Costa Rica

  • Barry Turner
Part of the The Statesman’s Yearbook book series (SYBK)


Discovered by Columbus in 1502 on his last voyage, Costa Rica (Rich Coast) was part of the Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain from 1540 to 1821, then of the Central American Federation until 1838 when it achieved full independence. Coffee was introduced in 1808 and became a mainstay of the economy, helping to create a peasant land-owning class. In 1948 accusations of election fraud led to a six-week civil war, at the conclusion of which José Figueres Ferrer won power at the head of a revolutionary junta. A new constitution abolished the Army. In 1986 Oscar Arias Sánchez was elected president. He promised to prevent Nicaraguan anti-Sandinista (contra) forces using Costa Rica as a base. In 1987 he received the Nobel Peace Prize as recognition of his Central American peace plan, agreed to by the other Central American states. Costa Rica was beset with economic problems in the early 1990s when several politicians, including President Calderón, were accused of profiting from drug trafficking.


Free Trade Agreement Environmental Performance Index Nobel Peace Prize International Flight Election Fraud 
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Further Reading

  1. Creedman, T. S., Historical Dictionary of Costa Rica. 2nd ed. 1991Google Scholar
  2. Cruz, Consuelo, Political Culture and Institutional Development in Costa Rica and Nicaragua: World Making in the Tropics. 2005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. National Statistical Office: Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos, San José.Google Scholar
  4. Website (Spanish only):

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Turner

There are no affiliations available

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