Costa Rica profile

President-elect: Luis Guillermo Solis

Costa Rican president-elect Luis Guillermo Solis President-elect Luis Guillermo Solis is a former diplomat

Luis Guillermo Solis won the run-off presidential election in April 2014, ending the country's traditional two-party system.

By gaining 78% of the ballots cast, he became the first third-party candidate in more than half a century to win the top post.

His centrist Citizen Action Party (PAC) was founded 13 years previously to challenge an entrenched two-party system that saw the social democratic National Liberation Party (PLN) and the conservative Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) swap power between them.

Mr Solis gained a reputation as a researcher at FLACSO, a renowned Latin American social sciences institute, and as a programme director at the University of Costa Rica.

In the late 1980s he worked as chief of staff in Costa Ria's foreign ministry, where he worked on the design and promotion of the Central American peace plan for which former president Oscar Arias Sanchez won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize.

He later served as an ambassador.

Mr Solis was a member of the governing PLN party, and has held several cabinet posts in PLN administrations, before switching sides nine years previously.

He is due to take office on 8 May 2014.

Outgoing president: Laura Chinchilla

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla Ms Chinchilla comes from a political family

Laura Chinchilla won a landslide victory in February 2010 to become the country's first woman to be elected president. She took up office in May 2010.

Ms Chinchilla is a career politician who was born into a political family and served as public safety minister, congressional deputy and most recently as vice president and justice minister in the cabinet of her predecessor, Nobel peace prize laureate President Oscar Arias.

She promised to continue Arias's moderate free-market policies and expand Costa Rica's web of free trade agreements. She has also backed liberalization of Costa Rica's state-controlled electricity and telecommunications sectors.

Married with a teenage son, Ms Chinchilla is a social conservative, opposing gay marriage, abortion and any change to Roman Catholicism's position as the state religion. Supporters regaled her with rosaries during her campaign, including one she wears constantly for good luck.

The election of Ms Chinchilla follows an increasingly common trend in many Latin American countries: Nicaragua, Panama, Chile and Argentina all elected women as presidents.

In the simultaneous parliamentary polls, Ms Chinchilla's centrist National Liberation Party failed to win a majority in the 57-member Congress, making the forging of alliances a necessity.

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