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Costa Rica At a Glance


Each color in the flag represents Costa Rica ideals. Blue: the sky, opportunities within reach and spiritual desires; white is clear thinking, happiness and peace; red expresses the warmth of the people and their love of life.

Population: 4.7 million

Urban population: 64%

Labor force: 2.2 million

Capital: San José (70 percent of the population lives in the greater area)

Other large metros: Puerto Limón, San Francisco (Heredia), Alajuela, Liberia

Ethnic groups: 83% white or mestizo

People referred to as: ticos (not ricans)

Official language: Spanish

Religion: 76% Roman Catholic

Median age: 30 (6.8% of population is 65 and over)

Literacy rate: 96%

GDP: $61.4 billion (2013 figure)

GDP by sector: agriculture, 6.2%; industry, 21.3%; services 72.5%

Largest import and export partner: U.S.

Unemployment rate: 7.9%

Franchise market: 221 concepts, 183 of which are international, mostly from the U.S.

Jobs created by franchising: 21,332

Ease of doing business: ranked 83 of 189 economies (World Bank ranking is for Central America as a whole. San José is ranked secondbehind Panama City for ease of doing business.)

One U.S. dollar is worth 533.64 Costa Rican colónes.

Corruption ranking: 47 out of 175 countries

Poverty level: 20-25%

Electricity production: 9.473 billion kWh (consumption is 8.5)

No. of cell phones: 6.151 million

Internet country code: .cr

Dates: written day, month, year

No. of airports with paved runways: 47 (out of a total of 161 airports in the country)

Largest international airport: San Juantamaria Airport (SJO) in Alajuela

No. of Internet users: 46 percent of population (compare this to 74% in Puerto Rico and 43% in Panama)

Area code: 011 + 506 + local number

Time zone: 2 hours behind EST

Embassy address: 104 San José, Costa Rica

Embassy phone: +506 2519 2000

Visa: not required for tourism; but must have a passport in good condition (immigration may deny entry if passport is damaged in any way); proof of outward-bound travel from Costa Rica

Inoculations: No special requirements

Rules of the road: A driver involved in a car accident may be prevented from leaving the country until all injury claims have been settled.

Other countries to be visited on the Central American trade mission: El Salvador and Guatemala

Sources: CIA Country Profiles, World Bank Group, Wikipedia, U.S. State Department, Transparency International, “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands

Tips for doing business

  • Most Costa Rican business people speak English, but all written correspondence should be translated into Spanish;
  • Face-to-face contact is preferred over calls or email;
  • Be on time for meetings, Costa Ricans are punctual;
  • Favored treatment is given to kin.

Source: Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands


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