Is Costa Rica really the best nation on earth? This paper through qualitative analysis of legitimate website sources, published work and peer reviewed articles aims at determining whether the level of satisfaction of Costa Ricans with their country exceeds that of other countries. This paper, besides giving a brief history of Costa Rica, will explore the structure of the government of Costa Rica, the current problems facing the nation, in addition to a short bibliography of its current leader so as to determine the reasons as to why the country is important. Introduction
Costa Rica is a middle-income developing nation which has a strong democratic tradition (Vorhees and Firestone, 2006). The country possesses numerous and extensive tourist facilities. The country has come a long way, characterized by periods of peace and political turmoil, to its current status. Christopher Columbus first entered Costa Rica on September 1502 (Vorhees and Firestone, 2006). Columbus stayed in the country for seventeen days and was pleased by the architectural designs and gold decorations worn by natives. As a result, he named the country Costa Rica, meaning the rich coast.
The capital city of Costa Rica is San Jose. Spanish is the major language in Costa Rica, with English coming second. Costa Rica was colonized by Spain, even though it had resisted colonization for many years. It took over sixty years for the Spanish settlers to establish a strong hold of the country (Vorhees and Firestone, 2006). Costa Rica has a distinct form of government. One unique characteristic of Costa Rican’s administration is that it does not have a military force. Approximately 92% of the Costa Rican population practice Christian faith (Vorhees and Firestone, 2006).
Catholicism is the state religion, and as a result, only Roman Catholic marriages are recognized as legal by the government. The quality and standards of education in Costa Rica are very high as compared to the neighboring countries. Costa Rica has the highest rate of literacy in Latin America (Vorhees and Firestone, 2006). Nation Survey: Costa Rica Brief history of Costa Rica Costa Rica is a country lying in between mountains and volcanoes in the western region of the Americas. It has four characteristic mountain ranges namely, Tilaran and Guancaste in the north Talamanca and central in the south.
The history of Costa Rica can be traced back to over a hundred thousand years. By then, the country was sparsely populated. There exists no tangible sign of the existence of a major community in the country during that period. It is estimated that there were over twenty thousand indigenous inhabitants in the country by 1502 (Vorhees and Firestone, 2006). These people came from different backgrounds and had separate cultures and beliefs. McNeil (2001) makes it clear that the main inhabitants of ancient Costa Rica are believed to have been the Indians.
Hostility of these people acted as a major factor that deterred colonialists from entering Costa Rica. However, a colonial base was established by the Spanish in Costa Rica (Baker, n. d). Civil war broke out in1823, in Costa Rica, after Central America was granted independence. Costa Rican leaders were divided on whether to join the newly sovereign Mexico or to join the confederation of Central American states. In 1824, Juan Mora Fernandez was elected as the first president of Costa Rica (Vorhees and Firestone, 2006).
Fernandez implemented policies that promoted expansion of public education and agriculture. This resulted in the establishment and growth of new Costa Rican elite. The early years of political development in Costa Rica were characterized by anarchy. For twelve years, starting 1870, Costa Rica was under the rule of a military dictator General Tom S Guardia (Vorhees and Firestone, 2006). In 1940, Dr. Rafael Angel Calder? n Guardia was elected as the president of Costa Rica (Vorhees and Firestone, 2006). Guardia implemented a number of policies including land reforms, progressive taxation, and minimum wage.
However, a civil war erupted in 1948, after Guardia under the support of his United Social Christian Party refused to quit power after being defeated in elections (Baker, n. d). The war lasted for forty days and resulted in the death of over two thousand people. The Founding Junta of the Second Republic of Costa Rica was headed by Figueres. Figueres developed various policies and merged them with the reforms of Guardia (McNeil, 2001). The communist party was banned, women were given the right to vote and blacks were given full citizenship. Armed forces were also abolished and a term limit for the heads of state was established.
