees from a range of other Latin American countries fleeing civil wars and dictatorships during the 1970s and 80s—notably from Chile and Argentina, as well as El Salvador who fled from guerrillas and government death squads.

Christianity is the predominant religion in Costa Rica, and Roman Catholicism is the official state religion as guaranteed by the constitution of 1949. Some 84% of Costa Ricans are Christian, and like many other parts of Latin America, Evangelical Protestant denominations have been experiencing rapid growth. However, 70% still adhere to Roman Catholicism.

Because of the recent small but continuous immigration of communities from Asia, the Middle East, and other places, other religions have grown, the most popular being Buddhism (because of an increasing Chinese community of 40,000), and smaller numbers of Jewish, Muslim, Bahá’í and Hindu adherents.

There is a Jewish synagogue, the B'nei Israel Congregation, in San José, near the La Sabana Metropolitan Park. Several homes in the neighborhood east of La Sabana Metropolitan Park are festooned with the Star of David and other recognizable Jewish symbols.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has seen modest growth in Costa Rica in the last 40 years and has built one of only two temples in Central America in the San Antonio de Belen region of Heredia.

The only official language is Spanish. There are two main accents native to Costa Rica, the standard Costa Rican and the Nicoyan. The Nicoyan accent is very similar to the standard Nicaraguan accent. A peculiarity of the Spanish in Costa Rica is the relative lack of the use of the pronoun tú, which is considered rather informal by native Costa Ricans. Instead, Costa Ricans use vos or usted. The conjugation of vos in Costa Rica is practically the same as in Argentina, with the exception of the subjunctive forms.

Jamaican immigrants in the 19th century brought with them a dialect of English that has evolved into the Mekatelyu creole dialect.

Costa Rica boasts a varied history. Costa Rica was the point where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures met. The northwest of the country, the Nicoya peninsula, was the southernmost point of Nahuatl cultural influence when the Spanish conquerors (conquistadores) came in the sixteenth century. The central and southern portions of the country had Chibcha influences. The Atlantic coast, meanwhile, was populated with African workers during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Costa Rican popular music genres include: American and British rock and roll, pop, reggae, and reggaeton are popular and common among the youth (especially urban youth) while dance-oriented genres like soca, salsa, bachata, merengue, cumbia and Costa Rican swing. The guitar is a popular instrument especially as an accompaniment to folk dances.

The literacy rate in Costa Rica is of 95%, one of the highest in Latin America. Elementary and high schools are found throughout the country in practically every community. Universal public education is guaranteed in the constitution. Primary education is obligatory, and both preschool and high school are free. There are both state and private universities.

There are only a few schools in Costa Rica that go beyond the 12th grade. Students who finish 11th grade receive a Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education.

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Economy of Costa Rica

Ecotourism is key in Costa Rica's tourism industry. Shown Savegre River, Talamanca.

The economy of Costa Rica heavily depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Poverty has been reduced over the past 15 years, and a social safety net put into place. Economic growth rebounded from -0.9% in 1996 to 4% in 1997, 6% in 1998, 7% in 1999.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Costa Rica's GDP per capita is US$11,100; however, this developing country still faces the second highest inflation rate in Latin America, lack of maintenance and new investment in infrastructure, over 610,000 (16%) people below the poverty line and just over 270,000 (6.6%) unemployed. The Costa Rican economy grew nearly 5% in 2006 after experiencing 4 years of slow economic growth.

Inflation rose to 22.5% in 1995, dropped to 11.1% in 1997, 12% in 1998, 11% in 1999 and 9% in 2007. Large government deficits - fueled by interest payments on the massive internal debt - and inefficient administration by government monopolies have undermined efforts to maintain the quality of social services. Curbing inflation, reducing the deficit, and improving public sector efficiency through an anti-corruption drive, remain key challenges to the government. Political resistance to privatization has stalled liberalization efforts.

Costa Rica's economy emerged from recession in 1997 and has shown strong aggregate growth since then. After 6.2% growth in 1998, GDP grew a substantial 8.3% in 1999, led by exports of the country's.

The strength in the nontraditional export and tourism sector is masking a relatively lackluster performance by traditional sectors, including agriculture. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, was 10.1% in 1999, down from 11.2% the year before. The central government deficit decreased to 3.2% of GDP in 1999, down from 3.3% from the year before. On a consolidated basis, including Central Bank losses and parastatal enterprise profits, the public sector deficit was 2.3% of GDP.

