World Facts

Is Costa Rica in South America?

Costa Rica is part of Central America.

Contrary to common belief that Costa Rica is located in South America, the country is actually found in the Central American Isthmus, which forms a connection between North America and South America. The Republic of Costa Rica is bordered by two countries, namely Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the southeast, as well as the Caribbean Sea to the northeast and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The country covers 51,100 square kilometers.

Location of Costa Rica

Many people draw a conclusion that Costa Rica is located in South America. This is based on the presumption that every country located in Central America is actually part of South America. Another school of thought leading to the assumption is in relation to the Isthmus which connects South America and North America. This geographic location of Costa Rica within the Isthmus makes people conclude that the country is part of South America. These conclusions are not valid because Central America and South America are geographically separate. In fact, while Central America is considered a politically separate region, it is actually the southernmost part of the continent of North America

Central America is a portion of land that connects the two regions of North America and South America. Central America is composed of seven countries namely Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Central America also includes the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot that includes several islands. South America, on the other hand, is a continent in the Southern Hemisphere. The continent is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the east and north while the west is bordered by the Pacific Ocean. In the northwest lies the Caribbean Sea and North America. The continent has twelve sovereign states, non-sovereign places like British Overseas Territory and the Falkland Islands and consists of some part of France (French Guiana).

Governance of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is governed through the 7 provinces which are further divided into Cantons each ruled by a mayor elected every 4 years. Politically, the country is under the framework of a presidential representative democratic republic embracing multiparty democracy. The executive power is vested in the president who chairs the cabinet. The legislative assembly and the judicially operates independently. Politically, Costa Rica is one of the stable countries in Latin America embracing strong constitutional checks and balances. Institutional oversight is overseen by the comptroller general, the Ombudsman, and the procurator general to ensure the autonomy of the government organs.

Economy of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is classified as an economically stable country in Central America. The GDP is moderately high. The major concern of the government at the moment is how to minimize the growing debts and how to raise funds to meet the budget deficit. The once agricultural dependent economy has diversified to other sectors such as pharmaceuticals, ecotourism, finance and foreign company investments through the Free Trade Zones (FTZ). The country has minimal trade barriers hence has numerous trade agreements with other countries globally.

Demographics of Costa Rica

The population stands at 4.95 million hence a population density of 84 people per square miles. The largest city which also serves as the capital is San Jose where more than 288,000 people live. Other major cities are Puerto Limón, Alajuela and Heredia. Majority of the people are whites making up to 83% of the population. Others are mulattoes, Native Americans, and blacks. Christianity is a major religion.

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