Home

Nicaragua vs. Costa Rica

Introduction

NicaraguaCosta Rica
BackgroundThe Pacific coast of Nicaragua was settled as a Spanish colony from Panama in the early 16th century. Independence from Spain was declared in 1821 and the country became an independent republic in 1838. Britain occupied the Caribbean Coast in the first half of the 19th century, but gradually ceded control of the region in subsequent decades. Violent opposition to governmental manipulation and corruption spread to all classes by 1978 and resulted in a short-lived civil war that brought the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas led by Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra to power in 1979. Nicaraguan aid to leftist rebels in El Salvador prompted the US to sponsor anti-Sandinista contra guerrillas through much of the 1980s. After losing free and fair elections in 1990, 1996, and 2001, former Sandinista President Daniel ORTEGA was elected president in 2006, 2011, and most recently in 2016. Municipal, regional, and national-level elections since 2008 have been marred by widespread irregularities. Nicaragua's infrastructure and economy - hard hit by the earlier civil war and by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 - are being rebuilt, but democratic institutions have weakened under the ORTEGA administration as the president has garnered full control over all four branches of government: the presidency, the judicial, the National Assembly, and the Supreme Electoral Council.
Although explored by the Spanish early in the 16th century, initial attempts at colonizing Costa Rica proved unsuccessful due to a combination of factors, including disease from mosquito-infested swamps, brutal heat, resistance by natives, and pirate raids. It was not until 1563 that a permanent settlement of Cartago was established in the cooler, fertile central highlands. The area remained a colony for some two and a half centuries. In 1821, Costa Rica became one of several Central American provinces that jointly declared their independence from Spain. Two years later it joined the United Provinces of Central America, but this federation disintegrated in 1838, at which time Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence. Since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred the country's democratic development. In 1949, Costa Rica dissolved its armed forces. Although it still maintains a large agricultural sector, Costa Rica has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism industries. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.

Geography

NicaraguaCosta Rica
LocationCentral America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras
Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama
Geographic coordinates13 00 N, 85 00 W
10 00 N, 84 00 W
Map referencesCentral America and the Caribbean
Central America and the Caribbean
Areatotal: 130,370 sq km
land: 119,990 sq km
water: 10,380 sq km
total: 51,100 sq km
land: 51,060 sq km
water: 40 sq km
note: includes Isla del Coco
Area - comparativeslightly larger than Pennsylvania; slightly smaller than New York state
slightly smaller than West Virginia
Land boundariestotal: 1,253 km
border countries (2): Costa Rica 313 km, Honduras 940 km
total: 661 km
border countries (2): Nicaragua 313 km, Panama 348 km
Coastline910 km
1,290 km
Maritime claimsterritorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: natural prolongation
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climatetropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands
tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands
Terrainextensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes
coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major active volcanoes
Elevation extremesmean elevation: 298 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mogoton 2,438 m
mean elevation: 746 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m
Natural resourcesgold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish
hydropower
Land useagricultural land: 42.2%
arable land 12.5%; permanent crops 2.5%; permanent pasture 27.2%
forest: 25.3%
other: 32.5% (2011 est.)
agricultural land: 37.1%
arable land 4.9%; permanent crops 6.7%; permanent pasture 25.5%
forest: 51.5%
other: 11.4% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land1,990 sq km (2012)
1,015 sq km (2012)
Natural hazardsdestructive earthquakes; volcanoes; landslides; extremely susceptible to hurricanes
volcanism: significant volcanic activity; Cerro Negro (elev. 728 m), which last erupted in 1999, is one of Nicaragua's most active volcanoes; its lava flows and ash have been known to cause significant damage to farmland and buildings; other historically active volcanoes include Concepcion, Cosiguina, Las Pilas, Masaya, Momotombo, San Cristobal, and Telica
occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season and landslides; active volcanoes
volcanism: Arenal (elev. 1,670 m), which erupted in 2010, is the most active volcano in Costa Rica; a 1968 eruption destroyed the town of Tabacon; Irazu (elev. 3,432 m), situated just east of San Jose, has the potential to spew ash over the capital city as it did between 1963 and 1965; other historically active volcanoes include Miravalles, Poas, Rincon de la Vieja, and Turrialba
Environment - current issuesdeforestation; soil erosion; water pollution
deforestation and land use change, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching and agriculture; soil erosion; coastal marine pollution; fisheries protection; solid waste management; air pollution
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography - notelargest country in Central America; contains the largest freshwater body in Central America, Lago de Nicaragua
four volcanoes, two of them active, rise near the capital of San Jose in the center of the country; one of the volcanoes, Irazu, erupted destructively in 1963-65
Population distributionthe overwhelming majority of the population resides in the western half of the country, with much of the urban growth centered in the capital city of Managua; coastal areas also show large population clusters
roughly half of the nation's population resides in urban areas; the capital of San Jose is the largest city and home to approximately one-fifth of the population

