The Republic of Costa Rica (literally the ‘Rich Coast’) has been an independent State since the year 1821, although it formed, from 1824 to 1829, part of the Confederation of Central America. It is governed under a Constitution promulgated on December 7, 1871, and modified very frequently since that date. The legislative power is now vested in a single chamber called the Constitutional Congress, and made up (since 1939) of 44 deputies, one for every 8,000 inhabitants. The members of the Chamber are elected for the term of four years, one-half retiring every two years. The President is elected for four years ; the candidate receiving the largest vote, provided it is over 40 per cent, of the total, is elected, but a second ballot is required if no candidate gets 40 per cent. of the total. By the Election Law of August 18, 1913, universal suffrage was adopted for all male citizens who are of age and able to support themselves, except those deprived of civil rights, criminals, bankrupts and the insane. Voting for President, Deputies and Municipal Councillors is, by the Law of July 26, 1925, secret, dirent and free and, by an amendment to the Constitution in 1936, compulsory. Diplomatic relations with Panama, severed since 1921, were resumed October, 1928. Costa Rica is the seat of the Pan-American Agricultural Institute, serving all Latin America.
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