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Guide to Costa Rica: People

Written by Thomas Power | 10th January 2014 |


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Costa Rica is a country blessed by exuberant nature, pristine beaches and an inmense biodiversity.

However, what is often not mentioned but really makes this country a special place is its people.

""Where there is a Costa Rican, wherever he is, there will always be freedom"" Jose María Sanguinetti, ex-president of Uruguay once said.

"Ticos", as Costa Ricans are known, are generally considered to be open minded, courteous, calm, hospitable and hard working

Costa Ricans are normally fiercely proud of their culture and their country.

Ticos are predominantly direct descendants of Spanish colonists. Costa Rica was lucky to be the most neglected part of colonial Central America because of the absence of mineral wealth (gold and silver) or an abundant indigenous population.

Therefore, colonists who arrived Costa Rica were not looking to exploit the place and instead wanted a place to work and settle down with their families.

They originated one of largest middle classes of America, peaceful farming families.

Costa Rica has a long democratic tradition which has managed to avoid conflict. Energy has instead been spent on developing social equality.

Costa Rica is considered a progressive nation, as it has more teachers than policemen, more biological reserves than cities and a comprehensive range of social programs.

These are not necessarily modern phenomena either.

Free, tax-subsidized education as a constitutional right was granted in 1869. The death penalty was banned in 1882. The national army was disbanded in 1948.

Social development and order are key to Costa Rica's approach. It is not entirely surprising that Costa Rica came out top of a list of the world's happiest countries in 2009.

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