Demographics

NicaraguaCosta Rica
Population5,966,798 (July 2016 est.)
4,872,543 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 27.88% (male 848,537/female 815,032)
15-24 years: 21.78% (male 653,113/female 646,497)
25-54 years: 39.42% (male 1,113,772/female 1,238,550)
55-64 years: 5.79% (male 160,165/female 185,385)
65 years and over: 5.12% (male 136,661/female 169,086) (2016 est.)
0-14 years: 22.82% (male 568,738/female 543,312)
15-24 years: 16.75% (male 416,046/female 399,931)
25-54 years: 43.99% (male 1,078,000/female 1,065,327)
55-64 years: 8.9% (male 211,670/female 222,183)
65 years and over: 7.54% (male 169,646/female 197,690) (2016 est.)
Median agetotal: 25.2 years
male: 24.3 years
female: 26 years (2016 est.)
total: 30.9 years
male: 30.4 years
female: 31.3 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate0.99% (2016 est.)
1.19% (2016 est.)
Birth rate17.9 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
15.7 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate5.1 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
4.6 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate-2.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.86 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 19 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 21.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 16 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
total: 8.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 73.2 years
male: 71.1 years
female: 75.5 years (2016 est.)
total population: 78.6 years
male: 75.9 years
female: 81.4 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate1.92 children born/woman (2016 est.)
1.9 children born/woman (2016 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.27% (2015 est.)
0.33% (2015 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Nicaraguan(s)
adjective: Nicaraguan
noun: Costa Rican(s)
adjective: Costa Rican
Ethnic groupsmestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%
white or mestizo 83.6%, mulato 6.7%, indigenous 2.4%, black of African descent 1.1%, other 1.1%, none 2.9%, unspecified 2.2% (2011 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS9,900 (2015 est.)
10,000 (2015 est.)
ReligionsRoman Catholic 51.6%, Evangelical 33.9%, other 1.5%, unspecified 12.9%, none 0.2% (2016 est.)
Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah's Witness 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%
HIV/AIDS - deaths300 (2015 est.)
200 (2015 est.)
LanguagesSpanish (official) 95.3%, Miskito 2.2%, Mestizo of the Caribbean coast 2%, other 0.5%
note: English and indigenous languages found on the Caribbean coast (2005 est.)
Spanish (official), English
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 82.8%
male: 82.4%
female: 83.2% (2015 est.)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.8%
male: 97.7%
female: 97.8% (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria
note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever
note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)
Education expenditures4.5% of GDP (2010)
7.6% of GDP (2015)
Urbanizationurban population: 58.8% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 1.96% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
urban population: 76.8% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 2.74% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Drinking water sourceimproved:
urban: 99.3% of population
rural: 69.4% of population
total: 87% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0.7% of population
rural: 30.6% of population
total: 13% of population (2015 est.)
improved:
urban: 99.6% of population
rural: 91.9% of population
total: 97.8% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0.4% of population
rural: 8.1% of population
total: 2.2% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility accessimproved:
urban: 76.5% of population
rural: 55.7% of population
total: 67.9% of population
unimproved:
urban: 23.5% of population
rural: 44.3% of population
total: 32.1% of population (2015 est.)
improved:
urban: 95.2% of population
rural: 92.3% of population
total: 94.5% of population
unimproved:
urban: 4.8% of population
rural: 7.7% of population
total: 5.5% of population (2015 est.)
Major cities - populationMANAGUA (capital) 956,000 (2015)
SAN JOSE (capital) 1.17 million (2015)
Maternal mortality rate150 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
25 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight5.7% (2007)
1.1% (2009)
Health expenditures9% of GDP (2014)
9.3% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density0.91 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
1.15 physicians/1,000 population (2013)
Hospital bed density0.9 beds/1,000 population (2012)
1.2 beds/1,000 population (2012)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate15.5% (2014)
24% (2014)
Child labor - children ages 5-14total number: 223,992
percentage: 14%
note: data represent children ages 5-17 (2005 est.)
total number: 39,082
percentage: 5% (2002 est.)
Demographic profileDespite being one of the poorest countries in Latin America, Nicaragua has improved its access to potable water and sanitation and has ameliorated its life expectancy, infant and child mortality, and immunization rates. However, income distribution is very uneven, and the poor, agriculturalists, and indigenous people continue to have less access to healthcare services. Nicaragua's total fertility rate has fallen from around 6 children per woman in 1980 to just above replacement level today, but the high birth rate among adolescents perpetuates a cycle of poverty and low educational attainment.
Nicaraguans emigrate primarily to Costa Rica and to a lesser extent the United States. Nicaraguan men have been migrating seasonally to Costa Rica to harvest bananas and coffee since the early 20th century. Political turmoil, civil war, and natural disasters from the 1970s through the 1990s dramatically increased the flow of refugees and permanent migrants seeking jobs, higher wages, and better social and healthcare benefits. Since 2000, Nicaraguan emigration to Costa Rica has slowed and stabilized. Today roughly 300,000 Nicaraguans are permanent residents of Costa Rica - about 75% of the foreign population - and thousands more migrate seasonally for work, many illegally.
Costa Rica's political stability, high standard of living, and well-developed social benefits system set it apart from its Central American neighbors. Through the government's sustained social spending - almost 20% of GDP annually - Costa Rica has made tremendous progress toward achieving its goal of providing universal access to education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and electricity. Since the 1970s, expansion of these services has led to a rapid decline in infant mortality, an increase in life expectancy at birth, and a sharp decrease in the birth rate. The average number of children born per women has fallen from about 7 in the 1960s to 3.5 in the early 1980s to below replacement level today. Costa Rica's poverty rate is lower than in most Latin American countries, but it has stalled at around 20% for almost two decades.
Costa Rica is a popular regional immigration destination because of its job opportunities and social programs. Almost 9% of the population is foreign-born, with Nicaraguans comprising nearly three-quarters of the foreign population. Many Nicaraguans who perform unskilled seasonal labor enter Costa Rica illegally or overstay their visas, which continues to be a source of tension. Less than 3% of Costa Rica's population lives abroad. The overwhelming majority of expatriates have settled in the United States after completing a university degree or in order to work in a highly skilled field.
Contraceptive prevalence rate80.4% (2011/12)
76.2% (2011)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 54.1
youth dependency ratio: 46.3
elderly dependency ratio: 7.8
potential support ratio: 12.8 (2015 est.)
total dependency ratio: 45.4
youth dependency ratio: 32.4
elderly dependency ratio: 12.9
potential support ratio: 7.7 (2015 est.)

