Costa Rica is located in Central America with Nicaragua to its north and Panama to its south. Its territory is 19,652 square miles (51,022 square kilometers) plus 227 square miles (589 sqare kilometers) of territorial waters. Volcanic mountains - several of which produce sporadic eruptions - run northwest to southeast, dividing Costa Rica into Pacific and Atlantic zones.
The capital, San José, is on the meseta central, a plateau twenty-five miles by twelve miles (40 kilometers by 20 kilometers).
Costa Rica's broken topography creates myriad microenvironments. One-quarter of the territory endures practically in its wild state with rainforests, dry tropical forest, and savannas. Costa Rica protects 23% of it’s national territory within the protected areas system and has a level of biodiversity - 4 to 7 percent of the world total - unmatched by any other nation its size.
The most important export goods of Costa Rica include: coffee, sugar cane, pineapple, banana, papaya and ornamental plants.
Further export products are textiles and computer parts.
Tourism is one of the main economic activities in the country, offering employment to thousands of Costa Ricans.
Flora and Fauna
Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.1% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity . Around 25% of the country's land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world.
Around 800 species of birds have been identified in Costa Rica. 12.000 plant species grow in Costa Rica. 1.200 of these are orchid species and 3000 are different kinds of hardwoods.
Costa Rica is also a center of biological diversity for reptiles and amphibians, including the world's fastest living lizard, the spiny-tailed iguana.
The only official language is Spanish. Spanish is spoken as mother tongue by 97% of the population. On the Caribbean Coast the people speak the Jamaican form of the Patois and only in a few indigenous communities are the native languages spoken.
English is a language commonly taught in educational institutions, as are French and German, and nowadays also Chinese.
The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 97%, one of the highest in Latin America. Elementary and high schools are found throughout the country in practically every community. Universal public education is guaranteed in the constitution. Primary education is obligatory, and both preschool and high school are free. There are both state and private universities, with public universities traditionally being regarded as the best quality available in the country.