Introduction

Situated in the geographic centre of the Americas, Costa Rica shares borders with Nicaragua to the Northwest and Panama to the Southeast, and is bordered on the South by the Pacific Ocean and on the North by the Caribbean Sea. It is small in area (51,060 sq km), but nevertheless it is host to an enormous biodiversity.

Population

The population of Costa Rica is approximately 4.4 Million, more than one million living in the Central Valley.

Political Structure

Costa Rica's democracy and social policies have the 1949 constitution as their cornerstone. This document guarantees Costa Ricans freedom of expression and mobility, and upholds the sanctity of human life and private property. Costa Rica's democratic national government is made up of three separate branches: legislative, executive and judicial.

Executive Branch: Presidential elections take place every four years and the president is elected by popular vote. No president can serve in the presidency for more than four years -- incumbent presidents and ex-presidents cannot be voted into office. The president appoints two vice-presidents and 20 cabinet members. The president must be elected with at least 40 percent of the popular vote or a runoff election is held

Legislative Branch: Costa Rica has a unicameral legislative assembly with 57 seats. Representatives are elected by popular vote. The legislature has six permanent commissions which oversee agriculture and natural resources, economic affairs, government and administration, budgeting and taxation, judicial affairs and social affairs. The legislative assembly can override presidential decisions by two-thirds majority vote and is also responsible for the declaration of war and selection of Supreme Court Judges. Legislators can be re-elected, but only after spending one term out of office.

Judicial Branch: The judicial branch is responsible for administering justice in Costa Rica, and is made up of the Supreme Court, appellate courts and trial courts. There are 22 magistrates, selected by the legislative assembly every eight years. They can be re elected.

Infrastructure and Economy

The economy has traditionally been based on agricultural commodities such as coffee, cacao, bananas, sugar and beef. In the recent years successful efforts have been made to introduce new exports, services and tourism.

Language

Spanish is the official and spoken language. English is also spoken widely in urban areas and is often used in commerce and international trade.

Currency

Costa Rican Colon ()

Exchange Control

None.

Type of Law

Based on French Civil Law.

Principal Corporate Legislation

Commercial Code, Law No. 3284, passed on September 19, 1964, and its subsequent amendments.

 

 

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