Costa Rica (Rich Coast in Spanish) is a country of Central America. Due to its position in the isthmus, it was never really appreciated in its time. There weren’t many locals when the Spaniards came to colonize, because of its location right between the Mezoamerican culture and the Andean culture. The few locals died swiftly of the diseases carried by the settlers (the only ones who survived were little tribes like the Bribri and the Boruca, which still survive today); that meant there just wasn’t any people who could be ‘invited’ to do forced labor, so they had to do it themselves. As a result, the society grew much more uniformly than in the neighboring countries. Costa Rica at that time was part of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, but it was too far from its capital. This, along with the prohibition of commercializing with Panama (then part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada), turned the country into one of the poorest of the region. After the Mexican War of Independence, Costa Rica (along with all the other countries of Central America) became automatically independent and part of the Federal Republic of Central America. But this didn’t solve the distance problem that made Costa Rica almost like an outcast in the nation. So, they decided to declare themselves independent in 1838. The other countries didn’t care, because it had the reputation of the loner. Contrary of what one would expect, Costa Rica didn’t end up a Banana Republic. First of all, their main export was coffee, not bananas. Second, the worst thing they saw was a bloody civil war in 1948, which brought a radical change in the administration of the country. Since then, the country has been much more prosperous than its neighbors, enjoying a democratic rule until today. According to the Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica is the happiest place on Earth,note but that doesn’t mean it’s full of Stepford Smilers, but rather they enjoy life despite the economical problems (i.e. inflation). The phrase “Pura Vida” (“Pure Life”) condenses their way of thinking. Accordingly to the location and the history of the country, its culture is mixed as hell. It’s also a nice destination for medical tourism and sex tourism (this way even the tourists are mixed as hell!) One last thing; after the civil war, the government abolished the military. Not only it was the first country to do it, but it’s also the only country in Latin America without military (no doubt that helped dodge the military rule of almost all the continent). But what about the novel Jurassic Park, where the dinosaurs are destroyed by the Costa Rica Air Force? Well, that was just Michael Crichton not making enough research. Do not confuse with Puerto Rico, which is not even a nation, but some weird pseudo-independent thing of the United States (more like a state, actually).
The Costa Rican flag
The flag retains the blue/white color scheme of the Federal Republic of Central America, but with a red band added as reaction to the 1848 Revolution in France, which advocated the "right to work". The blue band stands for the sky, opportunities, idealism and perseverance; white for peace, wisdom and happiness; and red for sacrifice, warmth and generosity. At the center-hoist side is the coat-of-arms, showing an allegorical landscape of three mountains between two seas, each with a boat sailing by, symbolizing Costa Rica's geographic position, and crowned by seven stars which stand for the provinces of Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas and San José.