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Although explored by the Spanish early in the 16th century, initial attempts at colonizing Costa Rica proved unsuccessful due to a combination of factors, including: disease from mosquito-infested swamps, brutal heat, resistance by natives, and pirate raids. It was not until 1563 that a permanent settlement of Cartago was established in the cooler, fertile central highlands. The area remained a colony for some two and a half centuries. In 1821, Costa Rica became one of several Central American provinces that jointly declared their independence from Spain. Two years later it joined the United Provinces of Central America, but this federation disintegrated in 1838, at which time Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence. Since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred the country's democratic development. In 1949, Costa Rica dissolved its armed forces. Although it still maintains a large agricultural sector, Costa Rica has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism industries. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.


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Government

Country name
Conventional long form Republic of Costa Rica
Conventional short form Costa Rica
Local long form Republica de Costa Rica
Local short form Costa Rica

Government type
Democratic republic

Capital
Name San Jose
Geographic coordinates 9 56 N, 84 05 W
Time difference
UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions
7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose

Independence
15 September 1821 (from Spain)

Constitution
7 November 1949

Legal system
Civil law system based on Spanish civil code; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court

International law organization participation
Accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Suffrage
18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch
Chief of state
President Laura CHINCHILLA Miranda (since 8 May 2010); First Vice President Alfio PIVA Mesen (since 8 May 2010); Second Vice President Luis LIBERMAN Ginsburg (since 8 May 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Head of government
President Laura CHINCHILLA Miranda (since 8 May 2010); First Vice President Alfio PIVA Mesen (since 8 May 2010); Second Vice President Luis LIBERMAN Ginsburg (since 8 May 2010)
Cabinet
Cabinet selected by the president
Elections
President and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single four-year term; election last held on 7 February 2010 (next to be held in February 2014)
Election results
Laura CHINCHILLA Miranda elected president; percent of vote - Laura CHINCHILLA Miranda (PLN) 46.7%; Otton SOLIS (PAC) 25.1%, Otto GUEVARA Guth (ML) 20.8%

Legislative branch
Unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (57 seats; members elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
Elections
Last held on 7 February 2010 (next to be held in February 2014)
Election results
Percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PLN 23, PAC 10, ML 9, PUSC 6, PASE 4, other 5

Judicial branch
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (22 justices are elected for renewable eight-year terms by the Legislative Assembly)

Political parties and leaders
Accessibility Without Exclusion or PASE [Oscar Andres LOPEZ Arias]; Citizen Action Party or PAC [Elizabeth FONSECA]; Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Gerardo Justo OROZCO Alvarez]; Frente Amplio [Jose MERINO del Rio]; Libertarian Movement Party or PML [Otto GUEVARA Guth]; National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes]; National Liberation Party or PLN [Bernal JIMENEZ]; Patriotic Alliance [Mariano FIGUERES Olsen]; Popular Vanguard [Trino BARRANTES Araya]; Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Gerardo VARGAS]

Political pressure groups and leaders
Authentic Confederation of Democratic Workers or CATD (Communist Party affiliate); Chamber of Coffee Growers; Confederated Union of Workers or CUT (Communist Party affiliate); Costa Rican Confederation of Democratic Workers or CCTD (Liberation Party affiliate); Costa Rican Exporter's Chamber or CADEXCO; Costa Rican Solidarity Movement; Costa Rican Union of Private Sector Enterprises or UCCAEP; Federation of Public Service Workers or FTSP; National Association for Economic Development or ANFE; National Association of Educators or ANDE; National Association of Public and Private Employees or ANEP; Rerum Novarum or CTRN (PLN affiliate)

International organization participation
BCIE, CACM, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the us
Chief of mission
Ambassador Shanon Muni FIGUERES Boggs
Chancery
2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone [1] (202) 480-2200
FAX [1] (202) 265-4795
Consulate(s) general
Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico)

Diplomatic representation from the us
Chief of mission
Ambassador Anne Slaughter ANDREW
Embassy
Calle 120 Avenida O, Pavas, San Jose
Mailing address APO AA 34020
Telephone [506] 2519-2000
FAX [506] 2519-2305

Flag description
Five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white elliptical disk toward the hoist side of the red band; Costa Rica retained the earlier blue-white-blue flag of Central America until 1848 when, in response to revolutionary activity in Europe, it was decided to incorporate the French colors into the national flag and a central red stripe was added; today the blue color is said to stand for the sky, opportunity, and perseverance, white denotes peace, happiness, and wisdom, while red represents the blood shed for freedom, as well as the generosity and vibrancy of the people
Note
Somewhat resembles the flag of North Korea; similar to the flag of Thailand but with the blue and red colors reversed

National symbol(s)
Clay-colored robin known as Yiguirro

National anthem
Name
"Himno Nacional de Costa Rica" (National Anthem of Costa Rica)
Lyrics/music
Jose Maria ZELEDON Brenes/Manuel Maria GUTIERREZ
Note
Adopted 1949; the anthem's music was originally written for an 1853 welcome ceremony for diplomatic missions from the United States and United Kingdom; the lyrics were added in 1903


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  Costa Rica (San Jose):


  GPS points from Costa Rica (San Jose)

Rio Corobici Provincia De Guanacaste

Piedra Grande Provincia De Limon

Rio Taranta Provincia De Guanacaste

Isla Yglesias Provincia De Puntarenas

Hacienda Pelon Guanacaste

Concepcion Provincia De Heredia

Robles Provincia De Alajuela

Platanal Provincia De Guanacaste




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