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Costa Rica Government
 
 
 

Costa Rica is a democratic republic with a strong constitution. Although there are claims that the country has had more than 115 years of uninterrupted democracy, their presidential election history shows otherwise. Nonetheless, the country has had at least fifty-nine years of uninterrupted democracy, which is by far the longest in Latin America. It is one of the most stable countries in Latin America. Costa Rica has avoided the violence that has plagued Central America; it is seen as an example of political stability in the region.

Executive responsibilities are vested in a president, who is the country's center of power. There also are two vice presidents as well as a cabinet designated by the president. The president, vice presidents, and fifty-seven Legislative Assembly delegates are elected for four-year terms. A constitutional amendment approved in 1969 limited presidents and delegates to one term, although delegates were allowed to run again for an Assembly seat after sitting out a term.

In April 2003, the constitutional ban on presidential re-election was reversed, allowing Óscar Arias (Nobel Peace Prize laureate, 1987) to run for President for a second term. In 2006, Óscar Arias was re-elected in tight and highly contested elections, running on a platform of promoting free trade. He took office on May 8, 2006. On June 16, 2006, he met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.

Autonomous state agencies enjoy considerable operational independence; they include the telecommunications and electrical power monopoly, the nationalised commercial banks, the state insurance monopoly, and the social security agency.

Costa Rica is comprised of seven provinces, which in turn are divided into 81 districts ("cantón" in Spanish, plural "cantones"), each directed by a mayor. Mayors are chosen democratically every four years by each canton's people. There are no provincial legislatures.

Overview

Country name
conventional long form: Republic of Costa Rica
conventional short form: Costa Rica
local long form: Republica de Costa Rica
local short form: Costa Rica

Government type
democratic republic

Capital
name: San Jose
geographic coordinates: 9 56 N, 84 05 W
time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions
7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose

Independence
15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday
Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Constitution
7 November 1949

Legal system
based on Spanish civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage
18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch
chief of state: President Oscar ARIAS Sanchez (since 8 May 2006); First Vice President Laura CHINCHILLA (since 8 May 2006); Second Vice President Kevin CASAS Zamora (since 8 May 2006); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Oscar ARIAS Sanchez (since 8 May 2006); First Vice President Laura CHINCHILLA (since 8 May 2006); Second Vice President Kevin CASAS Zamora (since 8 May 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by the president
elections: president and vice presidents elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a single four-year term; election last held 5 February 2006 (next to be held in February 2010)
election results: Oscar ARIAS Sanchez elected president; percent of vote - Oscar ARIAS Sanchez (PLN) 40.9%; Otton SOLIS (PAC) 39.8%, Otto GUEVARA Guth (PML) 8%, Ricardo TOLEDO (PUSC) 3%

Legislative branch
unicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa (57 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 5 February 2006 (next to be held in February 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PLN 25, PAC 17, PML 6, PUSC 5, other 4

Judicial branch
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (22 justices are elected for eight-year terms by the Legislative Assembly)

Political parties and leaders
Authentic Member from Heredia [Jose SALAS]; Citizen Action Party or PAC [Otton SOLIS]; Costa Rican Renovation Party or PRC [Gerardo Justo OROZCO Alvarez]; Democratic Force Party or PFD [Vladimir DE LA CRUZ]; General Union Party or PUGEN [Carlos Alberto FERNANDEZ Vega]; Homeland First or PP [Juan Jose VARGAS Fallas]; Independent Worker Party or PIO [Jose Alberto CUBERO Carmona]; Libertarian Movement Party or PML [Otto GUEVARA Guth]; National Christian Alliance Party or ANC [Juan Carlos CHAVEZ Mora]; National Integration Party or PIN [Walter MUNOZ Cespedes]; National Liberation Party or PLN [Francisco Antonio PACHECO]; National Patriotic Party or PPN [Daniel Enrique REYNOLDS Vargas]; National Restoration Party or PRN [Carlos AVENDANO]; Nationalist Democratic Alliance or ADN [Jose Miguel VILLALOBOS Umana]; Patriotic Union or UP [Humberto ARCE Salas]; Social Christian Unity Party or PUSC [Luis FILMAN]; Union for Change Party or UPC [Antonio ALVAREZ Desanti]; United Leftist Coalition or IU [Humberto VARGAS Carbonel]

Political pressure groups and leaders
Authentic Confederation of Democratic Workers or CATD (Communist Party affiliate); Chamber of Coffee Growers; Confederated Union of Workers or CUT (Communist Party affiliate); Costa Rican Confederation of Democratic Workers or CCTD (Liberation Party affiliate); Costa Rican Exporter's Chamber or CADEXCO; Costa Rican Solidarity Movement; Costa Rican Union of Private Sector Enterprises or UCCAEP [Rafael CARRILLO]; Federation of Public Service Workers or FTSP; National Association for Economic Development or ANFE; National Association of Educators or ANDE; National Association of Public and Private Employees or ANEP [Albino VARGAS]; Rerum Novarum or CTRN (PLN affiliate) [Gilbert BROWN]

International organisation participation
BCIE, CACM, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission: Ambassador Tomas DUENAS
chancery: 2114 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 234-2945
FAX: [1] (202) 265-4795
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Chicago, Hammond (temporary location in Louisiana), Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Tampa (temporarily closed), Washington, DC
consulate(s): San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission: Ambassador Mark LANGDALE
embassy: Calle 120 Avenida O, Pavas, San Jose
mailing address: APO AA 34020
telephone: [506] 519-2000
FAX: [506] 519-2305

Flag description
five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white elliptical disk on the hoist side of the red band; above the coat of arms a light blue ribbon contains the words, AMERICA CENTRAL, and just below it near the top of the coat of arms is a white ribbon with the words, REPUBLICA COSTA RICA

 

 
 

 



 


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