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Costa Rica (officially the Republic of Costa Rica) borders Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Caribbean Sea on the east. It includes several islands with Cocos Island being significant as it lies 480 kms from the mainland in the Pacific. Costa Rica literally means Rich Coast.

The country had been sparsely inhabited by indigenous tribes for thousands of years before falling to Spanish rule after its discovery by Europeans in 1502. However, it remained isolated and was generally left to develop on its own.

Achieving independence from Spain, and joining the short-lived First Mexican Empire in 1821, it soon became a member of the Federal Republic of Central America led by Guatemala, from which it declared sovereignty in 1838.

Although a stable country, two civil wars (in 1917 and 1948) led it to permanently abolish its army in 1949.

Costa Rica is a stable, successful country, once heavily dependent on agriculture (primarily coffee and bananas), but now diversified to include finance, pharmaceuticals, and eco-tourism.

Costa Rica is an active volcanic region at the junction of the Caribbean plate and the Cocos plate beneath the Pacific Ocean. The latter is moving northeast and is being subducted below the Caribbean plate.

As such the geology is not suitable for the generation and accumulation of commercial volumes of oil and gas. Thus Costa Rica has no identified indigenous oil or gas resources, either onshore or offshore, and Globalshift believes it is unlikely to achieve any production in the future.

In 2007, the Costa Rican government announced plans for the country to become the first carbon-neutral country in the world by 2021. According to the New Economics Foundation, Costa Rica ranks first in the Happy Planet Index and is also the greenest country in the world.


Map and National Flag


Cocoa plant

Central America

Costa Rica

E and P

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Land area (sq kms)

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Gas prod (bcm/yr)

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Gas cons (bcm/yr)


San Jose

4.6 mm






Brief history of the country

Government takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic with a multi-party system.

Executive power is exercised by the president and his cabinet. Legislative power is vested in the 57-member Legislative Assembly elected for 4-year terms.

There is no government department specifically responsible for oil and gas resources. Indeed the government discourages fossil fuel use under its environmental policy.

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