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 transferred power to Ulate on 8 November 1949. 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 14 presidential elections, the latest in 2018. With uninterrupted democracy dating back to at least 1948, the country is the region’s most stable.
Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus. It borders the Caribbean Sea (to the east) and the Pacific Ocean (to the west), with a total of 1,290 kilometres (800 mi) of coastline, 212 km (132 mi) on the Caribbean coast and 1,016 km (631 mi) on the Pacific. Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua to the north (309 km or 192 mi of border) and Panama to the south-southeast (330 km or 210 mi of border). In total, Costa Rica comprises 51,100 square kilometres (19,700 sq mi) plus 589 square kilometres (227 sq mi) of territorial waters.
The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó, at 3,819 metres (12,530 ft); it is the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano (3,431 m or 11,257 ft) and the largest lake is Lake Arenal. There are 14 known volcanoes in Costa Rica, and six of them have been active in the last 75 years. The country has also experienced at least ten earthquakes of magnitude 5.7 or higher (3 of magnitude 7.0 or higher) in the last century.
Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island (24 square kilometres or 9.3 square miles) stands out because of its distance from the continental landmass, 480 kilometres (300 mi) from Puntarenas, but Isla Calero is the largest island of the country (151.6 square kilometres or 58.5 square miles). Over 25% of Costa Rica’s national territory is protected by SINAC (the National System of Conservation Areas), which oversees all of the country’s protected areas. Costa Rica also possesses the greatest density of species in the world.
Many foreign companies (manufacturing and services) operate in Costa Rica’s Free Trade Zones (FTZ) where they benefit from investment and tax incentives. Well over half of that type of investment has come from the U.S. According to the government, the zones supported over 82 thousand direct jobs and 43 thousand indirect jobs in 2015. Companies with facilities in the America Free Zone in Heredia, for example, include Intel, Dell, HP, Bayer, Bosch, DHL, IBM and Okay Industries.
Of the GDP, 5.5% is generated by agriculture, 18.6% by industry and 75.9% by services. Agriculture employs 12.9% of the labor force, industry 18.57%, services 69.02%. For the region, its unemployment level is moderately high (8.2% in 2016, according to the IMF). Although 20.5% of the population lives below the poverty line (2017), Costa Rica has one of the highest standards of living in Central America.