Blog 3: Muchas Preguntas

There are a lot of unique cultural aspects of Costa Rica that make it unique and different than cultural aspects in the United States. The creation of Costa Rica as a country has a unique history, as its independence from Spain was not what the entire country wanted, and the area itself had little identity beforehand. Once Guatemala declared independence from Spain for the entirety of Central America, Costa Rica was not sure whether this was what the entire country wanted. Because of this, a civil war broke out in 1838. By 1839, Costa Rica was officially its own country and needed to establish its cultural identity and reinforce its separation from Spain.

Why is coffee so important in Costa Rica?

One important aspect of Costa Rican culture is their production of coffee and its importance in their culture. Around 1840, the head of state at the time, Juan Mora Fernández, realized the importance of coffee in international trade following a visit to Argentina. He also knew that Costa Rica was the perfect climate in which to grow coffee. Because of this, Fernández wanted to encourage people to grow coffee, so he enacted a land reform policy which made it easy and inexpensive for people to obtain land to grow coffee on. This helped create a strong middle class and encourage trade with other nations. Coffee was considered a door to make the country a better place and it got many citizens out of poverty. Also, it gave the country a reputation for producing excellent coffee. Coffee is so important to Ticos that a coffee plant surrounds the country’s seal. In my opinion, coffee is very important to life here in Costa Rica, and Juan Fernández certainly started the production of coffee on a large scale. Despite its importance in the culture of Costa Rica, it no longer plays as large of a role on the nation’s GDP, as electronics and ecotourism are contributing more.

Why does Costa Rica Place such a large importance on sustainability?

As mentioned in the first blog, Costa Rica is ranked 2nd in the world for sustainability, however, sustainability and agriculture do not always go hand in hand. Costa Rica has set aside a large portion of their land to be protected in the form of nature reserves, even though they could be using it for agriculture, therefore making more money. In addition, the government has invested large amounts of money on clean energy and the commitment to become one of the first carbon neutral countries. Costa Rica could easily use this money elsewhere, but why do they continue to focus on sustainability? One reason is because their economy so heavily depends on a healthy environment. For example, if deforestation continued rapidly, there would be no rainforests or unique animals that bring millions of tourists to the country. Also, crops such as pineapple and coffee, require a healthy environment to flourish. In addition, countries like China pay Costa Rica to offset their carbon footprint by protecting the environment in Costa Rica, so other countries can pollute more. Essentially, Costa Rica’s economy revolves around a sustainable environment, and the government realizes this. In my opinion, it is amazing that the government is attempting to preserve the country, because it is a beautiful and unique place. However, despite Costa Rica’s commitment to sustainability, it seems a lot still needs to be done to fully protect the environment. After asking a professor at La Universidad de Latina about their commitment to sustainability, he discussed a few issues with the way the government handles the environment. He mentioned the large problem of littering around the cities, and the fact that many crops were still being polluted, such as pineapples. Overall, Costa Rica’s commitment to sustainability is a very good thing, however it is not perfect.

Why are Americans so welcomed in Costa Rica?

In general, Americans or ‘gringos’ are very welcome in the country, for several reasons. With regards to foreign policy, the United States and Costa Rica have gotten along very well with only one minor conflict in the history of both countries. This conflict occurred in 1856 when the United States tried to influence an election, however the United States was forced out by the Costa Rican government. In 1948, the president of Costa Rica at the time, José Figueres Ferrer, outlawed the communist party which greatly pleased the United States, who were on a campaign to defeated communism. In the 1980s, when Costa Rica was in a large amount of debt following an international oil crisis, the United States paid Costa Rica around 1 million dollars per day in exchange for the use of Costa Rican land to invade Nicaragua and defeat the Sandinistas. Lastly, Costa Rica and the United States are strong trading partners, as both are a part of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). In my own experiences, Costa Ricans are definitely very friendly towards Americans. The positive relations and mutual benefits certainly are the reason why Americans are so welcome here.

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