Government

NicaraguaCosta Rica
Country name"conventional long form: Republic of Nicaragua
conventional short form: Nicaragua
local long form: Republica de Nicaragua
local short form: Nicaragua
etymology: Nicarao was the name of the largest indigenous settlement at the time of Spanish arrival; conquistador Gil GONZALEZ Davila, who explored the area (1622-23), combined the name of the community with the Spanish word ""agua"" (water), referring to the two large lakes in the west of the country (Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua)
"
"conventional long form: Republic of Costa Rica
conventional short form: Costa Rica
local long form: Republica de Costa Rica
local short form: Costa Rica
etymology: the name means ""rich coast"" in Spanish and was first applied in the early colonial period of the 16th century
"
Government typepresidential republic
presidential republic
Capitalname: Managua
geographic coordinates: 12 08 N, 86 15 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
name: San Jose
geographic coordinates: 9 56 N, 84 05 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions15 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento) and 2 autonomous regions* (regiones autonomistas, singular - region autonoma); Boaco, Carazo, Chinandega, Chontales, Costa Caribe Norte*, Costa Caribe Sur*, Esteli, Granada, Jinotega, Leon, Madriz, Managua, Masaya, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia, Rio San Juan, Rivas
7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose
Independence15 September 1821 (from Spain)
15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National holidayIndependence Day, 15 September (1821)
Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
Constitutionseveral previous; latest adopted 19 November 1986, effective 9 January 1987; amended several times, last in 2014 (2016)
previous 1825; latest effective 8 November 1949; amended many times, last in 2015 (2016)
Legal systemcivil law system; Supreme Court may review administrative acts
civil law system based on Spanish civil code; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court
Suffrage16 years of age; universal
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branchchief of state: President Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (since 10 January 2007); Vice President Rosario MURILLO Zambrana (since 10 January 2017); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (since 10 January 2007); Vice President Rosario MURILLO Zambrana (since 10 January 2017)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by simple majority popular vote for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 6 November 2016 (next to be held by November 2021)
election results: Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra reelected president; percent of vote - Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra (FSLN) 72.4%, Maximino RODRIGUEZ (PLC) 15%, Jose del Carmen ALVARADO (PLI) 4.5%, Saturnino CERRATO Hodgson (ALN) 4.3%, other 3.7%
chief of state: President Luis Guillermo SOLIS Rivera (since 8 May 2014); First Vice President Helio FALLAS Venega (since 8 May 2014); Second Vice President Ana Helena CHACON Echeverria (since 8 May 2014); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Luis Guillermo SOLIS Rivera (since 8 May 2014); First Vice President Helio FALLAS Venegas (since 8 May 2014); Second Vice President Ana Helena CHACON Echeverria (since 8 May 2014)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president
elections/appointments: president and vice presidents directly elected on the same ballot by modified majority popular vote (40% threshold) for a 4-year term (eligible for non-consecutive terms); election last held on 2 February 2014 with a runoff on 6 April 2014 (next to be held in February 2018)
election results: Luis Guillermo SOLIS Rivera elected president; percent of vote - Luis Guillermo SOLIS Rivera (PAC) 77.8%; Johnny ARAYA (PLN) 22.2%
Legislative branchdescription: unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (92 seats; 70 members in multi-seat constituencies and 20 members in a single nationwide constituency directly elected by proportional representation vote; 2 seats reserved for the previous president and the runner-up candidate in the previous presidential election; members serve 5-year terms;)
elections: last held on 6 November 2016 (next to be held by November 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FSLN 71, PLC 14, ALN 2, PLI 2, APRE 1, PC 1, YATAMA 1
description: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (57 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies - corresponding to the country's 7 provinces - by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 2 February 2014 (next to be held in February 2018)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PLN 18, PAC 13, FA 9, PUSC 8, PML 4, other 5
Judicial branchhighest court(s): Supreme Court or Corte Suprema de Justicia (consists of 16 judges organized into administrative, civil, criminal, and constitutional chambers)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges elected by the National Assembly to serve 5-year staggered terms
subordinate courts: Appeals Court; first instance civil, criminal, and military courts
highest court(s): Supreme Court of Justice (consists of 22 judges organized into 3 cassation chambers each with 5 judges, and the Constitutional Chamber with 7 judges)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court of Justice judges elected by the National Assembly for 8-year terms with renewal decided by the National Assembly
subordinate courts: appellate courts; trial courts; first instance and justice of the peace courts; Superior Electoral Tribunal
Political parties and leadersAlliance for the Republic or APRE [Carlos CANALES]
Conservative Party or PC [Erick CABEZAS and Alfredo CESAR]
Independent Liberal Party or PLI [vacant]
Liberal Constitutionalist Party or PLC [Maria Haydee OSUNA]
Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance or ALN [Alejandro MEJIA Ferreti]
Sandinista National Liberation Front or FSLN [Jose Daniel ORTEGA Saavedra]
Sandinista Renovation Movement or MRS [Ana Margarita VIJIL]
Sons of Mother Earth or YATAMA [Brooklin RIVERA]
Accessibility Without Exclusion or PASE [Oscar Andres LOPEZ Arias]
Broad Front (Frente Amplio) or PFA [Ana Patricia MORA]
