Area: 51,100 Sq. km
Population: 4,016,173 (July 2005 est.)
Costa Rica is a Central American success story: since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development.
Although still a largely agricultural country, it has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism sectors. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.
Costa Rica is an oasis of calm among its turbulent neighbours and an ecotourism heaven, making it one of the best places to experience the tropics with minimal impact.
It's mostly coastline, which means great surfing, beaches galore and a climate built for laziness.
Costa Rica's enlightened approach to conservation has ensured that lush jungles are home to playful monkeys, languid sloths, crocodiles, countless lizards, poison-dart frogs and a mind-boggling assortment of exotic birds, insects and butterflies.
Meanwhile, endangered sea turtles nest on both coasts and cloud forests protect elusive birds and jungle cats.
Costa Rica is noted for its natural beauty and friendly people. Praised for it's abundant fauna and flora, the country has no military, no nuclear power plants, the highest literacy rate in North America, and no winter.