Cruising to Costa Rica


Costa Rica is a Central American success story: since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development. Although it still maintains a large agricultural sector, Costa Rica has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism industries. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.


Location: Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama
Geographic coordinates: 10 00 N, 84 00 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 51,100 sq km
Land: 50,660 sq km
Water: 440 sq km; note: includes Isla del Coco


1,290 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200 nm


Tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands


Coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major volcanoes

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m


Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Poverty has been substantially reduced over the past 15 years, and a strong social safety net has been put into place. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and high education levels, and tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange. Low prices for coffee and bananas have hurt the agricultural sector.

The government continues to grapple with its large internal and external deficits and sizable internal debt. The reduction of inflation remains a difficult problem because of rises in the price of imports, labor market rigidities, and fiscal deficits. The country also needs to reform its tax system and its pattern of public expenditure. Costa Rica is the only signatory to the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) that has not ratified it. CAFTA implementation would result in economic reforms and an improved investment climate.


Airports: 156 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 31
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 125
Pipelines: refined products 242 km (2004)
Railways: total: 278 km
Roadways: total: 35,889 km


730 km (seasonally navigable by small craft) (2005)

Merchant marine

Total: 2 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,308 GRT/743 DWT
By type: passenger/cargo 2 (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Caldera, Puerto Limon


In September 2005, Costa Rica took its case before the ICJ to advocate the navigation, security, and commercial rights of Costa Rican vessels using the Río San Juan over which Nicaragua retains sovereignty

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Argentina - Belize - Brazil - Chile - Colombia - Costa Rica - Ecuador - El Salvador - French Guiana - Guatemala - Guyana - Honduras - Mexico - Nicaragua - Panama - Peru - St. Pierre and Miquelon - Suriname - Uruguay - Venezuela

Further Reading

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