Known as the Switzerland of Central America, Costa Rica's relative political and economic isolation from the rest of the Isthmus has allowed a rich democratic tradition to evolve in stark contrast to the rest of the region, which has been plagued by civil strife. Though the economy is still largely dependent on agricultural commodities, efforts at diversification have made with some success, such as the expansion of the tourist industry that now takes full advantage of Costa Rica's natural wonders. With no army to maintain and no legacy of destructive civil wars, Costa Rica has been free to develop producing one of the highest life expectancy rates in the hemisphere.
||4,075,261 (July 2006 est.)
||50,660 sq km
||slightly smaller than West Virginia
||Spanish (official), English