Republic of Costa Rica
República de Costa Rica
CAPITAL : San José
FLAG : The national flag consists of five horizontal stripes of blue, white, red, white, and blue, the center stripe being wider than the others.
ANTHEM : Himno Nacional, beginning "Noble patria, tu hermosa bandera" ("Noble native land, your beautiful flag").
MONETARY UNIT : The colón ( C ) is a paper currency of 100 céntimos. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 céntimos and of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 colones, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 colones. C 1 = $0.00256 (or $1 = C 390.04) as of May 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is the legal standard, but local measures also are used.
HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day and Solemnity of Mary, 1 January; Day of St. Joseph (Costa Rica's patron saint), 19 March; Anniversary of the Battle of Rivas, 11 April; Labor Day, 1 May; Day of St. Peter and St. Paul, 29 June; Anniversary of the Annexation of Guanacaste, 25 July; Feast of Our Lady of the Angels, 2 August; Assumption (Mother's Day), 15 August; Independence Day, 15 September; Columbus Day, 12 October; Immaculate Conception, 8 December; Abolition of Armed Forces Day, 1 December; Christmas, 25 December. Movable religious holidays include Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Corpus Christi.
TIME : 6 AM = noon GMT.
The population is fairly homogeneous, primarily of European (mainly Spanish) descent. Whites and mestizos (mixed white and Amerindian) account for 94% of the total population. The remainder are blacks (3%), Chinese (1%), and Amerindians (1%). The blacks for the most part are of Jamaican origin or descent, and some mulattoes live mainly in the Limón port area. Most of the Amerindians reside on isolated reservations.
Spanish is the national language, but English is also spoken around Puerto Limon and among the middle class. Descendants of the Jamaican blacks speak an English dialect.
The 1949 constitution prohibits armed forces. In 2002, the paramilitary consisted of 8,400 members including the 4,400 member Civil Guard. The border security police had 2,000 personnel and the rural guard also had 2,000 members. The security budget was $69 million, or 1.6% GDP.
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