Costa Rica showed in 2013 the lowest fertility rate in its history, with an average of 1.76 children for each woman, while infant mortality remained at a low level, the National Institute of Statistics and Census, or INEC, said Tuesday.

"The data show that fertility continues to decline," which, "added to the stability of mortality rates, indicates a gradual aging of the Costa Rican population," INEC said in a statement.

The fertility rate has dropped over the past decade, since in 2003 there was an average of 2.12 children per woman.

Going back even further, in the year 2000 the rate was 2.4 children, in 1990 it was 3.6, in 1970 it was 4.8, and in 1960 no less than 7.1 children per woman, according to official figures.

INEC figures also show a drop in births during 2013 with a total number of 70,550 newborns, fewer than the 73,326 in 2012.

Infant mortality in 2013 stood at 8.67 for every 1,000 live births, barely changed from the 2012 figure of 8,51 deaths, the lowest in Costa Rican history.

Nearly 75 percent of these deaths occurred in the first 28 days after the babies were born. Besides premature babies, most of the victims suffered from neonatal respiratory distress syndrome or from congenital malformations, INEC said. EFE