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Costa Rica History

Costa Rica - national flagCosta Rica - national flag

After becoming independent from Spain in 1821, Costa Rica became part of the Central American Union in 1823, whose flag had stripes in the colors blue, white and blue. In the following decades, different flags were adopted, though all with the same colored stripes. At the dissolution of the union for approximately In 1840 the blue-and-white flag was retained, and in 1848 the red stripe was added under the impression of the revolution in France the same year.

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Costa Rica - History

Although the early Native American population of Costa Rica did not leave large structures, the archaeological finds of pottery, stone, jade, and gold testify to a high level of development.

On his fourth voyage in 1502, Columbus docked on the Caribbean coast and may have given Costa Rica its name 'The Rich Coast'. Despite this, in colonial times, Costa Rica was a poor and forgotten province that administratively belonged to Guatemala. The isolation contributed to the development of a strong sense of independence among the population.

In 1821, Costa Rica became independent from Spain. For a few years the country was annexed to the Mexican Empire and then until 1838 a member of the Central American Federal Republic; then it was declared an independent republic. Coffee exports, which from approximately 1850 especially went to England, formed the basis of state formation.

Costa Rica History

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Presidents (elected)
1848 José María Castro
1848-1859 Juan Rafael Mora
1859-1863 José María Montealegre
1863-1866 Jesus Jimenez
1866-1868 José María Castro
1868-1870 Jesus Jimenez
1870-1876 Tomás Guardia
1877-1882 Tomás Guardia
1882-1885 Próspero Fernández
1885-1889 Bernardo Soto
1890-1894 José Rodríguez
1894-1902 Rafael Yglesias
1902-1906 Esquivel Ascension
1906-1910 Cleto González Víquez
1910-1914 Ricardo Jiménez
1914-1917 Alfredo González
1917-1919 Frederico Tinoco
1919-1920 Francisco Aguilar
1920-1924 Julio Acosta
1924-1928 Ricardo Jiménez
1928-1932 Cleto González Víquez
1932-1936 Ricardo Jiménez
1936-1940 León Castro
1940-1944 Calderón Guardia
1944-1948 Teodoro Picado
1948-1949 José Figueres
1949-1953 Otilio Ulate
1953-1958 José Figueres
1958-1962 Mario Echandi
1962-1966 Francisco Orlich
1966-1970 José J. Trejos
1970-1974 José Figueres
1974-1978 Daniel Oduber
1978-1982 Rodrigo Carazo
1982-1986 Luis Alberto Monge
1986-1990 Oscar Arias Sánchez
1990-1994 Rafael A. Calderón F.
1994-1998 José María Figueres Olsen
1998-2002 Miguel Angel Rodriguez Echeverria
2002-2006 Abel Pacheco de la Espriella
2006-2010 Oscar Arias Sánchez
2010-2014 Laura Chincilla Miranda
2014- Luis Guillermo Solís

With the construction of a railway in the 1870's from the central highlands to Limón, American capital and the banana companies emerged. The coffee landowners had to share power with these and thus see their legitimacy as rulers challenged by smaller farmers. At the same time, fluctuations in international prices ruined many small producers, and the concentration of land in fewer hands picked up speed.

Among the landless farm workers and guest workers from Italy, Jamaica and China on the banana plantations and at the railway construction, the germ of a labor movement arose, which after the founding of the Communist Party in 1931 led to the first major strike in the region in 1934.

In the period 1940-1944, the Christian-Democratic President Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia (1900-1970) passed advanced social legislation with the support of the Archbishop of the Catholic Church Víctor Manuel Sanabria (1898-1952) and of Manuel Mora (1909-1994), Secretary General for the Communist Party.

At the 1948 election, there were certain irregularities, and José Figueres, a young Social Democrat-oriented businessman, began an armed uprising to get the election result respected.

He retained power as president for 18 months and with the new constitution in 1949 introduced a number of important reforms: decentralization of the state apparatus, nationalization of the banking system (among other things to deprive coffee owners of the monopoly on lending and to promote his own political project on cultivation of new export crops and industrialization of the country), the abolition of the army, etc. In 1953 he founded the PLN (National Liberation Party).

Both Christian and Social Democratic legislation from the 1940's and 1950's form the basis of modern Costa Rica. The country is thus a peaceful oasis without major social tensions in the otherwise troubled Central America.

Until the 1950's, Costa Rica was relatively sparsely populated by a relatively homogeneous, predominantly white population. The 1927 census shows that the country had only 472,000 residents, of which less than 50,000 lived in the capital San José.

With approximately 10 percent of the population today are immigrants, especially refugees from neighboring countries; the large population growth is mainly due to the improved economic and health conditions. The dominant classes were therefore already from the middle of the last century foresighted enough to promote education and qualification of the scarce and relatively expensive labor. The elementary school became free, compulsory, and paid for by the state as early as 1869.

This historical effort also explains the country's low illiteracy of less than 10 percent and thus in line with major countries such as Chile and Argentina. This has undoubtedly helped to spare the country from civil wars and brutal dictatorships.

Presidential and parliamentary elections, which take place on the first Sunday in February every four years, are true folk festivals that people go to with their lives and souls. The electoral system is well organized and no irregularities are detected. According to the current constitution, you can only be elected president once in your life. Oscar Arias Sánchez, who was Social Democratic president from 1986-1990, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in the Central American peace negotiations.

Up through the 1990's, Social Democrats and bourgeois alternated to govern the country. The Social Democratic Party PLN held power from 1986 to 1990 and 1994 to 1998, while the Party for Christian Social Unity, PUSC, held power from 1990 to 1994 and 1998 to 2002.

The Social Democratic president José María Figueres Olsen tried to fight rising poverty during his reign from 1994 to 1998, but had to lay off people and lower wages and pensions due to poor public finances.

Conservative President Miguel Ángel Rodríguez (b. 1940), who held the post from 1998 to 2002, set about privatizing state-owned enterprises and attracting foreign capital.

In the 2002 election, Abel Pacheco (b. 1933) from PUSC won. In his election campaign, Pacheco promised more efficiency and higher social welfare.

In the 2006 election, the popular Oscar Arias Sánchez was re-elected president after an international career. At the 2010 election, Arias Sánchez was replaced by Laura Chincilla Miranda of the PLN, who became the country's first female president. In 2014, she was replaced by Luis Guillermo Solís from the moderate left-wing PAC (Partido Acción Ciudadana - Citizens' Action Party).

 

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