Costa Rica Demographics

What is the population of Costa Rica?

Population 5,265,575
Population: Male/Female male: 2,635,481

female: 2,630,094
Population Growth Rate 0.74%
Population Distribution roughly half of the nation's population resides in urban areas; the capital of San Jose is the largest city and home to approximately one-fifth of the population
Urban Population urban population: 82.6% of total population

rate of urbanization: 1.5% annual rate of change
Population in Major Urban Areas 1.462 million SAN JOSE (capital)
Nationality Noun noun: Costa Rican(s)

adjective: Costa Rican
Ethnic Groups White or Mestizo 83.6%, Mulatto 6.7%, Indigenous 2.4%, Black or African descent 1.1%, other 1.1%, none 2.9%, unspecified 2.2%
Language Note Spanish (official), English
Demographic profile Costa Rica's political stability, high standard of living, and well-developed social benefits system set it apart from its Central American neighbors. Through the government's sustained social spending - almost 20% of GDP annually - Costa Rica has made tremendous progress toward achieving its goal of providing universal access to education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and electricity. Since the 1970s, expansion of these services has led to a rapid decline in infant mortality, an increase in life expectancy at birth, and a sharp decrease in the birth rate. The average number of children born per women has fallen from about 7 in the 1960s to 3.5 in the early 1980s to below replacement level today. Costa Rica's poverty rate is lower than in most Latin American countries, but it has stalled at around 20% for almost two decades.

Costa Rica is a popular regional immigration destination because of its job opportunities and social programs. Almost 9% of the population is foreign-born, with Nicaraguans comprising nearly three-quarters of the foreign population. Many Nicaraguans who perform unskilled seasonal labor enter Costa Rica illegally or overstay their visas, which continues to be a source of tension. Less than 3% of Costa Rica's population lives abroad. The overwhelming majority of expatriates have settled in the United States after completing a university degree or in order to work in a highly skilled field.

Costa Rica Population Comparison

Costa Rica Health Information

What are the health conditions in Costa Rica?

Life Expectancy at Birth total population: 80.3 years

male: 77.7 years

female: 82.9 years
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 5.3
Infant Mortality Rate - total deaths/1,000 live births total: 6.7 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 7 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.3 deaths/1,000 live births
Health Expenditures - percent of GDP 7.9%
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population 3.3
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population 1.1
Major Infectious Diseases - degree of risk degree of risk: intermediate

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever
Drinking Water Source - percent of urban population improved improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population
Tobacco Use total: 8.8%

male: 12.9%

female: 4.6%
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 22
Contraceptive Prevalence Rate - female 12-49 70.9%
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.43
Gross reproduction rate 1
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 25.7%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of urban population improved improved: urban: 99% of population

rural: 97.1% of population

total: 98.7% of population

unimproved: urban: 1% of population

rural: 2.9% of population

total: 1.3% of population
Underweight - percent of children under five years 2.9%
Alcohol consumption per capita total: 3.07 liters of pure alcohol

beer: 2.17 liters of pure alcohol

wine: 0.15 liters of pure alcohol

spirits: 0.36 liters of pure alcohol

other alcohols: 0.39 liters of pure alcohol
Child Marriage women married by age 15: 2%

women married by age 18: 17.1%
Currently married women (ages 15-49) 48.4%

Costa Rica Life Expectancy

How long do people live in Costa Rica?

Life Expectancy at Birth total population: 80.3 years

male: 77.7 years

female: 82.9 years
Median Age total: 35.5 years

male: 34.9 years

female: 36.1 years
Gross reproduction rate 1
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 70.9%
Infant Mortality Rate total: 6.7 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 7 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.3 deaths/1,000 live births
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 22
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.43

Costa Rica median age, birth rate and death rates

Birth Rate - births/1,000 population 11
Median Age total: 35.5 years

male: 34.9 years

female: 36.1 years
Net Migration Rate - migrant(s)/1,000 population 1.9
Population Growth Rate 0.74%
Sex Ratio at Birth - male/female at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female
Age Structure 0-14 years: 18.8% (male 506,041/female 482,481)

15-64 years: 70.2% (male 1,862,872/female 1,832,024)

65 years and over: 11.1% (male 266,568/female 315,589)
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 70.9%
Gross reproduction rate 1
Infant Mortality Rate total: 6.7 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 7 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.3 deaths/1,000 live births
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 22
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.43

Costa Rica Medical Information

What are the health conditions in Costa Rica?

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Costa Rica actively promotes medical tourism. While the perceived advantages are affordable costs, quality health care, and a chance to recuperate and have a vacation at the same time, there are also risks.

Medical tourists should confirm that the facilities they intend to use are accredited and have an acceptable level of care. They should also purchase medical evacuation insurance before travelling, and should confirm that the cost and payment for their treatment is clearly understood by both parties. Persons with unpaid or disputed debts in Costa Rica may be legally prevented from leaving the country.

In the event of unforeseen medical complications or malpractice, medical tourists may not be covered by their personal insurance or may not be able to seek damages through malpractice lawsuits. Although many hospitals and clinics abroad have medical malpractice insurance, seeking compensation can prove to be difficult because insurance laws and legal options may not exist. Be aware that if you should need or wish to be transferred to a hospital in the United States and do not have medical evacuation insurance, an air ambulance flight can cost upwards of US$20,000 and will often take place only after you (or your loved ones) have paid for it.

Medical care in San Jose is generally adequate, but is limited in areas outside of San Jose. Most prescription and over-the-counter medications are available throughout Costa Rica. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. A list of local doctors and medical facilities can be obtained from the U.S. Embassy in San Jose’s website.. An ambulance may be summoned by calling 911. Most ambulances provide transportation but little or no medical assistance.