Citizen Action Party or PAC [Olivier PEREZ Gonzalez]
Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Gerardo Justo OROZCO Alvarez]
Libertarian Movement Party or ML [Victor Danilo CUBERO Corrales]
National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes]
National Liberation Party or PLN [Bernal JIMENEZ]
National Restoration Party or PRN [Carlos AVENDANO]
Patriotic Alliance [Jorge ARAYA Westover]
Popular Vanguard [Humberto VARGAS]
Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Gerardo VARGAS]
Political pressure groups and leadersNational Workers Front or FNT (a Sandinista umbrella group of eight labor unions including: Farm Workers Association or ATC, Health Workers Federation or FETASALUD, Heroes and Martyrs Confederation of Professional Associations or CONAPRO, National Association of Educators of Nicaragua or ANDEN, National Union of Employees or UNE, National Union of Farmers and Ranchers or UNAG, Sandinista Workers Central or CST, and Union of Journalists of Nicaragua or UPN)
Nicaraguan Workers' Central or CTN (an independent labor union)
Permanent Congress of Workers or CPT (an umbrella group of four non-Sandinista labor unions including: Autonomous Nicaraguan Workers Central or CTN-A, Confederation of Labor Unification or CUS, Independent General Confederation of Labor or CGT-I, and Labor Action and Unity Central or CAUS)
Superior Council of Private Enterprise or COSEP (a confederation of business groups)
Authentic Confederation of Democratic Workers or CATD (Communist Party affiliate)
Chamber of Coffee Growers
Confederated Union of Workers or CUT (Communist Party affiliate)
Confederation of Workers Rerum Novarum or CTRN (National Libertion Party affiliate)
Costa Rican Confederation of Democratic Workers or CCTD (National Libertion Party affiliate)
Costa Rican Exporter's Chamber or CADEXCO
Costa Rican Solidarity Movement
Costa Rican Union of Private Sector Enterprises or UCCAEP
Federation of Public Service Workers or FTSP
National Association for Economic Development or ANFE
National Association of Educators or ANDE
National Association of Public and Private Employees or ANEP
International organization participationBCIE, CACM, CD, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, Petrocaribe, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
BCIE, CACM, CD, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS, OIF (observer), OPANAL, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the UShief of mission: Ambassador Francisco Obadiah CAMPBELL Hooker (since 23 June 2010)
chancery: 1627 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 939-6570, 6573
FAX: [1] (202) 939-6545
consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco
chief of mission: Ambassador Roman MACAYA Hayes (since 18 September 2014)
chancery: 2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 480-2200
FAX: [1] (202) 265-4795
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Tampa (FL), Washington DC
consulate(s): San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the USchief of mission: Ambassador Laura F. DOGU (since 2 September 2015)
embassy: Kilometer 5.5 Carretera Sur, Managua
mailing address: American Embassy Managua, APO AA 34021
telephone: [505] 2252-7100, 2252-7888; 2252-7634 (after hours)
FAX: [505] 2252-7250
chief of mission: Ambassador Stafford Fitzgerald HANEY (since 30 June 2015)
embassy: Calle 98 Via 104, Pavas, San Jose
mailing address: APO AA 34020
telephone: [506] 2519-2000
FAX: [506] 2519-2305
Flag descriptionthree equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, and blue with the national coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms features a triangle encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE NICARAGUA on the top and AMERICA CENTRAL on the bottom; the banner is based on the former blue-white-blue flag of the Federal Republic of Central America; the blue bands symbolize the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, while the white band represents the land between the two bodies of water
note: similar to the flag of El Salvador, which features a round emblem encircled by the words REPUBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMERICA CENTRAL centered in the white band; also similar to the flag of Honduras, which has five blue stars arranged in an X pattern centered in the white band
five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white elliptical disk placed toward the hoist side of the red band; Costa Rica retained the earlier blue-white-blue flag of Central America until 1848 when, in response to revolutionary activity in Europe, it was decided to incorporate the French colors into the national flag and a central red stripe was added; today the blue color is said to stand for the sky, opportunity, and perseverance, white denotes peace, happiness, and wisdom, while red represents the blood shed for freedom, as well as the generosity and vibrancy of the people
note: somewhat resembles the flag of North Korea; similar to the flag of Thailand but with the blue and red colors reversed
National anthem"name: ""Salve a ti, Nicaragua"" (Hail to Thee, Nicaragua)
lyrics/music: Salomon Ibarra MAYORGA/traditional, arranged by Luis Abraham DELGADILLO
note: although only officially adopted in 1971, the music was approved in 1918 and the lyrics in 1939; the tune, originally from Spain, was used as an anthem for Nicaragua from the 1830s until 1876
"
"name: ""Himno Nacional de Costa Rica"" (National Anthem of Costa Rica)
lyrics/music: Jose Maria ZELEDON Brenes/Manuel Maria GUTIERREZ
note: adopted 1949; the anthem's music was originally written for an 1853 welcome ceremony for diplomatic missions from the US and UK; the lyrics were added in 1903
"
International law organization participationaccepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; non-party state to the ICCt
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
National symbol(s)turquoise-browed motmot (bird); national colors: blue, white
yiguirro (clay-colored robin); national colors: blue, white, red
Citizenshipcitizenship by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: yes
dual citizenship recognized: no, except in cases where bilateral agreements exist
residency requirement for naturalization: 4 years
citizenship by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: yes
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years

