The Adventures of Peacefull

30 September, History of Costa Rica

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For cities in other countries, see Costa Rica, Sinaloa and Costa Rica, Mato Grosso do Sul.   For the plant genus Costarica, see its synonym Sicyos.

Republic of Costa Rica

Flag Coat of arms

Motto: “Vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz”  (Spanish) “Long live work and peace”

Anthem: Noble patria, tu hermosa bandera  (Spanish) Noble homeland, your beautiful flag 1


(and largest city) San José

9°55′N 84°4′W / 9.917°N 84.067°W / 9.917; -84.067

Official language(s) Spanish

Recognised regional languages Mekatelyu, Bribri

Demonym Costa Rican; Tico

Government Constitutional democracy

(Presidential republic)

 –  President Laura Chinchilla

Independence Declared 

 –  from Spain September 15, 1821 

 –  from Mexico October 4, 1824 

 –  from UPCA March 21, 1847 

 –  Recognized by Spain May 10, 1850 


 –  Total 51,100 km2 (128th)

19,653 sq mi 

 –  Water (%) 0.7


 –  July 2010 estimate 4,253,897[1] (123rd)

GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate

 –  Total $48.881 billion[2] 

 –  Per capita $10,579[2] 

GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate

 –  Total $29.318 billion[2] 

 –  Per capita $6,345[2] 

Gini (2007) 48.0[1] (high) (30th)

HDI (2007) ▲ 0.854 (high) (54th)

Currency Costa Rican colón (CRC)

Time zone CTZ (UTC-6)

Drives on the right

Costa Rica (pronounced /ˌkoʊstə ˈriːkə/ ( listen)), officially the Republic of Costa Rica (Spanish: Costa Rica or República de Costa Rica, pronounced [reˈpuβlika ðe ˈkosta ˈrika]) is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the east and south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and south and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

Costa Rica, which means “Rich Coast”, constitutionally abolished its army permanently in 1949,[3][4][5] thus becoming militarily neutral. It is the only Latin American country included in the list of the world’s 22 older democracies.[6] Costa Rica has consistently been among the top Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index, and ranked 54th in the world in 2007.[7] The country is ranked 3rd in the world, and 1st among the Americas, in terms of the 2010 Environmental Performance Index.[8]

In 2007 the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbon neutral country by 2021.[9][10][11] According to the New Economics Foundation, Costa Rica ranks first in the Happy Planet Index and is the “greenest” country in the world.[12]

In pre-Columbian times the indigenous people of Costa Rica were part of the international Intermediate Area located between the Mesoamerican and Andean cultural regions. This has recently been updated to include the influence of the Isthmo-Colombian area. This was the point where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures met.

A pre-Columbian incense burner with a crocodile lid (500 – 1350 AD), from Costa Rica.The northwest of the country, the Nicoya Peninsula, was the southernmost point of the Nahuatl cultural influence when the Spanish conquerors (conquistadores) arrived in the sixteenth century. The central and southern portions of the country had Chibcha influences. However, the indigenous people have influenced modern Costa Rican culture to a relatively small degree, as most of them died from diseases such as smallpox[13] and mistreatment by the Spanish colonizers.

Costa Rica’s distance from this hub led to difficulty in establishing trade routes and was one of the reasons that Costa Ricans developed in relative isolation and with little oversight from the Spanish Monarchy (“The Crown”). Although this isolation allowed the colony to develop free of intervention by The Crown, it also contributed to its failure to share in the prosperity of the Colonies.[14] Costa Rica was described as “the poorest and most miserable Spanish colony in all America” by a Spanish governor in 1719.[15]

A factor in this poverty was the lack of indigenous people used as forced labor. Although many Spaniards in the other colonies had tribal members working on their land, most of the Costa Rican settlers had to work on their own land themselves. For all these reasons Costa Rica was by and large unappreciated and overlooked by the Crown and left to develop on its own. It is believed that the circumstances during this period led to the formation of many of the idiosyncrasies for which Costa Rica has become known, whereas concomitantly setting the stage for Costa Rica’s development as a more egalitarian society than the rest of its neighbors. Costa Rica became a “rural democracy” with no oppressed mestizo or indigenous class. It was not long before Spanish settlers turned to the hills, where they found rich volcanic soil and a climate that was milder than that of the lowlands.[16]

Costa Rica joined other Central American provinces in 1820 in a joint declaration of independence from Spain, won by Guatemala. After a brief time in the Mexican Empire (in which Guatemala also broke away from and declared independence for all Central America countries) of Agustín de Iturbide Costa Rica became a state in the Federal Republic of Central America from 1823 to 1839, after which the Federal Republic of Central America organization died. In 1824 the capital was moved to San José, but violence briefly ensued through an intense rivalry with Cartago. Although the newly independent provinces formed a federation, border disputes broke out among them, adding to the region’s turbulent history and conditions.

The 1849 national coat of arms was featured in the first postal stamp issued in 1862.Costa Rica’s membership in the newly formed galaxy, free of Spanish rule, was short-lived; in 1838, long after the Central American Federation ceased to function in practice, Costa Rica formally withdrew and proclaimed itself sovereign. The distance from Guatemala City to the Central Valley of Costa Rica, where most of the population lived and still lives, was great. The local population had little allegiance to the government in Guatemala City, in part because of the history of isolation during Colonial times. Costa Rica’s disinterest in participating as a province in a greater Central American government was one of the deciding factors in the break-up of the fledgling federation into independent states, which still exist today. However, all of the Central American nations still celebrate September 15 as their independence day, which pertains to the independence of Central America from Spain.

Most Afro-Costa Ricans, who constitute about 3% of the country’s population, descend from Jamaican immigrants who arrived during the 1870s to work in the construction of railways connecting the urban populations of the Central Plateau to the port of Limón on the Caribbean coast.[17] United States convicts and Chinese immigrants also participated in the construction project, conducted by U.S. businessman Minor C. Keith. In exchange for completing the railroad, the Costa Rican government granted Keith large tracts of land and a lease on the train route, which he used to produce bananas and export them to the United States. As a result, bananas came to rival coffee as the principal Costa Rican export, while foreign-owned corporations (including the United Fruit Company) began to hold a major role in the national economy.

20th century

Historically, Costa Rica has generally enjoyed greater peace and more consistent political stability compared with many of its fellow Latin American nations. Since the late nineteenth century, however, Costa Rica has experienced two significant periods of violence. In 1917–19, Federico Tinoco Granados ruled as a dictator until he was overthrown and forced into exile. Again in 1948, José Figueres Ferrer led an armed uprising in the wake of a disputed presidential election. With more than 2,000 dead, the resulting 44-day Costa Rican Civil War was the bloodiest event in Costa Rica during the twentieth-century.

Afterwards, the new, victorious government junta, led by the opposition, abolished the military and oversaw the drafting of a new constitution by a democratically elected assembly. Having enacted these reforms, the regime finally relinquished its power on November 8, 1949, to the new democratic government. After the coup d’état, Figueres became a national hero, winning the country’s first democratic election under the new constitution in 1953. Since then, Costa Rica has held 13 presidential elections, the latest being in 2010. All of them have been widely regarded by the international community as peaceful, transparent, and relatively smooth transitions.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”

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Gandhi Ashram