Malaria can occur in some rural locations, but is not commonly encountered. However, Costa Rica regularly experiences outbreaks of dengue fever in much of the country. Unlike some of the other mosquito-borne illnesses, there is no medical prophylactic or curative regimen for dengue. Travelers should take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes to reduce the chance of contracting the illness, such as avoiding standing water, wearing long sleeves and pants in both day and night, and applying insect repellent regularly. On July 2, 2013, the Ministry of Health declared a health alert due to the increase in cases of dengue.

Health Expenditures - percent of GDP


Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population


Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population


Costa Rica Education

What is school like in Costa Rica?

Education Expenditures - percent of GDP 6.7%
Literacy - female 98.1%
Literacy - male 98%
Literacy - total population 98%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
Total School Life Expectancy - (primary to tertiary) total: 17 years

male: 16 years

female: 17 years

Costa Rica Literacy

Can people in Costa Rica read?

Literacy - female 98.1%
Literacy - male 98%
Literacy - total population 98%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write

Costa Rica Crime

Is Costa Rica a safe place to visit?

Crime Information

Crime is a significant concern for Costa Ricans and visitors alike, and the Embassy reports a steady increase in crime. While the vast majority of foreign visitors do not become victims of crime, all are potential targets for criminals. Criminals usually operate in small groups, but may also operate alone. The most common crime perpetrated against tourists is theft, with thieves primarily looking for cash, jewelry, credit cards, electronic items and passports. Serious crimes, although less frequent, do occur. At least 7 U.S. citizens have been murdered in Costa Rica since January 2012. Daytime robberies in public places occur, and thieves are often armed and may resort to violence. Since January 2012, 21 U.S. citizens have reported to the Embassy that they were sexually assaulted, with at least six victims reporting that they were given date rape drugs. While the Costa Rican police claim to investigate all reported cases of rape, there have been no convictions in sexual assault cases of U.S. citizens since January 2012. .

While crimes occur throughout Costa Rica, they are more prevalent at certain times and in certain areas. The downtown area of San Jose for example, is a prime tourist destination during daylight hours. You are strongly encouraged, however, not to go there after dark. U.S. government officials, in fact, are not permitted to stay in hotels in that area due to safety concerns. U.S. Embassy San Jose has received reports of a particularly high number of violent assaults and robberies in the Limon Caribbean costal region (from Tortuguero through Limon to Puerto Viejo), often involving invasions of rental homes and ecolodges, as well as attacks taking place on isolated roads and trails. If you plan to visit an unfamiliar area, you should consult with a trustworthy local (a concierge, a tour guide, etc.) regarding precautions or concerns.

Thieves often work in groups to set up a victim. A prevalent scam involves the surreptitious puncturing of tires of rental cars, often near restaurants, tourist attractions, airports, or close to the car rental agencies themselves. When the travelers pull over, "good Samaritans" quickly appear to help change the tire - and just as quickly remove valuables from the car, sometimes brandishing weapons. Drivers with flat tires are advised to drive, if at all possible, to the nearest service station or other public area and change the tire themselves, watching valuables at all times. Another common scam involves one person dropping change in a crowded area, such as on a bus. When the victim tries to assist, a wallet or other item is taken.

Take proactive steps to avoid becoming a crime victim. Do not walk, hike or exercise alone, and bear in mind that crowded tourist attractions and resort areas popular with foreign tourists are common venues for criminal activity. Ignore any verbal harassment, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash, jewelry, or expensive photographic equipment. You should be particularly cautious of walking alone at night and should not leave bars or restaurants with strangers. Additionally, do not seek entertainment in groups of people you do not know. Do not consume food or drinks you have left unattended, or accept food or drinks from "friendly" people. Costa Rican immigration authorities conduct routine immigration checks at locations such as bars in downtown San Jose and beach communities. U.S. citizens questioned during these checks who have only a copy of the passport may be asked to provide the original passport with appropriate stamps. Be sure you are certain of the location of your passport and will have ready access to it.

Travelers renting vehicles should purchase an adequate level of locally valid theft insurance, park in secure lots whenever possible, and never leave valuables in their vehicles. Please note that there are unlicensed “parking attendants” that will occasionally assist you in parking; however, parking where they indicate does not always guarantee that it is a legal parking spot. Drivers should be cautious of where they park their cars. The U.S. Embassy receives several reports daily of valuables, identity documents, and other items stolen from locked vehicles, primarily rental cars. Thefts from parked cars can occur nearly anywhere, although cities, beaches and coastal towns, the airport, in front of restaurants and hotels, and national parks and other tourist attractions are common locations.

U.S. government personnel are not permitted to travel on city buses due to safety concerns, and must use caution when traveling on any other buses. If you choose to travel by bus, you are encouraged to keep your bag with valuables and identification on your lap. Personal items are frequently stolen from buses. Do not store your bags or other personal belongings in the storage bins, as theft from overhead bins is common. You should keep your belongings in your line of sight at all times and your valuables in your possession. If you choose to help another passenger stow his belongings, you should be especially cautious that your own belongings are not being removed while you are doing so.

Travelers should use only licensed taxis, which are typically red with medallions (yellow triangles containing numbers) painted on the side. Licensed taxis at the airport are painted orange. All licensed taxis should have working door handles, locks, seatbelts and meters (called "marias"); passengers are encouraged to use seatbelts.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.

Costa Rica Penalties for Crime

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in Costa Rica, you are subject to its laws and regulations even if you are a U.S. citizen. Some laws in Costa Rica differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Costa Rica’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. The law permits pre-trial detention of persons accused of serious crimes. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Costa Rica are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with minors or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. It is also a crime in Costa Rica. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. If you break local laws in Costa Rica, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not where you are going.

If you are arrested in Costa Rica, authorities are required to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request the police or prison officials to notify the U.S. embassy of your arrest.

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