Costa Rica



Costa Rica is officially known as the Republic of Costa Rica. It is

19,575 square miles in size and has a population of approximately 3,342,000

people. It is bordered by Panama and Nicaragua. The capital of Costa Rica

is San Jose. Its coastal areas are hot and humid and heavily forested. It has a

large chain of volcanoes rising over 12,000 feet. The official language of

Costa Rica is Spanish. It is a democratic nation and has no military. Costa

Rica has only 3 national newspapers.



History

Christopher Columbus discovered Costa Rica in 1502. In 1563 Spain

began its conquest of the Costa Rican area. In 1821 Costa Rica gained

independence and was successfully part of the Mexican empire. Coffee

growing started in the early 1800's and banana cultivation began in 1874.

Costa Rica's democratic government began in 1889. Its president from 1986

to 1990 worked for peace in Central America. Economically, Costa Rica has

a history of payment problems.



Government

Costa Rica has a democratic government. Its current constitution was

adopted in 1949. In Costa Rica, the president serves as the chief executive

and head of state. The president is elected to a four year term. The

legislative assembly has fifty-seven deputies that are elected for a four year

term. The supreme court has seventeen justices appointed by the legislature.

Costa Rica's army was abolished in 1948. However, they do have a national

guard that can fight in a time of war. Costa Rica's seven provinces each have

a governer appointed by the president. All citizens 18 years of age or older

are required to vote in the national election. The country's two main political

parties are the National Liberation Party and the Social Christian Unity Party.



Population and Ancestry

In 1994, Costa Rica's population was about three and one quarter of a

millon people. It is estimated to be growing at a rate of about two and one

quarter percent. At this rate, Costa Rica's population will double in 30 years.

Costa Ricans take great pride in their country's heritage of government and

social equality. They do not take for granted their personal dignity and strong

family ties. Almost all of Costa Ricans speak Spanish but some blacks speak

with a Jamaican dialect. About 90% of the people belong to the Roman

Catholic Church.



Housing

About 50% of the Costa Ricans live on farms or in rural towns. A lot

of farmers live in Adobe cottages with thick, white stucco walls and red or

pink-tiled roofs. Most of Costa Rica's city people live in row houses. Many

Costa Ricans like to decorate their homes with plants and flowers. Wealthy

familys live in large ranch-style homes surrounded by huge gardens.



Food

Parts of the diet of many Costa Ricans can include beans, coffee, corn,

eggs, rice, and tropical fruits like bananas, guaves, mangoes, oranges, and

pineapples. Many Costa Rican families also serve beef, fish, poultry, and

many kinds of soups. Tamales and tortillas are also foods that are often

prepared.



Education

About 90 to 93% of Costa Rica's people can read or write. This is a

higher percentage than any other country in Central America. Law requires

all children to complete elementary school and then they may choose whether

or not to continue on with their education. Costa Rica has several universities

which include the National University in Heredia and the University of Costa

Rica by San Jose.



Sports and Recreation

Most Costa Ricans enjoy spending their leisure time outdoors. Soccer

is the national sport and playing fields can be found everywhere. Basketball,

tennis, and swimming are also popular. On some religious holidays,

bullfights, fireworks, and masked parades can attract thousands of Costa

Ricans and foreign tourists. The only 18-hole golf course in Costa Rica is at

the Cariari Country Club, just west of San Jose. However, there are many

9-hole courses. The country's national gymnasium is in Sabana Park. Many

tennis courts are also in Sabana Park. Rodeos and bullfights are held at Santa

Cruz. In a bullfight, the bull chases men around. During Christmas

festivities, there are also Mexican style bullfights in which the person tries to

kill the bull.



Economy

The most valuable natural resource in Costa Rica is the fertile volcanic

soil. Trees such as oaks, pines, and tropical hardwood cover about 1/3 of the

land. About 1/4 of Costa Rica's workers are in farming or ranching.

Bananas, beef cattle, coffee, corn, rice, and sugar cane are the country's

leading agricultural products. Some farmers also grow oranges, beans,

potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables. Costa Rica's leading manufactured

products include cement, clothing, cosmetics, furniture, machinery, and

medicines. Costa Rica's economy depends a lot on foreign trade. It's

leading exports include coffee, bananas, beef, and sugar. Its main imports are

petroleum, chemicals,