Government: Costa Rica is governed in much the same way as the U.S. Like us, they rely on a government that consists of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, thus creating a system of checks and balances. There are some important differences, however. For example, the executive branch is headed by a President and two Vice Presidents. They serve four-year terms and cannot be reelected. Congress consists of 57 deputies who serve four-year nonconsecutive terms. There are 22 Supreme Court judges who serve eight-year terms. There are over 30 different political parties but only two have held office since the drafting of the constitution. The National Liberation Party and the Social Christian Unity Party typically trade power every election or so.

Military: Unless you count the army ants, Costa Rica has had no military force of any kind since the drafting of the constitution in 1949! Costa Rica is known as the ‘country without an army’.

Economy: Costa Rica enjoys a relatively stable economy compared to that of other Central American countries. However, until the introduction of coffee and bananas, in the middle of the 19th century, Costa Rica was an extremely poor nation. These agricultural exports began to pull the small country out of its impoverished state and are still important today. In the mid 1990s, tourism overtook agriculture as the major source of revenue. Then, in 1998, the electronics industry surpassed tourism as Costa Rica’s largest earner. This was, in large part, due to the Intel corporation opening a plant in the mid 1990s.

Population: According to the last census (July 2000) Costa Rica contained 3,810,179 people. Approximately 3 million people live in or around San Jose leaving much of the rest of the country relatively sparsely populated.

Money: The Costa Rican currency is called the Colon or Colones (plural) and is named for Christopher Columbus or Cristobal Colon in Spanish.
Check out the current exchange rate.