Costa Rica in Focus
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Code: 1 899365 16 8
by Tjabel Daling
Distinctive among the turbulent nations of Central America, Costa Rica enjoys a much-envied reputation for political stability and prosperity. Since abolishing its army in 1948, the 'Switzerland of Central America' has experienced unbroken democratic rule and respect for human rights. Yet this small country has also been drastically affected by the debt crisis of the 1980s and ensuing structural adjustment, with resulting increases in poverty and social inequality.
Its economy traditionally based on coffee and bananas, Costa Rica is now among the world's top eco-tourism destinations. The influx of tourists brings vital income and employment but also threatens to spoil the country's spectacular natural beauty.
Costa Rica in Focus explores:
* The history:
Indians and Spaniards; the coffee aristocrats; civil war and demilitarisation; the democratic tradition.
* The economy:
Coffee, bananas and tourism; the burden of debt; the welfare state under pressure; new markets and regional integration.
* The society:
Health, education and housing; regional inequality; indigenous and women's issues; illegal migration and social tensions.
* The environment:
The impact of export agriculture; eco-tourism and ecological planning; deforestation and transnational exploitation.
* The culture:
US and Spanish influences; literature and music; baseball and football.
* Where to go, what to see:
Must-see landmarks and historical sites as well as the author's expert tips on how to get the most out of a brief visit.
Tjabel Daling is a journalist based in Mexico City, specialising in environmental and human rights issues in Central America.