Costa Rica is a country in Central America bordered by Nicaragua and Panama, and the Pacific on one side, and the Caribbean on the other.
Before the Spanish arrived, the country had a meager population. Although the Spaniards arrived here earlier, it took them some time to establish a permanent stronghold in the country because of several critical factors including the abundance of pesky mosquitoes, fierce resistance by the natives, and piracy. In 1565, they were finally able to establish a settlement in the central parts of the country where valleys and plains helped the settlers grow valuable crops.
Upon its independence from Spain in 1821, the country suffered from chronic poverty and isolation. Today, however, the country is one of the most progressive countries in this part of the world. In 1948, Costa Rica abolished its armed forces, making the country one of a handful of countries without a standing army.
The country is ranked first when it comes to environmental sustainability. In fact, it is the only country in the world that meets all five criteria set by the United Nations to determine environmental competitiveness of the nations on the planet. It ranks first in the continent in the Environmental Performance Index, and the fifth in the world.
Costa Rica has the highest Human Development Index in Central America. According to the IMF, it is ranked higher than any other nation on the same development scale. While poverty is not exactly low at 23%, the Costa Ricans are identified by the Happy Planet Index as the happiest peoples in the world in 2009, and again in 2012.
Population. Ranked 121st in 2013.
GDP per capita. Ranked 63th in 2012.
51,060 sq km
Sq. km. Ranked 122nd in 2008.