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Colonized by the Spanish in the 16th Century, Costa Rica was an almost-ignored part of the Spanish Empire. Though its road to independence saw it becoming first part of the 1st Mexican Empire and then the United Provinces of Central America, today Costa Rica is very much its own nation.
Compared to most of its neighbors, Costa Rica is incredibly prosperous and progressive, with a strong commitment to ecological stability as well as educational excellence. It is a small nation, but it is one that is routinely ahead on the curve on measurements of its citizens' health and happiness. This remarkable nation is one that almost certainly has a bright future ahead of it.
Quick Facts about Costa Rica
- Costa Rica has no standing army. It was abolished after a six-week civil war in 1948.
- Costa Rica is the hummingbird capital of the world. About fifty-one of the three hundred New World hummingbird species live in the country.
- Costa Rica considers education very important. Not only does it spend about fifty-percent more of its GDP on education than average, but it also has educational radio programs that help teach children who live in rural areas to read.
- Costa Rica is so close to the equator that the sun rises and sets at the same time every day.
- Costa Rica has a population of about five million but hosts about two million tourists every year.
Costa Rica borders three nations by land. To its north is Nicaragua, to its southeast is Panama, and to its south is Ecuador. The country borders the Caribbean Sea to the northeast and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest.
The land area of Costa Rica is 19,700 square miles, making it the 126th largest country in the world. In addition to its land area, it also encompasses about 227 square miles of territorial waters. Despite its relatively small size, it still has about eight hundred miles of coastline.
The primary and official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. The majority of citizens of the country do speak it as a first language.
There are still five living pre-Colombian languages spoken in Costa Rica. Each of these languages has at most several thousand speakers, with some of them having only hundreds. A small percentage of adults in Costa Rica speak English, while an even smaller percentage speaks French. Speakers of both languages are more common in areas where the tourist industries are prominent.
Weather & Climate
Costa Rica has a year-round tropical climate. Elevation does, however, play some role in the overall weather of any given region.
Regardless of the elevation, though, Ecuador's seasons can generally be divided into either rainy or dry. The wet season runs during the winter, while the dry season runs during the country's summer. There are times in the wet season where rainfall as nearly constant, as it does overlap with hurricane season in the Atlantic.
Type of Government
Costa Rica's government can be described as a presidential democratic democracy. The President is both the head of state and the head of the government, able to serve for a single four-year term that must be followed by an eight-year absence before running again. The legislature of Costa Rica is the unicameral Legislative Assembly, which seats 57 deputies.
Though Costa Rica is divided into seven provinces, there are no local legislatures. State governments do have a fair bit of power over certain local matters, but the ultimate authority in the country is held by the national government.