Controlling the budget deficit remains the single biggest challenge for the country's economic policy makers, as interest costs on the accumulated central government debt consumes the equivalent of 30% of the government's total revenues. This limits the resources available for investments in the country's deteriorated public infrastructure, investments in many cases that would result in higher quality infrastructure if they were better planned.

Costa Rica's major economic resources are its fertile land and frequent rainfall, its well-educated population, and its location in the Central American isthmus, which provides easy access to North and South American markets and direct ocean access to the European and Asian Continents. Costa Rica has two seasons, both of which have their own agricultural resources. The seasons are the basic, wet and dry, tropical seasons. One-fourth of Costa Rica's land is dedicated to national forests, often adjoining beaches, which has made the country a popular destination for affluent retirees and ecotourists. In terms of the 2008 Environmental Performance Index ranking, Costa Rica is 5th in the world, up from the 15th place in 2006.

With a $1.92-billion-a-year tourism industry, Costa Rica stands as the most visited nation in the Central American region, with 1.9 million foreign visitors in 2007, thus reaching a rate of foreign tourists per capita of 0.46, one of the highest in the Caribbean Basin, and above other popular destinations such as Mexico (0.21), Dominican Republic (0.38), and Brazil (0.03).

Ecotourism is extremely popular with the many tourists visiting the extensive national parks and protected areas around the country. Costa Rica was a pioneer in this type of tourism and the country is recognized as one of the few with real ecotourism. Other important market segments are adventure, and sun and beaches. Most of the tourists come from the U.S. and Canada (46%), and the E.U. (16%), the prime market travelers in the world, which translates into a relatively high expenditure per tourist of $1000 per trip. In terms of 2008 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), Costa Rica reached the 44th place in the world ranking, being the first among Latin American countries, and second if the Caribbean is included. Just considering the subindex measuring human, cultural, and natural resources, Costa Rica ranks in the 24th place at a worldwide level, and 7th when considering just the natural resources criteria. The TTCI report also notes Costa Rica's main weaknesses, ground transport infrastructure (ranked 113th), and safety and security (ranked 128th).

Costa Rica used to be known principally as a producer of bananas and coffee. Even though coffee, bananas, pineapple, sugar, lumber, wood products and beef are still important exports, in recent times electronics, pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, software development, and ecotourism have become the prime industries in Costa Rica's economy. High levels of education among its residents make the country an attractive investing location.

The country has successfully attracted important investments by such companies as Intel Corporation, which employs nearly 3,500 people at its custom built $300 million microprocessor plant; Procter & Gamble, which is establishing its administrative center for the Western Hemisphere in Costa Rica; and Abbott Laboratories and Baxter Healthcare from the health care products industry likewise. Manufacturing and industry's contribution to GDP overtook agriculture over the course of the 1990s, led by foreign investment in Costa Rica's free trade zones. Well over half of that investment has come from the U.S. In 2006 Intel's microprocessor facility alone was responsible for 20% of Costa Rican exports and 4.9% of the country's GDP.

Trade with South East Asia and Russia has boomed during 2004 and 2005, and the country is expected to obtain full Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) membership by 2007 (the country became an observer in 2004).

Tourism is booming, with the number of visitors up from 780,000 in 1996, through 1 million in 1999, to 1.9 million foreign visitors in 2007, allowing the country to earn $1.9-billion in that year. Tourism now earns more foreign exchange than bananas and coffee combined. In 2005, tourism contributed with 8,1% of the country's GDP and represented 13,3% of direct and indirect employment.

The country has not discovered sources of fossil fuels--apart from minor coal deposits-- but its mountainous terrain and abundant rainfall have permitted the construction of a dozen hydroelectric power plants, making it self-sufficient in all energy needs, except oil for transportation. Costa Rica exports electricity to Central America and has the potential to become a major electricity exporter if plans for new generating plants and a regional distribution grid are realized. Mild climate and trade winds make neither heating nor cooling necessary, particularly in the highland cities and towns where some 90% of the population lives.

Costa Rica's infrastructure has suffered from a lack of maintenance and new investment. The country has an extensive road system of more than 30,000 kilometers, although much of it is in disrepair. Most parts of the country are accessible by road. The main highland cities in the country's Central Valley are connected by paved all-weather roads with the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and by the Pan American Highway with Nicaragua and Panama, the neighboring countries to the North and the South. Costa Rica's ports are struggling to keep pace with growing trade. They have insufficient capacity, and their equipment is in poor condition. The railroad didn't function for several years, until recent government effort to reactivate it for city transportation.

The government hopes to bring foreign investment, technology, and management into the telecommunications and electrical power sectors, which are monopolies of the state. However, political opposition to opening these sectors to private participation has stalled the government's efforts.

