Spanish(official), English,
white (including mestizo) 92%, black 3%, Amerindian 3%, Chinese 1%, other 1%
Nicaragua, Panama
COSTA RICA - Costa Rica is a beautiful bastion of tranquility in Central America, sandwiched between the Republic of Atlantico and Panama; it has been heavily affected by the South American wars despite its unimportance as a target for United States military. Costa Rica has been a go between for refugees on the move from conflict. During the Long Walk, a notorious event occurred among what was otherwise thought to be a "Safe Haven" by Nomads on their way back to America. The so called “Night of the Butchered Pigs,” was the single most costly event in lives of the Contractors and U.S. Military personnel left behind who were undertaking the Long Walk.  Occurring in the Valley De Serenidad, The attack was a brutal surprise assault orchestrated by Cartel forces taking refuge in the many wilderness areas of Costa Rica. This inceident gave the small nation a bad reputation in the eyes of many veterans of the war on the U.S. side. Other than its bad standing with veterans, Costa Rica maintains a good standing with corporations and governments from both Europe and the United States. It's eco-friendly policies make it popular among many young people from both superpowers and it has grown to become a tourist spot with many beachfront motels and wildlife preserves.

A democratic republic with a strong constitution, the country has had at least fifty-nine years of uninterrupted democracy, which is by far the longest in Latin America. It is one of the most stable countries in Latin America, and avoided most of the violence that has plagued Central America during the SouthAm war.  It is seen as an example of political stability in the region.

The only major changes that have occurred in government occur in the ability for Presidents to undergo re-election, as strong leadership was needed during the SouthAm war and savvy leaders stayed for a few terms in office in order to help deal with many of the grave issues that met the country head-on.  Executive responsibilities are vested in a president, who is the country's center of power. There also are two vice presidents as well as a cabinet designated by the president. The president, vice presidents, and fifty-seven Legislative Assembly delegates are elected for four-year terms. Autonomous state agencies enjoy considerable operational independence; they include the telecommunications and electrical power monopoly, the nationalized commercial banks, the state insurance monopoly, and the social security agency. Costa Rica has no military by constitution but maintains domestic police forces for internal security.  Other current political issues include security, crime, and the limiting of large-scale emigration of people from Nicaragua.

Costa Rica was the first country in the world to constitutionally abolish its army. Although they still maintain local polices forces and government officials responsible for regulation and border control. If Costa Rica reached the point of fearing actual invasion or armed conflict, it would most likely turn to outside mercenary forces, such as Lazarus, for protection.

Recently Cartel influence has created a force to be reckoned with, particularly the forces of Raul Santos, leader of the Santos Cartel which operates deep in the jungles of Costa Rica. He was one of the primary targets of the DEA when that agency still existed. Raul is known internationally as an eco-minded philanthropist and wealthy dilettante more than a dangerous drug baron. In reality, Raul has funded the push for larger nature reserves so that there would be more unregulated jungle for drug-couriers to move through. Raul Santos lives in a plantation inside the heart of a protected nature preserve and has agreed to a project known by few outside environmental circles, for the cloning of endangered species in Central and South America and their reintroduction into the forests and jungles. Raul has essentially kidnapped the researchers who agreed to this project and forced them to illegally modify several endangered species through genetic engineering, such as Jaguars and Ocelots, which he even further controls through installation of dangerous cybernetic options. These creatures he raises and trains as ‘guard dogs,’ which he uses to control his own men (for threat of being thrown into the cage with the animals) and to prepare for his own plans of vying for the Presidency in Costa Rica. Raul is a dangerous man with many political contacts and looks forward to running organized crime in the area. It is rumored that he has a larger force of Nicaraguan guerillas and other armed refugees running drugs for him, than the current police forces of Costa Rica could hope to cope with

Costa Rica is a haven for biological researchers, ecotourists, and corporates from Europe and America who enjoy its scenic beaches. Additionally it has a high-tech industry market and advanced healthcare compared to most of Central and South America (with only the exclusion of Argentina and Brazil). Illegal cybernetics modifications can be found in some parts of San Jose and other well industrialized cities with lots of medical trained professionals. Recently smuggling has become a primary industry in Costa Rica, between Cartels moving through the unregulated biological preserves in order to move drugs into and out of Panama and Nicaragua. Some of this later activity has strained relationships between Atlantico and Costa Rica, as Cartels use speedboats to run drugs and guns across Lake Nicaragua to sell to the Revolutionaries in Northern Nicaragua. The truth is that the Police just don’t have the manpower or firepower to prevent the Cartels from operating in the nation’s secluded wilderness. Corporate influence is somewhat hedged in Costa Rica, although many financial institutions make a home here. Large scale utility businesses are kept from running the country, as state agencies hold monopolies on many important things such as Power and Water.

