Costa Rica is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
Costa Rica, which means "Rich Coast", constitutionally abolished its army permanently in 1949. It is the only Latin American country included in the list of the world's 22 older democracies. Costa Rica has consistently been among the top Latin American countries in the Human Development Index (HDI), ranked 69th in the world in 2011. Also was cited by the UNDP in 2010 as one of the countries that have attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels, and in 2011 was highlighted by UNDP for being a good performer on environmental sustainability, and better record on human development and inequality than the median of their region. It was also the only country to meet all five criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. The country is ranked fifth in the world, and first among the Americas, in terms of the 2012 Environmental Performance Index.
In 2007, the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021. According to the New Economics Foundation, Costa Rica ranks first in the Happy Planet Index and is the "greenest" country in the world.
Costa Rica has generally enjoyed greater peace and more consistent political stability compared with many of its fellow Latin American nations. Since the late 19th century, however, Costa Rica has experienced two significant periods of violence. In 1917–19, General Federico Tinoco Granados ruled as a military dictator until he was overthrown and forced into exile. The unpopularity of Tinoco's regime led, after he was overthrown, to a considerable decline in the size, wealth, and political influence of the Costa Rican military. In 1948, José Figueres Ferrer led an armed uprising in the wake of a disputed presidential election between the previous president Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia (he served as president between 1940 and 1944) and Otilio Ulate Blanco. With more than 2,000 dead, the resulting 44-day Costa Rican Civil War was the bloodiest event in Costa Rica during the 20th century.
The victorious rebels formed a government junta that abolished the military altogether, and oversaw the drafting of a new constitution by a democratically elected assembly. Having enacted these reforms, the junta relinquished its power on November 8, 1949, to the new democratic government. After the coup d'état, Figueres became a national hero, winning the country's first democratic election under the new constitution in 1953. Since then, Costa Rica has held 13 presidential elections, the latest in 2010. All of them have been widely regarded by the international community as peaceful and transparent.
Because Costa Rica is located between 8 and 12 degrees north of the Equator, the climate is tropical year round. However, the country has many microclimates depending on elevation, rainfall, topography, and by the geography of each particular region.
Costa Rica's seasons are defined by how much rain falls during a particular period and not to the four seasons in the Northern Hemisphere.
The year can be split into two periods:
- Dry Season - known to the residents as summer
The "summer" or dry season goes from December to April.
- Rainy Season - known locally as winter
The "winter" or rainy season goes from May to November, which almost coincides with the Atlantic hurricane season, and during this time, it rains constantly in some regions.
The location receiving the most rain is the Caribbean slopes of the Central Cordillera Mountains, with an annual rainfall of over 5,000 mm (196.9 in). Humidity is also higher on the Caribbean side than on the Pacific side. The mean annual temperature on the coastal lowlands is around 27 °C (81 °F), 20 °C (68 °F) in the main populated areas of the Central Cordillera, and below 10 °C (50 °F) on the summits of the highest mountains.