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Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Summary

A former Spanish colony, Costa Rica gained independence in 1838.1 Its location, situated between the Caribbean and the Pacific near the equator, contains one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. This provides means for their economy to export farming products and brings in a plethora of tourists each year.1 Although corruption rates are low and the government system is much stronger than surrounding Central American countries, poverty levels have not lowered in decades and discrimination based on ethnic background and gender is common.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cs.html

Demographics

Nationality
Costa Rican
Population
4,695,942 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Costa Rica Subcases

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Costa Rica is spotted with mountain chains, volcanoes, and diverse terrain, including two coastlines and rainforests.1With 500,000 different species, Costa Rica is home to 6% of the world’s biodiversity, with 26% of the country’s territory being protected in nature preserves.2 These protected forests have successfully reversed the effects of years of deforestation for farming.3 Although known as a global leader in environmental policies, Costa Rica has difficulty implementing programs to reduce its carbon footprint and reduce the amount of dirty wastewater draining into forests.4

Family

Regional immigration to Costa Rica is popular, and over 9% of the population is foreign born.1 Families have, on average, two children, and many households units are multigenerational.1 Children often live at home until they get married or finish their university degree. Gender inequality is still common, and men are the breadwinners in families while women are expected to take care of the home and children or perform significantly lower paying jobs.2 Domestic abuse is common in families, and many cases go without any legal consideration with only 5% of complaints receiving follow up action.3

Human Rights

There are multiple government institutions in Costa Rica that promote human rights such as gender equality, adequate employment, and education opportunities.1 Despite these efforts, there are accusations of police brutality, poor prison conditions, and law enforcement agencies being infiltrated by organized crime circles.2 Indigenous, African, and other minority populations still face discrimination in employment and are subject to land seizure.2 Trafficking remains an issue, and U.S. Department of State issued a report in 2015 that reported no convictions of traffickers and none of the assigned fund had been used to combat the issue.2

Education

98% of the population is literate, and school is required until ninth grade.1 There is near universal primary school attendance, but there is a lack of infrastructure for secondary schools causing only 40% of people to complete secondary education.2 This is leaving a gap between the amount of advanced jobs available and the amount of people who are educated enough to do them. There are numerous accredited universities, the biggest being the University of Costa Rica and The Autonomous University of Central America, and these institutions host many international students on exchange programs.3

Poverty

The poverty rate has remained stagnant at around 20% for over two decades.1 However, economic inequality is growing, even with increased social welfare programs and reforms, and this inequality is the greatest challenge to decrease poverty rates.2

Religion

90% of Costa Ricans are Christians with 76% being Roman Catholics and 14% Evangelical Protestant.1 Roman Catholicism is the official state religion, receiving a small part of the national budget, but Costa Ricans are free to practice whatever religion they choose.2 Even amongst those who are not religious, Catholic symbols such as pendants and pictures of saints are common in most homes, and funerals, weddings, and baptisms are almost all performed in a traditional Catholic manner.3

Clean Water

8% of rural citizens do not have access to clean water in their home, and overall 90% of the population has access to reliable clean water.1

Economy

Bananas, coffee, and sugar exports are the backbone of the Costa Rican economy, making it wealthier than many of its Central American neighbors. The industrial manufacturing and specialized products industries are growing, and it also relies on tourism for a significant amount of its GDP.1 The GDP has not stopped growing for two decades, and Costa Rica is considered by many to be the example of developmental success.2 Economic inclusion and the high cost of living are two problems threatening their continued success, but the government has committed to implementing social welfare programs and having complete transparency.2

Government

A president, two vice presidents, and a bicameral Legislative Assembly are elected every four years, but Costa Rica remains to be the only country in the region without a standing army.1 Though not free of corruption and completely transparent, government officials are held accountable to their constituents, and citizens have access to most information.2

Health

Health in Costa Rica is impressive for a country with a tropical climate. Malaria and waterborne tropical diseases have virtually been eliminated.1 In 2015 and 2016, the Zika virus was found in Costa Rica in pregnant mothers and is linked to birth defects.2 Public health care is available to all residents and citizens. There are ten major hospitals in the country, and clinics are found in most villages.3

Children

The Costa Rican Ministry of Culture and Youth is responsible for overseeing youth programs throughout the country such as theater, sports, and academic enrichment programs.1 Soccer and water sports are the most common activities for children to play. It is not uncommon to find youth living with their families well into adulthood, and many of their closest friends are commonly relatives.2

Animals

Because of its location, Costa Rica is home to a vast array of species, including South American animals like anteaters and monkeys, North American animals such as deer and foxes, and tropical rainforest species like sloths and iguanas.1 Seven different species of sea turtles are found in Costa Rica, but five of these are endangered species with their habitats being destroyed by human activity.2

Costa Rica

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