Costa Rica is officially known as the Republic of Costa Rica.

It is19,575 square miles in size and has a population of approximately 3,342,000people. It is bordered by Panama and Nicaragua. The capital of Costa Ricais San Jose. Its coastal areas are hot and humid and heavily forested. It has alarge chain of volcanoes rising over 12,000 feet. The official language ofCosta Rica is Spanish.

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It is a democratic nation and has no military. CostaRica has only 3 national newspapers.HistoryChristopher Columbus discovered Costa Rica in 1502.

In 1563 Spainbegan its conquest of the Costa Rican area. In 1821 Costa Rica gainedindependence and was successfully part of the Mexican empire. Coffeegrowing started in the early 1800’s and banana cultivation began in 1874. Costa Rica’s democratic government began in 1889. Its president from 1986to 1990 worked for peace in Central America. Economically, Costa Rica hasa history of payment problems.

GovernmentCosta Rica has a democratic government. Its current constitution wasadopted in 1949. In Costa Rica, the president serves as the chief executiveand head of state. The president is elected to a four year term. Thelegislative assembly has fifty-seven deputies that are elected for a four yearterm. The supreme court has seventeen justices appointed by the legislature. Costa Rica’s army was abolished in 1948. However, they do have a nationalguard that can fight in a time of war.

Costa Rica’s seven provinces each havea governer appointed by the president. All citizens 18 years of age or olderare required to vote in the national election. The country’s two main politicalparties are the National Liberation Party and the Social Christian Unity Party.Population and AncestryIn 1994, Costa Rica’s population was about three and one quarter of amillon people.

It is estimated to be growing at a rate of about two and onequarter percent. At this rate, Costa Rica’s population will double in 30 years. Costa Ricans take great pride in their country’s heritage of government andsocial equality. They do not take for granted their personal dignity and strongfamily ties. Almost all of Costa Ricans speak Spanish but some blacks speakwith a Jamaican dialect. About 90% of the people belong to the RomanCatholic Church.HousingAbout 50% of the Costa Ricans live on farms or in rural towns. A lotof farmers live in Adobe cottages with thick, white stucco walls and red orpink-tiled roofs.

Most of Costa Rica’s city people live in row houses. ManyCosta Ricans like to decorate their homes with plants and flowers. Wealthyfamilys live in large ranch-style homes surrounded by huge gardens.

FoodParts of the diet of many Costa Ricans can include beans, coffee, corn,eggs, rice, and tropical fruits like bananas, guaves, mangoes, oranges, andpineapples. Many Costa Rican families also serve beef, fish, poultry, andmany kinds of soups. Tamales and tortillas are also foods that are oftenprepared.EducationAbout 90 to 93% of Costa Rica’s people can read or write. This is ahigher percentage than any other country in Central America.

Law requiresall children to complete elementary school and then they may choose whetheror not to continue on with their education. Costa Rica has several universitieswhich include the National University in Heredia and the University of CostaRica by San Jose.Sports and RecreationMost Costa Ricans enjoy spending their leisure time outdoors.

Socceris the national sport and playing fields can be found everywhere. Basketball,tennis, and swimming are also popular. On some religious holidays,bullfights, fireworks, and masked parades can attract thousands of CostaRicans and foreign tourists. The only 18-hole golf course in Costa Rica is atthe Cariari Country Club, just west of San Jose. However, there are many9-hole courses. The country’s national gymnasium is in Sabana Park.

Manytennis courts are also in Sabana Park. Rodeos and bullfights are held at SantaCruz. In a bullfight, the bull chases men around. During Christmasfestivities, there are also Mexican style bullfights in which the person tries tokill the bull.

EconomyThe most valuable natural resource in Costa Rica is the fertile volcanicsoil. Trees such as oaks, pines, and tropical hardwood cover about 1/3 of theland. About 1/4 of Costa Rica’s workers are in farming or ranching. Bananas, beef cattle, coffee, corn, rice, and sugar cane are the country’sleading agricultural products. Some farmers also grow oranges, beans,potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables.

Costa Rica’s leading manufacturedproducts include cement, clothing, cosmetics, furniture, machinery, andmedicines. Costa Rica’s economy depends a lot on foreign trade. It’sleading exports include coffee, bananas, beef, and sugar. Its main imports arepetroleum, chemicals, and manufactured goods.

The Pan American highwaylinks all of Costa Rica’s provincial capitals with the exceptions of Limon andPuntarenas. Costa Rica has an average of 1 automobile for every 27 people. It has an average of 1 TV set for every 6 people.The LandCosta Rica’s land is divided into 3 land regions. The CentralHighlands has 2 large areas of fertile farmland.

The Meseta Entral is CostaRica’s heartland. About 75% of the people live there. Daytime temperaturesrange from 70 to 80 degrees. The Carribean Lowlands are the second region. It is a wide band ofswampy, tropical jungles.

The daytime temperatures can reach about 100degrees. Yearly rainfall is from 150 to 200 inches.The Pacific Coastal Strip is the final region. Low mountains rise alongmost of its shore. Daytime temperatures range from 75 to 100 degrees. Annual rainfall is totalled to about 130 inches.