The Land & Its People
Costa Ricans, los Costarricenses, and Ticos are all names for a people who possess a distinct identity: they are unique to the isthmus; proud of their culture and traditions; appreciative of the extraordinary richness of their environment; steadfast in their religious convictions; and stalwart in their pursuit of social equality. Costa Rica is a peaceful nation, one that has essentially avoided the conflict and disorder that besets most Central American countries. And no factor has been more important in crafting its self-reliance, pacifism, and strong conservation ethic than Costa Rica's thoughtful and progressive people.
Boasting more teachers than policemen, more biological reserves than cities, and an undying dedication to social programs, Coast Rica is an extremely progressive nation. And this vision of civilization came earlier for Costa Rica than for many Western nations. With the establishment of free, tax-subsidized education as a constitutional right in 1869, the elimination of the death penalty in 1882, and the dissolution of the national army in 1948, it's clear that social development and order are key to Costa Rica's approach.
Costa Rica is truly a pacifist society. Since 1948, the country has avoided any military action, a formidable task considering the likes of Manuel Noriega of Panama, the Contras of Nicaragua, and the other malevolent entities who have tormented the area. The Tico strategy to conflict resolution is rooted in negotiation. They will use their humor, charisma, and even a disappearing act, anything to avoid letting a conflict get the better of them.
Costa Rica's populace consists largely of a huge working mass, from common laborers and farmers to specialized professionals. Ticos are predominantly direct descendants of Spanish colonists, the greatest immigration of whom came in the early 1800s to grow coffee. Originally consisting of a population of over 200,000, Costa Rica's indigenous people quickly approached survivalist status as they succumbed to the new diseases introduced by their oppressors. Today's remaining indigenous people are virtually unseen as many of them prefer to stay within the confines of their reserves. On the the Caribbean coast, African slaves and the indigenous natives had mixed as early as the 1500s, producing a people of darker completion and African features known as Moskitos. In addition, the past 150 years has seen the immigration of Chinese and Italians and, to a lesser degree, German, French, English and Lebanese.