Economy

NicaraguaCosta Rica
Economy - overviewNicaragua, the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere, has widespread underemployment and poverty. GDP growth of 4.7% in 2016 was insufficient to make a significant difference. Textiles and agriculture combined account for nearly 50% of Nicaragua's exports. Beef, coffee, and gold are Nicaragua’s top three export commodities.

The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) has been in effect since April 2006 and has expanded export opportunities for many Nicaraguan agricultural and manufactured goods.

In 2013, the government granted a 50-year concession with the option for an additional 50 years to a newly formed Chinese-run company to finance and build an inter-oceanic canal and related projects, at an estimated cost of $50 billion. The canal construction has not started.
Since 2010 Costa Rica has enjoyed strong and stable economic growth - 4.3% in 2016. Exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are the backbone of its commodity exports. Various industrial and processed agricultural products have broadened exports in recent years, as have high value-added goods, including medical devices. And Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity makes it a key destination for ecotourism.

Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the free-trade zones; Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. The US-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which entered into force on 1 January, helped increase foreign direct investment in key sectors of the economy, including insurance and telecommunication. However, poor infrastructure, high energy costs, a complex bureaucracy, weak investor protection, and uncertainty of contract enforcement impede greater investment.

Costa Rica’s economy also faces challenges due to a rising fiscal deficit, rising public debt, and relatively low levels of domestic revenue. Poverty has remained around 20-25% for nearly 20 years, and the government’s strong social safety net has eroded due to increased constraints on its expenditures. Costa Rica’s credit rating was downgraded from stable to negative in 2015, upping pressure on lending rates - which could hurt small business, on the budget deficit - which could hurt infrastructure development, and on the rate of return on investment - which could soften foreign direct investment. Unlike the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is not highly dependent on remittances - which represented just 0.7% of GDP in 2015, but instead relies on FDI - which accounted for 4% of GDP.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$33.55 billion (2016 est.)
$32.04 billion (2015 est.)
$30.54 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$79.26 billion (2016 est.)
$76.02 billion (2015 est.)
$73.33 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - real growth rate4.7% (2016 est.)
4.9% (2015 est.)
4.6% (2014 est.)
4.3% (2016 est.)
3.7% (2015 est.)
3.5% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$5,300 (2016 est.)
$5,100 (2015 est.)
$4,900 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$16,100 (2016 est.)
$15,700 (2015 est.)
$15,300 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 14.2%
industry: 19.3%
services: 66.7% (2016 est.)
agriculture: 5.5%
industry: 18.6%
services: 75.9% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line29.6% (2015 est.)
21.7% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 1.8%
highest 10%: 47.1% (2014)
lowest 10%: 1.5%
highest 10%: 36.9% (2014 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)3.1% (2016 est.)
3.1% (2015 est.)
0.6% (2016 est.)
0.8% (2015 est.)
Labor force3.013 million (2016 est.)
2.295 million
note: official estimate; excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 31%
industry: 18%
services: 50% (2011 est.)
agriculture: 14%
industry: 22%
services: 64% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate6% (2016 est.)
6.1% (2015 est.)
note: underemployment was 46.5% in 2008
9.3% (2016 est.)
9.4% (2015 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index47.1 (2014)
45.8 (2009)
48.5 (2014)
49.2 (2013)
Budgetrevenues: $3.661 billion
expenditures: $3.442 billion (2016 est.)
revenues: $8.115 billion
expenditures: $11.31 billion (2016 est.)
Industriesfood processing, chemicals, machinery and metal products, knit and woven apparel, petroleum refining and distribution, beverages, footwear, wood, electric wire harness manufacturing, mining
medical equipment, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
Industrial production growth rate3.5% (2016 est.)
4% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productscoffee, bananas, sugarcane, rice, corn, tobacco, cotton, sesame, soya, beans, beef, veal, pork, poultry, dairy products, shrimp, lobsters, peanuts
bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy; timber
Exports$3.108 billion (2016 est.)
$3.341 billion (2015 est.)
$9.824 billion (2016 est.)