In 1986, Oscar Arias Sanchez was elected as the Costa Rican head of state (Baker, n. d). Oscar implemented policies and strategies aimed at promoting peace in the western region. Structure of the government of Costa Rica Costa Rica is a democratic nation which has a very strong system of constitutional checks and balances. The president, who is bestowed with executive powers, acts as the center of power for Costa Rican government. The government is made up of two vice presidents and twenty cabinet members. The president and other members of parliament and their deputies are elected for four-year terms.
The Costa Rican Constitutional Court, in April 2003, declared a 1969 constitutional reform that barred presidents from running for re-election as invalid. This made the law to revert back to the 1949 constitution (Travel Document Systems, 2009). This law allows former presidents to run for re-elections after they have been out of office for two or more terms. McNeil (2001) states that the work of supervising the electoral process is carried out by an Independent Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which is made up of three principle magistrates and six alternates appointed by the Supreme Court of Justice.
The Supreme Court of Justice is made up of twenty two magistrates, who are selected for eight-year renewable terms by the legislative assembly (Travel Document Systems, 2009). The last national elections were held in February 2010. Supervision of government activities is carried out by the office of the Comptroller General, the Ombudsman and the Solicitor General. The statutory obligation of the office of the Comptroller General is to scrutinize all contracts of the public sector and firmly enforce procedural requirements (Travel Document Systems, 2009).
Even though there are provincial boundaries for purposes of administration, there are no elected provincial officials. The first mayoral elections in Costa Rica were held in December 2002 (Travel Document Systems, 2009). Mayors are supposed to hold office for four years. The office of the mayor was not in existence before December 2002. Administration of municipalities was the mandate of the president of each municipal council. Most of the state agencies in Costa Rica enjoy high levels of operational independence.
These agencies include: the state insurance, the telecommunications, electoral body, state petroleum refinery, social security agencies, and nationalized commercial banks (McNeil 2001). Maintenance of law and order in Costa Rica is conducted by domestic police along with other domestic forces. There is no military in Costa Rica. Respect for the rights of individuals and development of democracy are some of the major issues the government of Costa Rica emphasizes on (Vorhees and Firestone, 2006). The political system of the country has undergone steady development, and democratic institutions have been maintained in an orderly manner.
There are various factors that have resulted in the steady development of Costa Rican politics. These factors include: enlightened leadership, educational opportunities that have resulted in development of a stable middle class, flexible class lines in addition to relative prosperity (Travel Document Systems, 2009). Based on the fact that Costa Rica has no military forces, chances of military involvement in politics and government operations have been eliminated. Biographical sketch of Laura Chinchilla Laura Chinchilla is the current president of Costa Rica. She is the first woman to be elected president of Costa Rica.
Laura Chinchilla Miranda was born in San Jose Costa Rica on March 28, 1959 (Chinchilla, 2010). Chinchilla grew up in left-wing College halls when the countries neighboring Costa Rica were entangled in civil war. She studied at the University of Costa Rica. During her school years, Chinchilla was very much concerned about the welfare of the people as a result of the numerous challenges facing the world by then. Chinchilla obtained her master’s in public policy at Georgetown University. Laura has published great articles, books and monographs concerning justice, public security and police reforms.
Between 1994 and 1996, Laura worked as the deputy minister of public security and later as minister of public security (1996-98) (Chinchilla, 2010). Before being elected president, Laura acted as the vice president to Oscar Arias Sanchez. Laura took office in May 2010 (Chinchilla, 2010). Problems facing Costa Rica Universidad de Pennsylvania (2010), states that Laura Chinchilla, the first woman Costa Rican president, is faced by numerous challenges. Poverty is one of the major problems facing the country. Poverty has been a long standing and legal concern in Costa Rica. Only those who are wealthy are likely to live on a healthy diet.
Crime is the other major challenge that Costa Rican leaders are faced with. Local law enforcement agencies do not have the capacity to effectively deal with crime as compared to other countries like the United States. Robberies are conducted during the day (Universidad de Pennsylvania, 2010). Colombian cartels are also invading the country leading to an increase in the level of drug trafficking. Costa Rica is also faced by numerous health challenges. Diseases such as malaria, dengue, travelers’ diarrhea, altitude sickness and hepatitis are a major cause of worry for Costa Rican leaders.
