Retire NOW in Costa Rica Archives
. . . and the information you need to be successful
A brief history of Costa Rica IV: Government
Return to Page One HERE!

A.M. Newspapers archive photo              
Young men play flag football in the shadow of the new stadium

A brief history of Costa Rica IV:

By Clifford Fain Dukes, Jr.
Special to Retire NOW in Costa Rica

The Spanish viceroy of Mexico City and later the viceroy of Guatemala City ruled Costa Rica until independence in 1821. But because Costa Rica was at the end of the communication line and transportation line, the country was neglected. This resulted in Costa Rica becoming known as the most God forsaken place on earth. The seaports in Puerto Limón and Caldera had not been well established yet.

In the late 1940s Costa Rica dissolved its army and wrote a new constitution. Since then it has slowly drifted left of center politically, applying constitutional right status to all sorts of feel good social programs. Due to universal health care for workers and/or their dependents, it’s easier for women to be single mothers. Since the year 2000 the illegitimate birth rate has been 50 percent with half of those not knowing who the father was. The then-president of Costa Rica’s Corte Suprema de Justica, Luis Paulino Mora Mora, requested help from the United Nations Children’s Fund in determining the cause for the high levels of juvenile crime in the country. The out-of-wedlock birthrate should offer fertile territory for analysis.

The country enjoys a literacy rate of 90 percent. It is blanketed with small community, public schools. The system offers 13 levels, i.e., kindergarten, preparatory, then grades one through eleven, and the school year runs from February through December. It is long on arts and crafts that encourages entrepreneurship in the sector of souvenirs for tourism. To receive a high school diploma requires passing a government-sponsored exam called the Ministerio. Since a diploma is required to enter the government university system, many feel that the Ministerio is made sufficiently difficult each year in order to control the pool of applicants to the universities. Many students pass the eleventh grade but never pass the Ministerio or government exam leaving them without a diploma.

There’s a tendency in all of Latin America including Costa Rica to view the developed world with an eye toward “what have you done for me lately?” China donated and built the new national soccer stadium in San Jose’s Sabana Park. This park replaced the original international airport in Costa Rica and is full of beautiful Rainbow Bark Eucalyptus trees donated by Japan. As a result of the Chinese gift of the stadium, some fear that they will pressure Costa Rica for rights to drill offshore for oil. Heretofore Costa Rica has refused drilling on its territory.

Compared to other countries in Latin America, Costa Rica had a small native population and was settled mostly by European immigrants. As a result the appearance of the population is more European than mestizo.

NEXT: A brief history of Costa Rica V: Economic considerations HERE!

Text: Copyrighted 2010  Clifford Fain Dukes, Jr. Used with permission.

Government has four main branches

By the Retire NOW in Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica has four branches of national government.

The executive branch includes the president, two vice presidents and a number of appointed ministers and administrators of independent institutes..

The udicial branch includes the courts and even the criminal investigators.

The legislative branch is the unicameral Asamblea Legislative with its 57 elected legislative deputies.

The Tribunal Supreme de Elecciones is an independent body charged with making sure the elections are fair. It supervises enrollment of political parties, their candidates and even supervises printing the ballots.

Presidents are elected by popular vote. There usually are many candidates. If no one receives 40   percent, there is runoff between the top two finishers.

Legislative candidates are not selected by popular vote but by political party members. They are listed in order on a separate ballot and the seats are distributed among parties by province based on the percent of votes each  party received. Consequently there usually are lawmakers from different parties elected from each province. Some say this created legislative logjams where the official party has trouble getting its measure passed. Alliances are the rule.

Political parties are obligated to make sure women hare nominated for a percentage of the ballot spots. The country elected its first female president, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, in February 2010.

A brief history of Costa Rica:

I. The land and climate  HERE!
II: Exploration  HERE!
III: Development of the Latin culture HERE!
IV: Government 
V: Economic considerations HERE!
VI: Some problem areas HERE!

Planning resources for would-be expats HERE!

Copyrighted 2014 A.M. Costa Ltda., San José, Costa Rica