$9.422 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiescoffee, beef, gold, sugar, peanuts, shrimp and lobster, tobacco, cigars, automobile wiring harnesses, textiles, apparel
bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; beef; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment
Exports - partnersUS 54.1%, Mexico 11%, Venezuela 6.2%, El Salvador 5.5% (2015)
US 35.2%, China 6.5%, Mexico 4.8%, Netherlands 4.4% (2015)
Imports$6.039 billion (2016 est.)
$6.083 billion (2015 est.)
$14.76 billion (2016 est.)
$14.38 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesconsumer goods, machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum products
raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials
Imports - partnersUS 18.1%, China 14.4%, Mexico 10.4%, Costa Rica 8.2%, Guatemala 6.9%, Netherlands Antilles 6.1%, El Salvador 5.2% (2015)
US 46.8%, China 10.1%, Mexico 7.3% (2015)
Debt - external$11.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$10.64 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$24.91 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$23.18 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratescordobas (NIO) per US dollar -
28.68 (2016 est.)
27.257 (2015 est.)
27.257 (2014 est.)
26.01 (2013 est.)
23.55 (2012 est.)
Costa Rican colones (CRC) per US dollar -
543.4 (2016 est.)
534.57 (2015 est.)
534.57 (2014 est.)
538.32 (2013 est.)
502.9 (2012 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
calendar year
Public debt45% of GDP (2016 est.)
45.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
note: official data; data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by Government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as retirement, medical care, and unemployment, debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions; Nicaragua rebased its GDP figures in 2012, which reduced the figures for debt as a percentage of GDP
62.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
60.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$2.442 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.492 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$7.96 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.834 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Current Account Balance-$1.24 billion (2016 est.)
-$1.045 billion (2015 est.)
-$2.055 billion (2016 est.)
-$2.493 billion (2015 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$13.41 billion (2016 est.)
$57.69 billion (2016 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$1.568 billion (31 December 2016)
$1.209 billion (31 December 2015)
$995 million (31 December 2014)
$2.015 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$1.443 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$1.445 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Central bank discount rate3% (31 December 2010)
3.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
21.5% (31 December 2010)
Commercial bank prime lending rate15% (31 December 2016 est.)
12.05% (31 December 2015 est.)
14.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
14.24% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$5.732 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$5.677 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$35.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$30.53 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$1.228 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.093 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$5.946 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$5.273 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$5.528 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$5.311 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$21.55 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$18 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Taxes and other revenues27.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
14.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)1.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
-5.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 11.9%
male: 9.8%
female: 15.6% (2010 est.)
total: 25%
male: 21.3%
female: 31.4% (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 79.4%
government consumption: 7.2%
investment in fixed capital: 32.1%
investment in inventories: 1.6%
exports of goods and services: 36.2%
imports of goods and services: -54.9% (2015 est.)
household consumption: 62.3%
government consumption: 16.9%
investment in fixed capital: 22.2%
investment in inventories: 0.5%
exports of goods and services: 29.6%
imports of goods and services: -31.5% (2016 est.)
Gross national saving22.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
23.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
19.7% of GDP (2014 est.)
14.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
15.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
14.9% of GDP (2014 est.)

