Costa Rica spans the Central American isthmus and so has the Pacific Ocean on the west coast and the Caribbean on the east. The north is bordered by Nicaragua and the south-east by Panama. Probably the most progressive state in the region because of decades of political stability, leading to economic and social development. This development and stability has contributed to Costa Rica becoming a leading vacation destination. The army was abolished in 1949 and it became a democracy in 1950.
The seeds of its present day social-economic form were sown in its history. Because the land lacked large indigenous populations to enslave, society developed with much more equality than in other Central American countries.
Although still poor by world standards, it is considered a leader in social development. In fact, it is the only country in the region to have universal public education and an obligation for children to attend school. Whites and mestizos make up the majority of the population, with much smaller percentages of Indians and blacks. Six indigenous languages are still spoken, plus Creole-English, which was brought by Jamaican immigrant workers.
Costa Rica is also a world leader in environmental and wildlife conservation. It banned sport hunting many years ago. Although small, it is believed to harbour five per cent of the world’s biodiversity. At least one quarter of all the land is now a protected area of some kind. Costa Rica’s conservation efforts started when it decided to slow the rapid deforestation.
The capital is San Jose. The population is just over 4 million. The political system is democratic. The official language is Spanish. The currency is the Colon. Climate: tropical. Traditional exports are coffee, bananas and pineapples, but they are more diverse now.
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