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Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica (Spanish: Costa Rica or República de Costa Rica, pronounced [reˈpuβlika ðe ˈkosta ˈrika]) is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the east and south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and south and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

Costa Rica (an independent country since 1821) is a democratic republic with a strong constitution. The country has had at least 59 years of uninterrupted democracy, making it one of the most stable countries in the region, and the only Latin American country included in the list of the world’s 22 older democracies since at least 1950.

Costa Rica is a republic with three powers: executive responsibilities are vested in a president, legislative power is vested on the Legislative Assembly, and Judicial power is vested on the Supreme Court. There are two vice presidents as well as a cabinet designated by the president. The president, vice presidents, and 57 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.

The Supreme Court is divided into four chambers, one dealing with Constitutional Law, one dealing with Criminal Law and two dealing with Civil Law, Merchant Law and the like.

In April 2003, the constitutional amendment ban on presidential re-election was reversed, allowing Óscar Arias (Nobel Peace Prize laureate, 1987) to run for president for a second term.

He will be succeeded by Laura Chinchilla who won the February 7, 2010 election. She is also from the National Liberation Party and is the first woman to be elected president of the country.

In 2009, the state monopoly on insurance and telecommunications were opened to private-sector competition. Certain other state agencies enjoy considerable operational independence and autonomy; they include the electrical power, the nationalized commercial banks (which are open to competition from private banks), and the social security agency, all of which have played an important role in the development of the Costa Rican high-indexed quality of life.

Costa Rica, which translates literally as "Rich Coast", constitutionally abolished its army permanently in 1949. It is the only Latin American country included in the list of the world’s 22 older democracies. Costa Rica has consistently been among the top Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index. The country is ranked 3rd in the world, and 1st among the Americas, in terms of the 2010 Environmental Performance Index.

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

(Source-From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)