Energy

NicaraguaCosta Rica
Electricity - production3.218 billion kWh (2016 est.)
10 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - consumption3.177 billion kWh (2016 est.)
9.2 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - exports17.87 million kWh (2016 est.)
600 million kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - imports109 million kWh (2016 est.)
800 million kWh (2014 est.)
Oil - production0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - imports13,440 bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Oil - exports0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
1,300 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Oil - proved reserves0 bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
0 bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves0 cu m (1 January 2015 es)
0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)
Natural gas - production0 cu m (2016 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - consumption0 cu m (2016 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - exports0 cu m (2016 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - imports0 cu m (2016 est.)
0 cu m (2013 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity1.395 million kW (2016 est.)
2.9 million kW (2014 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels48.8% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
30.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants7.8% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
55.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels0% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources43.4% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
13.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production14,260 bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption30,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
53,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports396 bbl/day (2014 est.)
0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports16,500 bbl/day (2014 est.)
51,300 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy5.2 million Mt (2013 est.)
7.616 million Mt (2013 est.)
Electricity accesspopulation without electricity: 1,400,000
electrification - total population: 78%
electrification - urban areas: 100%
electrification - rural areas: 43% (2013)
population without electricity: 24,362
electrification - total population: 99.5%
electrification - urban areas: 99.9%
electrification - rural areas: 98.3% (2013)

Telecommunications

NicaraguaCosta Rica
Telephones - main lines in usetotal subscriptions: 354,017
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 6 (July 2015 est.)
total subscriptions: 859,514
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 18 (July 2015 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellulartotal: 7.264 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 123 (July 2015 est.)
total: 7.536 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 157 (July 2015 est.)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: system being upgraded by foreign investment; nearly all installed telecommunications capacity now uses digital technology, owing to investments since privatization of the formerly state-owned telecommunications company
domestic: since privatization, access to fixed-line and mobile-cellular services has improved; fixed-line teledensity roughly 6 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone subscribership has increased to about 125 per 100 persons
international: country code - 505; the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) fiber-optic submarine cable provides connectivity to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth stations - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region) and 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2015)
general assessment: good domestic telephone service in terms of breadth of coverage
domestic: point-to-point and point-to-multi-point microwave, fiber-optic, and coaxial cable link rural areas; Internet service is available
international: country code - 506; landing points for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1), MAYA-1, and the Pan American Crossing submarine cables that provide links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and the US; connected to Central American Microwave System; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2015)
Internet country code.ni
.cr
Internet userstotal: 1.164 million
percent of population: 19.7% (July 2015 est.)
total: 2.877 million
percent of population: 59.8% (July 2015 est.)
Broadcast mediamultiple terrestrial TV stations, supplemented by cable TV in most urban areas; nearly all are government-owned or affiliated; more than 300 radio stations, both government-affiliated and privately owned (2016)
multiple privately owned TV stations and 1 publicly owned TV station; cable network services are widely available; more than 100 privately owned radio stations and a public radio network (2017)

