Country of the World Costa Rica

About the country Costa Rica, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Costa Rica, "the Switzerland of Central America," lies between Panama and Nicaragua and has both a Pacific and a Caribbean coast. Between the coastal lowlands is a volcanic mountain range with peaks over 12,000 ft. high. Costa Rica's Pacific coastline is deeply indented with bays and river outlets. In the mountain plateaus, the weather is springlike all year; the lowlands, however, are steamy and tropical.

Size: 19,575 sq. mi. (50,700 sq. km.).

Population: 2 million.

Who Rules: One of the only republics in Latin America, Costa Rica has had a stable democratic government since 1948. The present constitution was adopted a year later as the result of a civil war. Every four years a president and representatives to a unicameral legislature are elected from the major Costa Rican political parties.

Who REALLY Rules: Despite its reputation as one of the freest, most democratic, and most honest of Latin American countries, it appears that Costa Rica's government has been tainted by foreign capital and investment interests. In the 1970s, racketeers and venture capitalists speculating in Costa Rican land and resort facilities are becoming increasingly prominent. Robert Vesco, U.S. financier who is wanted in the U.S. and Europe on swindling and bribery charges, is the most flamboyant of the group. Under investigation by the SEC in 1972, he contributed $200,000 to Nixon's reelection campaign fund, then fled to Costa Rica. His $3.5 million "loan" to former Pres. Jose Figueres Ferrer resulted in a tough antiextradition law that has enabled him to fend off every attempt to return him to the U.S. for prosecution. However, in February, 1978, Rodrigo Carazo, head of the unity party which had opposed former President Figueres, was elected president. Intent upon ending "waste and corruption," Carazo indicted Vesco, who subsequently fled the country.

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