Corporate and State Businesses have begun expanding operations along the South Border, clearing areas of rainforest that are not protected and undergoing large construction projects. Some complaints have begun from their Southern neighbor of Panama that the Costa Ricans are actually trying to destroy their wilderness for resources, since so much of their own is off limits. There are reports of foreign logging businesses routinely crossing borders for clear-cutting and hauling them back to camps in Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica, there are mostly coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which four are major volcanoes. Of the four, two of them active, rise near the capital of San Jose in the center of the country; one of the volcanoes, Irazu, erupted destructively in 1963-65 and geologists fear another eruption is due soon. There are several other disaster issues: occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season and landslides; active volcanoes. The climate is tropical and subtropical; with a dry season (December to April) and a rainy season (May to November). It is cooler in the highlands.

Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.1% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity. Over 30% of Costa Rica is considered part of a protected wilderness area making it a beautiful country. The areas considered protected were increased throughout the SouthAm war as a push by Eco-minded groups from the U.S. and Europe who worried about the beautiful country’s lush jungle life being decimated in the fighting of the region. Even now, as pressures increase and deforestation occurs, Eco-groups push for expanding protected regions (although now some have ulterior motives, resulting from funding being given by Cartel leaders and similar investors interested in keeping up the criminal activity taking place under the jungle canopy).

Costa Ricans often refer to themselves as tico (masculine) or tica (feminine). "Tico" comes from the popular local usage of "tico" and "tica" as diminutive suffixes (e.g., "momentico" instead of "momentito"). The tico ideal is that of a very friendly, helpful, laid back, unhurried, educated and environmentally aware people. Visitors from the United States are often referred to as gringos, which is virtually always congenial in nature. The phrase 'Pura Vida" (literally "Pure Life") is a ubiquitous motto in Costa Rica. It encapsulates the pervading ideology of living in peace in a calm, unclustered manner, appreciating a life surrounded by nature and family and friends. Some might use maje or mae (maje means "guy/dude") to refer to each other, although this might be perceived as slightly insulting to those of an older generation. Costa Rican traditions and culture tend to retain a strong degree of Spanish influence. Their spoken accent is rather different than its Central American counterparts. "-ito" or "-ita" are added to many words to make them sound more polite and courteous.

Costa Rica boasts a varied history, it was the point where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures met. The northwest of the country, the Nicoya peninsula, was the southernmost point of Nahuatl cultural influence when the Spanish conquerors (conquistadores) came in the sixteenth century. The center and southern portions of the country had Chibcha influences. However, the indigenous people have influenced modern Costa Rican culture to a relatively small degree, as most of the Indians died from disease and mistreatment by the Spaniards.  The Atlantic coast, meanwhile, was populated with African workers during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Most Caribbean Costa Ricans of African descent, however, derive from nineteenth-century Jamaican workers, brought in to work on the construction of railroads between the urban populations of the Central Plateau and the port of Limon on the Caribbean coast. Italian and Chinese immigrants also arrived at this time to work on the railroad construction.

Though the music of Costa Rica has achieved little international credit, Costa Rican popular music genres include: an indigenous calypso scene which is distinct from the more widely-known Trinidadian calypso sound audience that supports nightclubs in cities like San José. American and British rock and roll and pop are popular and common among the youth (especially urban youth) while dance-oriented genres like soca, salsa, merengue, cumbia and Tex-Mex have an appeal among the somewhat older audience.

Recently Nicaraguan Immigrants have entered the country, looking for work and fleeing political attacks, making up about 25% of the country’s low-income work force. Many of these refugees are supposed to officially sign and apply for work papers, which only allow for a chance at citizenship as long as they remain a useful working member of society. This is not always the case and many illegals move over the borders freely into and out of the country. Their influx into society has created many ghettoes in larger cities where Nicaraguan culture is more prevalent and accepted.

(Written by Joe "Citizen X" Klemann: Some Information is taken from the CIA Worldfactbook, Wikipedia, and Geographia.com .)