Costa Rica has a reputation as one of the most stable, prosperous, and among the least corrupt in Latin America. However, in fall 2004, three former Costa Rican presidents (Jose Maria Figueres, Miguel Angel Rodríguez, and Rafael Angel Calderon) were investigated on corruption charges related to the issuance of government contracts, and several of the legal proceeding are still open.

The poor state of public finances and the maladministration by state monopolies will continue to limit the state's ability to try to modernize these sectors in the absence of a political consensus to permit private investment. Failure to act soon on telecommunications could prove an obstacle to the government's desire to attract more world-class foreign investment.

Some large sectors such as utilities and telecommunications are nationalized and/or are government supported monopolies.

Although there are no formal capital controls, it has been claimed that the prevalence of state-owned banks have had the same effect. They are also blamed for the rampant inflation that currently runs at around 11%.

The quality of these industries, particularly power and communications, have been sharply criticized for the outages that occur nearly daily in some areas.

The large amount of government intervention and support for these industries has been blamed for the lack of funding for and virtual non-existence of police.

Costa Rica has sought to widen its economic and trade ties, both within and outside the region. Costa Rica signed a bilateral trade agreement with Mexico in 1994, which was later amended to cover a wider range of products. Costa Rica joined other Central American countries, plus the Dominican Republic, in establishing a Trade and Investment Council with the United States in March 1998.

Costa Rica also is a member of the Cairns Group which is pursuing global agricultural trade liberalization in the World Trade Organization and helping to maintain the proper economy level in Costa Rica.

GDP composition by sector: agriculture: 8.5% (2005) Bananas, pineapples, coffee, beef, sugarcane, rice, dairy products, vegetables, fruits and ornamental plants. industry: 29.7% (2004) Electronic components, food processing, textiles and apparel, construction materials, cement, fertilizer. services: 61.8% (2004) Hotels, restaurants, tourist services, banks, and insurance.

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Costa Rica national football team

World Map FIFA.svg

The Costa Rica national football team, nicknamed La Sele, is the national team of Costa Rica and is controlled by the Federación Costarricense de Fútbol. Costa Rica is the third most successful team in CONCACAF after Mexico and the United States, and the most successful team in Central America having qualified for three World Cups, reaching the last sixteen on their debut in Italy 1990 and putting up a solid showing in 2002 where they had the misfortune to be drawn in the same group as eventual champions Brazil and third-place finishing Turkey. In 2006, Los Ticos qualified for the World Cup in Germany, with their worst World Cup finish ever, finishing 31st out of 32 teams.

Costa Rica have been CONCACAF champions three times (1963, 1969, 1989) and have won the UNCAF Nations Cup six times. The nation has also participated in three Copa América tournaments, making the quarterfinals on their last two visits.

Costa Rica has a long-standing football culture and tradition. Throughout the 50s and 60s, and were very much the second strongest team in the CONCACAF zone behind Mexico, finishing runners-up in World Cup qualifying in the 1958, 1962 and 1966 qualifiers. Stars of the side in this period Ruben Jimenez, Errol Daniels, Leonel Hernandez and Edgar Marin. Currently its topscorer is Rolando Fonseca with 47 goals.

However, at the end of the 60s their fortunes would decline as other teams in the region such as Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago and Canada came to the fore. Costa Rica failed to make the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying until the 1986 qualifiers.

The 1990 World Cup qualifiers represented a breakthrough. The expulsion of regional powerhouse Mexico from qualifying after they fielded overage players in a youth tournament resulted in a very open field. Costa Rica topped the final qualifying group to qualify for the World Cup for the first time. In the 1990 World Cup they would defeat Sweden and Scotland to reach the second round.

Once again, Costa Rica would reach the final stages of qualifying in the 1998 series, but fell short of qualification for the 1998 World Cup. They have since qualified for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. In 2002 they were drawn in Group C, with Brazil, Turkey and China. They came 3rd in the group, only losing out to Turkey on goal difference, both on 4 points. In 2006 they were drawn into Group A, with Germany, Poland and Ecuador. Costa Rica played Germany in the opening match of the 2006 Fifa world cup, but they lost 4-2. Their second match, against Ecuador, was a 3-0 defeat. With Poland defeated by Ecuador and Germany and eliminated, Costa Rica played them for the fight for 3rd place. Costa Rica opened the scoring on 25 minutes, but two headers from Poland gave them the 2-1 win. Costa Rica were one of the teams who finished the group stages with zero points.

They were called for 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification Fourth Round against Honduras on 11 February 2009. Stats reflect that match.

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Source : Wikipedia