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1.  Area: 51,100 km (31,682 square miles)*

2.  Population: 4,000,000*

3.  Capital:  San José*

4.  Language: Spanish*

5.  Date of OAS membership: 1889

6.  Description of Costa Rica:

     The Tico spirit of cooperation also developed early. Between 300,000 and 500,000 people were living in Costa Rica when Columbus landed on the Atlantic Coast in 1502. Contrary to popular myth, the coastal tribes put up a quite a battle. Between their resistance, the impenetrable jungle and the apparent lack of treasure for plunder, the Spaniards didn’t give Costa Rica high priority. Eventually, colonizers came through what is now Guanacaste to the Central Valley. The only way for colonists to survive in this tiny, poor cousin colony was to live off the land. They built native-style homes, made native-style clothes and learned the meaning of cooperation and tolerance. Yet, they were strongly individualistic. This was the origin of Costa Rica’s firmly entrenched concept of solidarity.

     The fact that Costa Rica is a non-aggressive country with no military also has its roots in history. Costa Rica learned of its independence only after the fact, when on October 17, 1821, a rider from Nicaragua brought the news. The country subsequently joined the new Central America Federation. Perhaps because the first governor was a teacher, not a soldier, Costa Rica didn’t suffer the civil wars that plagued other countries in the federation countries of the era. Costa Ricans were too busy building schools and making paper by hand.

     Costa Rica is one of the oldest democracies in the Americas, its first election held in 1889. The few times tyranny tried to gain the upper hand it quickly failed. In 1949, the modern constitution abolished the army and directed the country’s resources to education, social programs, and economic development. Two generations have grown up without knowing war. This political stability has attracted many international organizations to Costa Rica, such as the Inter American Court of Human Rights, the International Development Bank and the Earth Council.*

7. History

8. Government

9. Economy

10. Photographs

*Source: Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the OAS.
*Source: “Costa Rica: No Artificial Ingredients”. Provided by the Costa Rica Tourist



Updated: 3 June 2008