Republic of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the smallest, but economically strongest and politically stable countries in Central America. Agriculture, as the most important economic factor in the agricultural country, is oriented towards the cultivation of the export crops coffee and bananas.

Costa Rica tries to reduce its dependence on the world market and its foreign debt by developing tourism.

Costa Rica lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean on the mainland bridge of Central America, which is only 150 km wide at its narrowest point.

It is 500 km from the country’s northern border with Nicaragua to the Panamanian border in the southeast.

Costa Rica is the third smallest country in Central America and comparable in area to the state of Lower Saxony.

The capital San José is located at an altitude of over 1000 m in a high valley of the Cordilleras.

Surface shape

Costa Rica consists of about one third each of lowlands, mountains and highlands. If you cross the country from southwest to northeast, three mountain ranges of the Cordilleras rise up after the narrow coastal plain on the Pacific . The mountain ranges are of volcanic origin. Of the more than 100 to over 3000 m high volcanoes in the country, seven are still active today.

They and frequent violent earthquakes indicate, as in other Central American countries, the location of this region at the interface between two large plates of the earth’s crust. Approximately in the center of the country there is more than 1000 m above sea level between the mountain ranges. M. an approximately 50 km long undulating plateau, the Valle Central. Because of its fertile soil and its pleasantly mild climate, more than half of Costa Rica’s residents live here on 5% of the land area. Towards the Caribbean Sea, the mountains merge into an extensive, humid and hot lowland. This up to 100 km wide Caribbean coastal plain is largely covered by tropical rainforest and only sparsely populated.

Climate / vegetation

Costa Rica is entirely in the tropics.

It is one of the rainiest countries on earth. The north-east trade wind brings the steep mountain flanks and the lowlands in front of it rainfall of up to 10,000 liters / m² annually. Even the Valle Central, which is in the rain shadow, and the Pacific coastal plain still receive 2000 liters despite the dry season.

As in all tropical countries, there are no seasonal temperature fluctuations, but there are large temperature differences depending on the altitude. While in the lowlands the annual average temperatures hardly drop below 27 °C, they are around 1000 m above sea level in the highlands at a mild 20 °C. With increasing altitude they then drop further down to a minimum of around 10 °C. Due to the variety of climatic conditions, there is also a species-rich vegetation in the country . It ranges from dry forests in the northwestern part of the Pacific coastal plain to extensive tropical rainforests in the other low-lying areas to subtropical vegetation on the highlands and barren grasslands in the highlands of the mountains.

Important data about the country

Surface: 51 100 km²
Residents: 4.3 million
Population density: 84 residents / km²
Growth of population: 1.9% per year
Life expectancy:
(men / women)
76/80 years
Form of government: Presidential Republic
Population groups: 87% whites, 8% mestizos, still blacks, Asians and Indians (3%)
Languages: Spanish as the official language
Religions: Catholics 85% (official state religion), Protestants 14%
Climate: Tropical with high amounts of precipitation, moderate in the highlands, average temperatures in San José all year round around 20 °C
Land use: Pasture land 43%, forest 31%, arable land 13%
Main export goods: Coffee, bananas, cocoa, cane sugar, rice, meat, precious woods
Gross domestic product: US $ 17,427 million (2003)
Economic sectors:
(share of GDP 2003)
Industry 29%, agriculture 9%, services 62%
Gross National Product: US $ 4,300 / residents (2003)

According to Calculatorinc, the name Costa Rica (Spanish for “rich coast”) is said to have coined COLUMBUS when it landed in 1502, impressed by the gold jewelry of the Native Americans.

In a figurative sense, this is still true today, because in the crisis-ridden region, the economically and politically relatively stable developing country Costa Rica is known as the “Switzerland of Central America”.

The country, which is poor in raw materials, has remained agricultural.

About 60% of the export volume comes from agriculture. In small to medium-sized family businesses, the main export crops in the central highlands are coffee and, on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, mainly bananas, as well as rice and cocoa.

Costa Rica is the second largest banana exporter in the world after Ecuador. Coffee is also in demand on the world market for its quality.

Nevertheless, as a result of its dependence on export earnings on the world market, the country is suffering from the general fall in prices for agricultural products, especially coffee, and from the EU’s import restrictions for bananas. The foreign debt has increased sharply.

Since the funds for a thoroughgoing industrialization are lacking, the country relies on tourism as an economic growth factor. The attractive, diverse natural landscape of Costa Rica with now 30 national parks and protected areas, for example for the extremely rich bird life with over 850 species, offers good conditions for this.

When it comes to expanding tourism, the country relies less on mass tourism and more on gentle, so-called ecotourism.

Republic of Costa Rica