Costa Rica Info
National Motto: Pura vida! (Popular saying translating roughly to “This is living!”)
Official Language: Spanish
Capital: San Jose
Independence: From Spain September 15, 1821
Currency: Colon (CRC)
Time Zone: UTC -6
National Anthem: Noble patria, tu hermosa bandera
Internet TLD: .cr
Calling Code: 506
The Republic of Costa Rica is a Country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south-southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Costa Rica is seen as an example of political stability in the region, and is sometimes referred to as the “Switzerland of the Americas”. Costa Rica was the first country in the world to constitutionally abolish the army.History of Costa Rica
In Pre-Columbian times the Native Americans in what is now Costa Rica were part of the Intermediate Area located between the Mesoamerican and Andean cultural regions. This has recently been redefined to include the Isthmo-Colombian area, defined by the presence of groups that spoke Chibchan languages. These groups are also believed to have created the Stone spheres of Costa Rica, between 200 BC and AD 1600.
The native people of the Mayans and Aztecs were conquered by Spain in the 16th century. Costa Rica was then the southernmost province in the Spanish territory of New Spain. The provincial capital was in Cartago.
After briefly joining the Mexican Empire of Agust?n de Iturbide (see: History of Mexico and Mexican Empire), Costa Rica became a state in the United Provinces of Central America (see: History of Central America) from 1823 to 1839. In 1824, the capital moved to San Jose. From the 1840s on, Costa Rica was an independent nation.
Costa Rica has avoided the violence that has plagued Central America. Since the late 19th century only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development. In 1949, Jose Figueres Ferrer abolished the Army; and since then Costa Rica has been one of the few countries to operate within the democratic system without the assistance of a military. Costa Rica (Spanish for “Rich Coast”), although still a largely agricultural country, has achieved a relatively high standard of living. Land ownership is widespread and Electronics is a rapidly expanding industry.Geography
Costa Rica is located on the Central American Isthmus, 10 degrees North of the Equator and 84 degrees West of the Prime Meridian. It borders both the Caribbean Sea (to the east) and the North Pacific Ocean (to the west), with a total of 1,290 km of coastline (212km on the Caribbean coast and 1016 km on the Pacific).
Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua to the north (309 km of border) and Panama to the south-southeast (639 km of border). In total, Costa Rica comprises 51,100 km?, of which 50,610 km? is land and 440 km? is water, making it slightly smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia and about half the size of Ireland.
The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripo, with 3,810 m (approximately 12,515 feet), the second highest peak in Central America, after Volcan Tajumulco in Guatemala. The highest volcano in the country is the Iraz? Volcano (3,431 m or 11,257 feet).
Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island stands out because of its distance from continental landmass (24 km, 500 km from Puntarenas coast), but Calero Island is the biggest island of the country (151.6 km).
The largest lake in Costa Rica is Lake Arenal. The country is highly recognized and praised for its national park system: a developed and progressive system which stresses on Ecotourism. Costa Rica protects over 25% of its national territory within national parks.Provinces
Costa Rica consists of seven provinces:
Alajuela (central; north of capital San Jose)
Puntarenas (Area around capital)Economy
Costa Rica’s economy is dependent on , Ecotourism, agriculture, and more recently, electronics exports. Originally having benefited from Nicaraguan expatriates’ investment in the early 80’s, the economy then emerged from Recession in 1997 and has since shown strong growth. Costa Rica’s location in the Central American Isthmus provides easy access to American markets as it has the same time zone as the central part of the United States and direct ocean access to Europe and Asia.
The economy has been booming for Costa Rica because the Government had implemented a seven year plan of expansion in the high tech industry. They have tax exemptions for those who are willing to invest in the country. With their high level of educated residents, they make an attractive investing location. Several global high tech corporations have already started developing in the area exporting goods.
The unit of Currency is the colon (CRC).Flora and Fauna
Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.1% of the world’s land mass, it contains 5% of the world’s Biodiversity. Costa Rica has no Military or Navy, but an abundance of Wildlife; it has been said that the soldiers are the leaf cutter ants, the pilots are the macaws and the navy ships are the whales. Over 25% of Costa Rica is composed of protected forests and reserves.
One national park that is internationally renowned among ecologists for its biodiversity (including big cats and tapirs) and where visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife is the Corcovado National Park.
Tortuguero National Park is home to spider, howler and White-throated Capuchin monkeys, the Three-toed sloth, 320 species of birds (including eight species of parrots), and a variety of reptiles.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve hosts 2,000 plant species including numerous orchids. Over 800 types of bird can be found here, as well as over 100 species of Mammal.Demographics
In the central part of the country, most people are of European descent but some are also Mestizos (to varying degrees). Because of little intermarriage, most of the population today retain European complexions. The pure indigenous population today numbers about 29,000, less than one percent of the population. In Guanacaste, most of the population descends from a mix of the Chorotega Indians, Bantu Africans and Spaniards. Descendants of black 19th-century Jamaican immigrant workers constitute an English-speaking minority and at three percent of the population number about 96,000. Costa Ricans of Mestizo and European descent account for a combined 94 percent (the vast majority being of Spanish decent). Another one percent is ethnically Chinese. In addtion there are many Americans who either come to retire or move to country to live.
Today there is a growing number of Amerindians who migrate for seasonal work opportunities as agricultural workers mainly in the south-eastern border region with Panama. The most important group of immigrants in Costa Rica are Nicaraguans, who represent ten percent of the population. Most of them were originally refugees from Civil war during the late 1970s and 1980s, but after the Esquipulas Peace Agreement an increasing number of Nicaraguans continue to migrate into Costa Rica due to economic reasons. There is also a growing number of Colombian, Panamanian and Peruvian immigrants.Culture
In Costa Rica, the locals refer to themselves as Tico, maje or mae (sort of “man”, actually maje means “dumb”) idiom in a very popular and “only with close friends” way, or tica (female). “Tico” comes from the locally popular usage of “tico” diminutive suffixes (eg. ‘momentico’ instead of ‘momentito’). The tico ideal is that of a very friendly, helpful, laid back, unhurried, educated and environmentally aware people, with little worry for deadlines or the “normal” stresses of United States life. Visitors from the United States are often referred to as gringos, which is virtually always congenial in nature. The phrase “Pura Vida” (literally pure life) is a motto ubiquitous in Costa Rica. It encapsulates the pervading ideology of living in peace in a calm, unflustered manner, appreciating a life surrounded by nature and family and friends.
Costa Rica boasts a varied history. Costa Rica was the point where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures met. The north west of the country, Nicoya, was the southernmost point of Nahuatl cultural influence when the Spanish conquerors (conquistadores) came in the 16th century. The center and south portions of the country had Chibcha influences. However the Indian people influenced Costa Rica as a whole very little as much of the Indians died from disease and mistreatment of the Spaniards. The Atlantic coast was populated with African slaves due to the practice of enslavement in the 17th and 18th centuries. In addition, during this 19th century thousands of Chinese and Italian families came to the country to work on the construction of the railroad system connecting the urban populations of the Central Plateau to the port of Limon on the Caribbean.