The focus in this paper is on Costa Rica that appears one of the oldest democracies in the western hemisphere and even in the world with the longest continuous period of democratic stability in Latin America, presidential form of government, universal suffrage rights for both adult males and females. …
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The paper tells that having gained its independence from Spain as part of the broader Central American independence movement in the former Kingdom of Guatemala, Costa Rica became a constituent province of the short-lived Federal Republic of Central America, or Central American Union. Following the Union dissolution in 1838, Costa Rica proclaimed itself as a sovereign nation under Braulio Carrillo, who was ultimately removed from power in 1842; in 1847, Jose Maria Castro Madriz was appointed President of Costa Rica, who, during his first term of office, formally declared Costa Rica an independent republic. The constitutional reform of 1848 attempted to establish basic civil rights and might be thought to have laid the foundations for a tradition of political moderation and civilian government despite having had some interludes of military rule. Two significant periods of political turmoil had taken place since the late 19th century, the first of which started with the 1917 military coup against Gonza Flores administration, led by General Tinoco Granados, whose rule failed to gain recognition from the United States and had eventually ended in 1919 under both external and internal pressure. The second one is considered the bloodiest event in the 20th-century Costa Rican history – the civil war following a highly contentious presidential election in 1948, which lasted 44 days and caused some two thousand fatalities. The Costa Rican civil conflict led to several far-reaching effects, including the abolition of the regularly army, the foundation of one of the first welfare states in the region and the creation of a new constitution. (Meyer 1). The latter prohibited the maintenance of standing army except in case of external invasion, outlawed the communist and fascist parties, and provided for the creation of a Supreme Electoral Tribunal that would oversee the electoral process and have police power during elections; the duty to guarantee the nation’s security was assigned to a national police force called the Civil Guard (Watkins). Population and Society As of July 2011 estimates, Costa Rica’s population totals 4 576 562 people, being comprised of four major ethnic groups as follows – whites, primarily of European (Spanish) descent, which, along with the mestizos, account for 94 % of the total population; 3 % blacks, which are, for the most part, of Jamaican origin; and the remainder – 1 % Chinese and 1 % Amerindians respectively (CIA; Encyclopedia of the Nations). Some 69 % of the Costa Ricans are in the 15 to 64 age group, 6.4 % are over 65 year-old and another 24.6 % are under 15 year-old (CIA). Those living in urban areas, according to 2010 data, account for 64 % of the total population (CIA), as compared to 48 % in 2001(Population Reference Bureau, cited in Encyclopedia of the Nations). The capital city, San Jose, has 1. 416 million inhabitants as of 2009 (CIA); other large cities with population over 100 000 are Alajuela, Cartago and Puntarenas, as well as Limon and Heredia, with over 50 000 inhabitants each (Encyclopedia of the Nations). The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish while English is mainly spoken among the middle class in some urban areas, and among descendants of Jamaican origin as well (Encyclopedia of the Nations). The major religions are Roman Catholic, which is the predominant one embracing over 76 % of the population, and Evangelical – shared by 13.7% of the Costa Ricans; along with 1.3% Jehovah’s Witnesses, 0.7% other Protestants, and other religious cults (CIA). In as much as the vast majority of Costa Rica’s people belong to one and same ethnic group, namely the ‘white’ one, which also includes people of mixed ancestry, the so-called ‘whiteness’ would appear the factor that defines the Costa Rica’s population as homogeneous; this homogeneity, however, is further reinforced by the overwhelmingly common origin, hence
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This is a comparative study relating to the political economy of Costa Rica and Panama. The researcher expressed interest on these two countries who are exhibiting relative financial stability among countries in Central America.
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