Country Profile: Costa Rica

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Republic of Costa Rica (República de Costa Rica), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Costa Rica’s Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status.

Country Background

Costa Rica is located in Central America bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. It is bounded by Nicaragua and Panama. The capital of Costa Rica is San Jose. The official language is Spanish. The country’s population in 2016 was approximately 5 million. Costa Rica is a predominantly Christian country, with about 76% of the population Roman Catholic.

Constitution & Legal Structure

Costa Rica is referred to as a presidential republic, in which the sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, adopted in 1949 and amended in 1989 to create a constitutional branch within the Supreme Court. This fourth chamber (Sala IV) has specific jurisdiction over constitutional matters and those that involve constitutional rights. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no constitutional status in Costa Rica.

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in Costa Rica.

Dominant School of Islamic Law

Costa Rica has no official school of Islamic law. 

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

 Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English and Arabic translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].