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Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is a republic in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the east-southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Costa Rica was the first country in the world to constitutionally abolish its army. Among Latin American countries, Costa Rica ranks 4th in terms of the 2007 Human Development Index, and 48th worldwide. Costa Rica is ranked 5th in the world in terms of the 2008 Environmental Performance Index, up from the 15th place in 2006. In 2007 the government of Costa Rica stated that they want to be the first country to become carbon neutral by 2021.

› Facts and figures

  • Costa Rica mapOfficial Name: Republic of Costa Rica
  • Area: 51.100 Km2
  • Population: 4.509.392 (2009)
  • Capital City: San Jose
  • Currency: Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
  • Latitude/Longitude: (Capital City) 9º 56' N, 84º 05' W
  • Languages: Spanish (official), English
  • National Day: September 15th
  • Religions: Catholic (76.3%), Evangelical (13.7%), none (3.2%), others
  • Climate: Costa Rica's tropical climate is pleasant throughout the year, with prevailing trade winds helping to cool down much of the coastal areas. March through May are the hottest months, while somewhat cooler temperatures are the norm, December, January and February. As usual in mountainous countries, temperatures vary by elevation. In Costa Rica, the average high temperature in the elevated Central Valley (I.E. San Jose) is near 72° F; in the lows 80s along the Caribbean coastline, and approaching 90° F on the Pacific coast. The country receives copious amounts of rain, with an annual yearly average near 100 inches (250cm).

› Culture

Costa Ricans often refer to themselves as tico (masculine) or tica (feminine). "Tico" comes from the popular local usage of "tico" and "tica" as diminutive suffixes (e.g., "momentico" instead of "momentito"). The phrase "Pura Vida!" (approximately translatable to "This is living!", literal meaning "Pure Life!" is a ubiquitous motto in Costa Rica.

PSSC Thematic Areas and Costa Rica

› Gender

Over the last years, progress has been made in Costa Rica concerning women rights, integration into the labour market, political representation in the Congress and Government. At political levels, the norm of gender equity is widely accepted. However, in daily life and culture, lot remains to be done. “Machismo” attitudes are still wide spread, as well as the phenomenon of domestic violence. Prostitution problems are increasing, under the influence of a bad focused tourism promotion by certain operators.

› Access to sustainable energy and efficient energy use

The economy of Costa Rica requires more energy everyday for its development, while household energy consumption increases progressively with changing lifestyles. Production of energy has a high impact on the environment and may contribute to the continuous deterioration of natural resources.

In Costa Rica, 70% of the total electric energy is generated by hydro-electrical plants, 18% by fossil fuels generators, 8% by geo-thermal plants and 4% by wind-powered plants. There is an initiative to incorporate the cost of water protection in the energy price. The energy sector is also the one generating more greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, within the energy sector, transportation represents the strongest source of emissions. But also, a high percentage of emissions is produced.

› Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity

Costa Rica has just started the design of an environmental services payment program specific to the area of biodiversity which could be replicated in Bhutan and Benin.

› Sustainable production and consumption chains

Bhutan, Benin and Costa Rica share patterns of constraints related to the generation of income and increasing employment through sustainable supply chains. Rural production systems are either geared towards self-sufficiency or focus on environmentally unfriendly commodity production. Polices to specifically promote sustainable production initiatives are scarce. Producer organisations often lack the human capacities and organisational strengths to adequately support producers in their quest for more sustainable production systems and markets for their products. Export of products to Europe is frequently hampered by high quality standards, regulations and import restrictions.

Costa Rica has gained experience with the production, commercialisation and certification of organically grown products and their export to Europe.

› Sustainable tourism

All three PSC partner countries dispose of natural, social and cultural resources that are valuable assets for tourism. While tourism is a major source of foreign currency and may contribute to income generation, its benefits are often poorly distributed while communities that are object of tourism may be confronted with serious side effects. These may include, among others: habitat destruction and other forms of pressure on natural resources; social disruption; prostitution; child abuse; and cultural erosion.

Local communities and tourism organisations often lack the knowledge and information on how to reduce the negative effects and enhance the sustainability of tourism operations, thus contributing to local income generation.

Each of the three countries has its own approach to developing the tourism sector and has gained experience with the mitigation of side effects.

Costa Rica has a well-developed private sector that has taken various steps towards corporate responsibility. This year the Ministry of Tourism began to promote a new product which is community-based rural tourism.

› Costa Rica links

Taken from www.worldatlas.com and www.en.wikipedia.org