Traffic accidents act as a major cause of death in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is also faced with a variety of environmental challenges (Universidad de Pennsylvania, 2010). These include: deforestation, soil erosion, environmental pollution, and poor solid waste management. Presence of dangerous insects is the other challenge facing Costa Rica. Ticks, which are the common insects found in the tropics, transmit numerous diseases. The other major challenge is the current global economic recession, which has adversely affected the economic growth of Costa Rica.
During this period, Costa Rica has experienced a fiscal deficit of approximately 5%. This is the highest level of deficit Costa Rica have had for the last ten years (Universidad de Pennsylvania, 2010). Estimation of why this country is important The likelihood of contracting serious diseases in Costa Rica is very low. The health system in Costa Rica is excellent and the quality of sanitary systems is high. Even though there may be outbreaks of mosquito borne diseases such as dengue during wet seasons, serious cases of hemorrhaging dengue are rare.
Greenspan (2009), states that Costa Ricans do not require vaccinations for a variety of diseases because they have been eradicated in the whole country. Diseases such as infectious hepatitis are a serious threat to human beings but have rarely been reported in Costa Rica. The level of public safety in Costa Rica is relatively high. There have been no recent cases of terrorism reported in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a major tourist destination; there is numerous attraction sites scattered all over the country. The country is popular as a result of adventure tourism (Greenspan, 2009).
Safety of tourists is monitored by the government, which have implemented policies to make sure that tourist companies meet the stipulated safety standards and have insurance coverage. Various commodities which are expensive in other countries can be bought at a cheaper price in Costa Rica. The cost of living and traveling in Costa Rica is relatively cheap as compared to other Latin American countries (Greenspan, 2009). Conclusion It can therefore be concluded that Costa Rica is one of the best nations in the world.
It is one of the few countries where citizens are contented with their government and the mode of leadership. Costa Rica enjoys a sovereign in addition to strong criminal justice system as well as a highly educated population which comprehends and reverences the rule of law. The history of Costa Rica can be traced back to over a hundred thousand years. By then, the country was sparsely populated. The main inhabitants of ancient Costa Rica are believed to have been the Indians. The early years of political development in Costa Rica were characterized by anarchy.
For twelve years, starting 1870, Costa Rica was under the rule of a military dictator General Guardia. Costa Rica is a democratic nation which has a very strong system of constitutional checks and balances. The president acts as the center of power for Costa Rican government. The government is made up of two vice presidents and twenty cabinet members. The president and other members of parliament and their deputies are elected for four-year terms. Laura Chinchilla Miranda, born in San Jose Costa Rica on March 28, 1959, is the current president and the first woman to be elected president of Costa Rica.
Currently, Costa Rica is faced by a number of problems including the current global economic recession, crime, and poverty. However, the country remains one of the major tourist destinations in the world. This is due to the high level of public safety and cheap cost of living and traveling. Reference: Baker C. , (n. d. ), History, retrieved on August 12, 2010 from http://philip. greenspun. com/cr/mo on/history Chinchilla L. , (2010), Biography of Laura Chinchilla Costa Rica, retrieved on August 12, 2010 from http://laura-chinchilla. com/biography-laura-chinchilla-costa-rica-presidential-campaign/
Travel Document Systems, (2009), Government, retrieved on August 12, 2010 from http://www. traveldocs. com/cr/govern. htm Universidad de Pennsylvania, (2010), The Challenges Facing Costa Rica’s First Woman President, retrieved on August 12, 2010 from http://www. wharton. universia. net/index .cfm? fa=viewArticle&id=1900&language=english Vorhees, M and Firestone M. , (2006). (edn 7), Costa Rica, ISBN 1741044634: Lonely Planet McNeil J. , (edn 3), (2001). The rough guide to Costa Rica, ISBN 1858287138: Rough Guides Greenspan E. , (2009), Frommer’s Costa Rica, ISBN 0470482176: Frommer’s