Title: The Republic of Costa Rica

Population: 5,151,140

Population Change: 0.92

National Average Age: 33

Urban Percentage: 80

Christian Population: 3,912,000

Christian Percentage: 83

Introduction: Costa Rica is a rugged rainforested Central American country with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific. Though its capital San Jose is home to cultural institutions like the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum Costa Rica is known for its beaches volcanoes and biodiversity. Roughly a quarter of its area is made up of protected jungle teeming with wildlife including spider monkeys and quetzal birds.

Overview: 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.