Costa Rica: Background and U.S. Relations Page: 1 of 6
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Order Code RS21943
Updated February 10, 2005
CR8 Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Costa Rica: Background and U.S. Relations
Analyst in Latin American Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division
Costa Rica is considered the most politically stable and economically developed
nation in Central America with a tradition of political moderation and civilian
government. The current president, Abel Pacheco of the Social Christian Unity Party
(PUSC), was inaugurated in May 2002 to a four-year term. Costa Rican leaders across
the political spectrum support liberalized trade, and Pacheco has been a leading advocate
of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Costa Rica has been
an attractive environment for foreign investment. Relations with the United States have
traditionally been good, although some friction arose during CAFTA negotiations. The
U.S. Congress must still ratify the free trade agreement, with consideration expected in
2005 For additional information, see CRS Report RL32322, Central America and the
Dominican Republic in the Context of the Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) with the
United States, by K. Larry Storrs, and CRS Report RL31870, The United States-Central
American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA): Challenges for Sub-Regional Integration,
by J.F. Hornbeck. This report will be updated as events warrant.
Costa Rica is a politically stable and economically developed country, relative to its
neighbors in Central America. Since its independence in 1848, Costa Rica has developed
a tradition of political moderation and civilian government despite having had some
interludes of military rule. A brief civil war that ended in 1948 led to the abolition of the
Costa Rican military by President Jose Figueres, and there have been continuous civilian
governments since then. The Constitution prohibits the creation of a standing army,
although there exists a police force, Border Guard, Rural Guard, and Civil Guard.
Costa Rica scores well according to commonly used indicators of socio-economic
development. The United Nations' Human Development Report for 2004 ranks Costa
Rica 45th out of 175 countries based on life expectancy, education, and income levels.
This puts the country far ahead of its Central American neighbors. Life expectancy at
birth is 77.9 years. Costa Rica's population, 4 million in 2003, is the best educated in
Central America, with a literacy rate of 95%.
Congressional Research Service V The Library of Congress
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Costa Rica: Background and U.S. Relations, report, February 10, 2005; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc818007/m1/1/: accessed May 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.