Transportation

NicaraguaCosta Rica
Roadwaystotal: 23,897 km
paved: 3,346 km
unpaved: 20,551 km (2014)
total: 39,018 km
paved: 10,133 km
unpaved: 28,885 km (2010)
Waterways2,220 km (navigable waterways as well as the use of the large Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua; rivers serve only the sparsely populated eastern part of the country) (2011)
730 km (seasonally navigable by small craft) (2011)
Pipelinesoil 54 km (2013)
refined products 662 km (2013)
Ports and terminalsmajor seaport(s): Bluefields, Corinto
major seaport(s): Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean) - Puerto Limon; Pacific Ocean - Caldera
Airports147 (2013)
161 (2013)
Airports - with paved runwaystotal: 12
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 4 (2013)
total: 47
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 27
under 914 m: 16 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runwaystotal: 135
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 15
under 914 m: 119 (2013)
total: 114
914 to 1,523 m: 18
under 914 m: 96 (2013)

Military

NicaraguaCosta Rica
Military branchesNational Army of Nicaragua (Ejercito Nacional de Nicaragua, ENN; includes Navy, Air Force) (2013)
no regular military forces; Ministry of Public Security, Government, and Police (2011)

Transnational Issues

NicaraguaCosta Rica
Disputes - internationalthe 1992 ICJ ruling for El Salvador and Honduras advised a tripartite resolution to establish a maritime boundary in the Gulf of Fonseca, which considers Honduran access to the Pacific; Nicaragua and Costa Rica regularly file border dispute cases over the delimitations of the San Juan River and the northern tip of Calero Island to the ICJ; there is an ongoing case in the ICJ to determine Pacific and Atlantic ocean maritime borders as well as land borders; in 2009, the ICJ ruled that Costa Rican vessels carrying out police activities could not use the river, but official Costa Rican vessels providing essential services to riverside inhabitants and Costa Rican tourists could travel freely on the river; in 2011, the ICJ provisionally ruled that both countries must remove personnel from the disputed area; in 2013, the ICJ rejected Nicaragua's 2012 suit to halt Costa Rica's construction of a highway paralleling the river on the grounds of irreparable environmental damage; in 2013, the ICJ, regarding the disputed territory, ordered that Nicaragua should refrain from dredging or canal construction and refill and repair damage caused by trenches connecting the river to the Caribbean and upheld its 2010 ruling that Nicaragua must remove all personnel; in early 2014, Costa Rica brought Nicaragua to the ICJ over offshore oil concessions in the disputed region; Nicaragua filed a case against Colombia in 2013 over the delimitation of the Continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical miles from the Nicaraguan coast, as well as over the alleged violation by Colombia of Nicaraguan maritime space in the Caribbean Sea
Costa Rica and Nicaragua regularly file border dispute cases over the delimitations of the San Juan River and the northern tip of Calero Island to the International Court of Justice (ICJ); in 2009, the ICJ ruled that Costa Rican vessels carrying out police activities could not use the river, but official Costa Rican vessels providing essential services to riverside inhabitants and Costa Rican tourists could travel freely on the river; in 2011, the ICJ provisionally ruled that both countries must remove personnel from the disputed area; in 2013, the ICJ rejected Nicaragua's 2012 suit to halt Costa Rica's construction of a highway paralleling the river on the grounds of irreparable environmental damage; in 2013, the ICJ, regarding the disputed territory, ordered that Nicaragua should refrain from dredging or canal construction and refill and repair damage caused by trenches connecting the river to the Caribbean and upheld its 2010 ruling that Nicaragua must remove all personnel; in early 2014, Costa Rica brought Nicaragua to the ICJ over offshore oil concessions in the disputed region
Illicit drugstransshipment point for cocaine destined for the US and transshipment point for arms-for-drugs dealing
transshipment country for cocaine and heroin from South America; illicit production of cannabis in remote areas; domestic cocaine consumption, particularly crack cocaine, is rising; significant consumption of amphetamines; seizures of smuggled cash in Costa Rica and at the main border crossing to enter Costa Rica from Nicaragua have risen in recent years (2008)

Source: CIA Factbook