A map of Costa Rica Costa Rica is one of the most stable and well-developed countries in Central America. It stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the tropical lowlands of the Caribbean coast. In between these coasts is a chain of mountains and volcanoes: the highest reach over 3350 m (11,000 ft). A valley in this upland region, the Meseta Central, is the most heavily populated part of the country. The hot, humid lowlands of Costa Rica are home to some of the world’s richest and least spoiled rainforests. High in the mountains are cooler temperatures and cloud forests, where tree canopies are frequently veiled in mist.
Costa Rica’s population is largely mestizo: nearly all its people are descended from a mix of native Americans and Spanish settlers who arrived in the 16th century. Compared to its neighbours, Costa Rica is a relatively wealthy country. Although there is some poverty, most Costa Ricans enjoy a good standard of living. The government has invested much money in education, meaning that almost everybody can read and write. Hundreds of thousands of refugees, most of them from Nicaragua, have come to live in Costa Rica in search of a higher standard of living.
Costa Rica permanently disbanded its army in 1949, becoming one of only a few nations without a military.
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