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Costa Rica


Juan Santamaria Airport, beautiful mountain scenery, daily newspapers, national debt, domestic airlines

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The economy of Costa Rica remained agricultural through most of the 20th century, until manufacturing overtook agriculture in the 1990s in economic importance. Most of the country’s economic activity takes place on the central plateau. Overall living conditions in Costa Rica are high by Latin American standards, and the country has a large middle class.

In 2002 the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $16.8 billion, or $4,270 per person. GDP is a measure of the value of all goods and services a country produces. In 2006 annual budget figures showed revenues of $5.4 billion and expenditures of $4.9 billion. Controlling the national debt remains a problem for the government.


Costa Rica has developed its hydroelectric resources and no longer requires petroleum to meet any of its energy needs. By the end of the 20th century, it had become an exporter of electricity. A new hydroelectric plant under construction in the early 2000s would increase the country’s electricity exports.


Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination in Latin America. It has a stable government and fairly high standard of living as well as excellent beaches, beautiful mountain scenery, volcanoes, and stunning national parks. Birdwatchers are attracted by the country’s diverse bird life. Butterflies also abound. Most of the country’s tourists come from the United States.


Railroad lines in Costa Rica were severely damaged by an earthquake in the early 1990s and were shut down indefinitely. Roads total 35,330 km (21,953 mi); some 680 km (some 425 mi) of roadway forms a portion of the Inter-American Highway. San Jose is linked by road with the cities of the surrounding plateau region, and bus service is good. Several domestic airlines provide service within the country. Juan Santamaria Airport, which is located near San Jose, is served by the Costa Rican national airline and several foreign airlines.


In 2004 Costa Rica had 7 daily newspapers. There were 829 radio receivers and 248 televisions for every 1,000 residents. In 2005 Costa Rica had 321 telephone mainlines for every 1,000 people. Internet usage was growing steadily.


Agriculture employs 15 percent of the labor force while industry employs 22 percent. The remainder was employed in the public and private service sectors. Labor unions are relatively weak in Costa Rica.

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