The majority of Costa Rica’s population lives in the central highlands, where the capital, San José, is located. 73 percent of Costa Rica’s population live in cities.
According to Countryaah data, Costa Rica has Central America’s most homogeneous population with just under 90 percent of pure European origin and only 7 percent of Mestiz. An English-speaking black minority lives in the banana district on the Caribbean coast, where they were imported by United Fruit Co. at the beginning of the 20th century. The thousands of Indians (mainly Chibcha people like bribrí and cabecar) who remain live scattered in remote mountain areas.
Homogeneity is also reflected in religion, culture and living standards. Catholic values characterize society and family; so include Easter week processions to the highlights of the year. Recently, however, North American influence has increased significantly.
According to thesciencetutor, the official language in Costa Rica, Spanish, is spoken as the mother tongue by the overwhelming majority. An English-based Creole language is used on the Caribbean coast (1-2%), while speakers of various Chibcha languages (in the southern part of the country) make up about 0.5% of the population.
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During the colonial church, Native American religions were exterminated. After independence in 1821, the Catholic Church lost its privileges. Methodists, Lutherans, and Baptists came in the 19th century, as did the men’s Hutism that came to the Atlantic coast, where there are Afro-Indian religious traditions. About 90% of the population are Catholics. Ecumenical cooperation is aimed at poverty. Evangelical groups are growing the most.
The economic scenario showed renewed vitality in the early nineties after the country had gone through a period of stagnation and uncertainty in the previous decade, mainly connected to its strong dependence on international markets, in particular on the United States. The containment of inflation appeared to be significant among the signs of recovery.
The economic growth, however, has not recorded a very consistent pattern: thus the increase in GDP, which in 1992 was, in relative terms, of 7, 2 % over the previous year, fell to 6 % in 1993, at 3, 5 % in 1994 and in 1995, to precipitate a – 0, 7 % in 1996 and return to positive in 1997 (3.2%). This situation, despite the government’s austerity policy and cuts in public spending, has not yet substantially improved today: it is holding back any economic revival, excessive public and foreign debt, which at the end of 1996 had reached the figure of 3454 million dollars.
The distribution of the working population (39 % of the total in 1996) by sector of economic activity in recent years has shown a decline of the primary in favor of the other two sectors: services currently absorb 54, 3 % of the total and the industry the 23.9 %. Agriculture is linked to export crops, Costa Rica being the ninth world producer of bananas, as well as a significant producer of coffee (a sector that has been contracting for some years due to the fall in prices on international markets), and cocoa (cultivated on the Atlantic coast); cattle breeding and the exploitation of forest resources are also noteworthy.
A substantial contribution to the economy comes from the tourism sector (805. 300 appearances in 1997), whose recent development was also made possible by the established political stability of Costa Rica, a unique example of a long democratic tradition of the country, and demilitarized, of ‘Central America.
In the face of many indicators that place Costa Rica close to developed countries, such as high life expectancy, access to education (primary education is guaranteed to 97 % of children) and sanitation services and others already mentioned, the country still presents contradictions and disharmonies, as shown by the not negligible percentage of families living in poverty (about one sixth of the total). Notable enclaves of backwardness persist along the southern Pacific coast as well as along the Atlantic coast. Other difficulties arise from the presence of large numbers of refugees from Nicaragua (in 1992 stood at 113. 000unit). An unsolved problem is then that of the substantial marginalization of indigenous populations, even if it is a small minority compared to the dominant white population. No less crucial is the side of environmental emergencies, represented above all by the degradation and erosion of soils, agricultural and otherwise, phenomena linked in particular to the abuse of chemical substances in plantations as well as to the excessive exploitation of forest resources of which the country is rich.
Although about one third of the national territory is still covered by humid tropical forests, the deforestation rate is high and worrying. The forest area has consistently decreased since 1970 (from 52 % to 32 % of the total area) and continues to shrink. The deforested areas are largely destined to pastures, which in fact can be estimated to have increased from 25 % of the territorial surface to 46 %. Deforestation is a serious and common problem in much of Central America, certainly indirectly related to population growth. However, in Costa Rica there are about thirty national protected areas, which covered 12, 8 % of the surface in 1994, which is an already high ratio compared to many other Latin American states.
In the last decade, various programs for the conservation and enhancement of environmental resources have been launched and about one fifth of the territory is protected thanks to the establishment or expansion of natural parks which, moreover, represent one of the main tourist resources in the country.