The Republic of Costa Rica is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the North, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island.
Its population is around 4.5 million inhabitants and the capital city is San José.
There are two hypothesis regarding the origin of the name “Costa Rica” (Rich Coast): it may have first applied by Christopher Columbus who arrived on the coast of Costa Rica during his voyage in 1502, or the conquistador Gil Gonzalez Davila who arrived on the west coast in 1522.
Costa Rica became a Spanish colony in the 16th century and later in September 1821, after the final Spanish defeat in the Mexican War of Independence (1810-21), the authorities in Guatemala declared the independence of all of Central America.
The country abolished its army in 1949, becoming the first of only a few sovereign nations without an army.
It has been cited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as having attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels.
Although agriculture is an important sector with coffee plantations, pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, software development and ecotourism have become prime industries in Costa Rica’s economy.
It was twice ranked the best performing country in the New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index, which measures environmental sustainability and identified as the greenest country in the world in 2009.
The country has only about 0.1% of the world’s landmass but it contains 5% if the world’s biodiversity. Around 25% of the country’s land area is in protected national parks and protected areas.
Costa Rica has successfully managed to diminish deforestation to almost zero by 2005.
The Corcovado National Park is internationally renowned among ecologist for its amazing biodiversity.
The country is strongly based on sustainable development insofar as 93% of its energy comes from renewable sources. Likewise, in May 2007, the Costa Rican government announced its intention to become 100% carbon neutral by 2021.