About to move to Costa Rica? Here is some general information on the country's economic, political, climatic and geographic situations.
Located in Central America, Costa Rica is deemed to be a tropical paradise for expatriation. It is even nicknamed Central America's Switzerland for its omnipresent natural and historical heritage along with its economic and political stability. To date, many people have taken the major step of settling there, whether to live and work, or to retire, for various reasons.
Indeed, besides its temperate climate all year round and its pleasant environment, Costa Rica has become a choice destination due to the affordable cost of living and medical care, the availability of activities related to nature, as well as its postcard beaches and breathtaking landscapes, including mountains which you can explore with your family.
Costa Rica also enjoys an undeniably stable political situation, along with low billing and tax rates, real estate investment opportunities and low staff-hiring costs. This is why Costa Rica, nowadays, hosts a large expatriate community, including many US nationals.
Costa Rica is a relatively small country, stretching over some 51,100 square kilometers. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, close to the Democratic Republic of Nicaragua in the North and Panama in the South. To date, its population amounts to nearly 5 million inhabitants. San Jose, the capital city, is the country's largest city.
Former Spanish colony, Costa Rica’s official language is Spanish. It is interesting to note that the population has been living in peace and the most perfect military neutrality for nearly 70 years.
Costa Rica is divided into seven administrative provinces, namely Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas and San Jose.
The World Bank portrays Costa Rica as being an economically successful country in many ways. Considered an upper-middle income countries, Costa Rica has been expanding economically for at least 25 years. Following the 80s, another transition period marked the beginning of a growth-oriented strategy, thanks to exports, openness to foreign investment and the gradual liberalization of trade.
Nowadays, Costa Rica's economy is diversified, combining centralization, government regulatory bodies and private companies. It specializes in several fields, among which you have pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, software development and eco-tourism. The production of bananas, apples and coffee also make a significant contribution to its economy.
In 2013, Costa Rica's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was recorded at 3.4%. According to estimations, this trend should not reverse in the coming years. In fact, it is expected to reach between 4.1% and 4.3% thanks to investment and consumption. Note that the Colon is Costa Rica's official currency.
Good to know:
Costa Rica is a member of the Central American Integration System (CACM) and the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA).
As you may have guessed, Costa Rica has been a sovereign nation for over a hundred years. Its motto is “¡Vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz!” – “Long life to work and peace!”. The actual political system is based on a democratic republic, whose President is the Head of the State and government. There are also two Vice Presidents and a cabinet which consists of 15 members. The President and the Vice-Presidents, as well as fifty-seven delegates of the Legislative Assembly are elected by popular vote for a four years mandate. Cabinet members are chosen by the President. Note that Costa Rica's political system is renowned for being one of Central America's most stable ones.
Executive powers are held by the President of the Republic. The unicameral legislative branch consists of 57 seats. Members of the legislative branch are elected by direct popular vote for a four years mandate.
Finally, the Supreme Court is Costa Rica's highest court of justice, holding the country's judicial power. The Supreme Court consists of 22 judges who are elected by the Legislative Assembly and subsidiary courts for an eight years mandate.
Climate and nature
Costa Rica has a very temperate climate which is divided into two seasons. The rainy season, although it rarely rains all day, lasts from May until mid-November. Summer, for its part, starts in mid-November until April. Temperatures are higher in coastal regions and lower in the mountain side.
Good to know:
Costa Rica has more than 10,000 plant species, 850 bird species, 800 butterfly species and 500 mammal, reptile and amphibian species. Therefore, a quarter of the country's land has been classified as protected areas and national parks.