Costa Rica ( ( listen); Spanish: [ˈkosta ˈrika]; "Rich Coast"), officially the Republic of Costa Rica (Spanish: República de Costa Rica), is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. It has a population of around 4.9 million, in a land area of 51,060 square kilometers (19,714 square miles); over 300,000 live in the capital and largest city, San José, which had a population of an estimated 333,980 in 2015. Costa Rica has been known for its stable democracy, in a region that has had some instability, and for its highly educated workforce, most of whom speak English. The country spends roughly 6.9% of its budget (2016) on education, compared to a global average of 4.4%. Its economy, once heavily dependent on agriculture, has diversified to include sectors such as finance, corporate services for foreign companies, pharmaceuticals, and ecotourism. Many foreign companies (manufacturing and services) operate in Costa Rica's free trade zones (FTZ) where they benefit from investment and tax incentives. In spite of impressive growth in the Gross domestic product (GDP), low inflation, moderate interest rates and an acceptable unemployment level, Costa Rica in 2017 was facing a liquidity crisis due to a growing debt and budget deficit. By August 2017, the Treasury was having difficulty paying its obligations. Other challenges facing the country in its attempts to improve the economy by increasing foreign investment include a poor infrastructure and a need to improve public sector efficiency. Costa Rica was sparsely inhabited by indigenous peoples before coming under Spanish rule in the 16th century.
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