Costa Rica (i/ˌkoʊstə ˈriːkə/, meaning "rich coast" in Spanish), officially the Republic of Costa Rica (Spanish: Costa Rica or 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, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
Costa Rica 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 the Human Development Index (HDI), ranked 69th in the world in 2011.
Costa Rica was cited by the United Nations United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2010 as one of the countries that have attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels, and in 2011 was highlighted by UNDP for being a good performer on environmental sustainability and having a better record on human development and inequality than the median of their region. It was also the only country to meet all five criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. The country is ranked fifth in the world, and first among the Americas, in terms of the 2012 Environmental Performance Index.
In 2007, the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) ranked Costa Rica first in its 2009 Happy Planet Index, and once again in 2012. The NEF also ranked Costa Rica in 2009 as the "greenest" country in the world. In 2012 Costa Rica is set to be the first country in the American continent to ban recreational hunting after the country’s legislature approved the popular measure by a wide margin.
According to studies conducted by Polilat.com and Konrad Adenauer Foundation for the year 2012, Costa Rica is the most democratic nation in Latin America, scoring a perfect 10 out of 10.