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The most common questions about Costa Rica

The most common questions about Costa Rica

Do you have questions about Costa Rica? Here are the answers to the most frequent questions that our travelers ask us.

girls costa rica

WHY IS NO ARMY IN COSTA RICA?

The army in Costa Rica was abolished in 1949 by the new democratically elected president Jose “Pepe” Figueres. The election of Figueres follows the civil war known as “44 days” which caused 1000 deaths in 1948 following the non-recognition of Otilo Blanco. Figueres, head of the army, takes the helm of the country, organizes new democratic elections. He abolished the army and passed a new constitution. He will win the elections. Costa Rica is one of the 28 countries in the world that do not have an army (such as Monaco, Liechtenstein, Andorra, etc.), has a police force and has the indirect but sustained political support of the big brother North American and the international community.

TO WHAT EXTENT IS THE SPANISH COLONIZATION IN COSTA RICA?

San José Costa Rica

Costa Rica was discovered in 1502 by Christopher Columbus during his last trip to the Americas (“Oh what a rich coast,” he exclaimed). However, the Spanish colonial administration will not really settle in Costa Rica in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. It favors on the one hand the colonization of areas such as Mexico, Guatemala, Peru where large and rich civilizations already existed (Aztec, Mayan and Incas) to exploit the gold. The enslavement of these great civilizations has been relatively easy. For they were already in decline and they were organized in pyramidal hierarchy (it was enough to replace the head of the organization, cacique and indigenous priests, to enslave civilization). In addition to gold, Spanish colonization on the other hand was looking for sugar. She will do it in Cuba, where she will import black slaves from the West Indies. In this context, Costa Rica did not have a well-organized indigenous population (estimated at 400 000 pax, divided into clans and scattered tribes), nor gold, nor suitable ribs for cane plantations (a lot of mosquitos on the coast Caribbean). The region has always been considered a remote and wild province. The economic exploitation of the country only began in the 18th century with the development of a first export (general economic trend in Latin America) of coffee and bananas. Thus no cities nor Spanish colonial architecture as in other countries of Latin America.

WHERE ARE INDIGENOUS? ARE THEY ORIGINAL MAYA?

Bribris Costa Rica

The Costa Rican natives have 2 different origins: – the first ones, which were located in the north-west of the country (present-day guanacaste) that came from the north (Mexico) and were called Chorotega (the name comes from the former village they occupied in Mexico “Cholula3 or Chlouteca). They would have arrived around the 8th century due to the confrontation with the Olmecs. These more bellicose spread their territory and the Chorotegas have fled to the south and the rest of Central America.

The basis of their economic activity was maize (in addition to cocoa, cotton, tobacco and many other fruits). The rectangular houses were organized around a central square. The society is organized into 3 classes: priests and noble warriors, normal people and prisoners of war and slaves. This society is organized into clans. They practiced human sacrifices in their rites. – the second coming from the south and from Colombia, of Chibcha origin, settled in the Talamanca coordinate and the central valley. They were known for handling gold and other metals. They settled further north of Costa Rica to trade (Costa Rica being seen as a bridge between north-south migratory flows, considered less belligerent, they were nevertheless skilled in the art of warfare. women were also involved (such as “biritecas”, Boruca Indians, related to the Amazons), who were closely related to the indigenous communities of Chiriqui in Panama, whose houses had a conical base form, called “palenque”. Their work in ceramics was well organized and often strategically located at the confluence of two rivers (Guayabo), and the population moved north and the Atlantic. Today, the vast majority of indigenous communities have become acculturated and lost their languages ​​and traditions. Only the Maquenques to the north at Guatuso, the BriBris, the Borucas and the Diquis to the south on both sides of the Talamanca range live in isolated areas and have preserved certain customs and traditions.

WHAT YEAR WAS COSTA RICA INDEPENDENT AND IN WHAT CONTEXT?

In 1821, Costa Rica proclaimed a joint declaration of independence with four other provinces of Central America, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, Belize being British and Panama still belonging to present-day Colombia. Costa Rica is part of the time of the Augustinian empire of Augustine Iturbide, then of the United Provinces of the Americas (between 1823 and 1839). The capital was transferred from Cartago to San Jose in 1824, after a short civil war between supporters of the Mexican Empire, based in the former capital, and the nascent bourgeoisie in favor of the United Provinces, based in San José. Even though newly independent states form a federation, disputes over the delimitation of borders will be added to previous conflicts. For example, the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste, located in the north of the country, was annexed by Nicaragua. In 1838, when the Federation de facto ceased to function for a long time, Costa Rica officially withdrew from it by asserting its sovereignty.
(ref: Wikipedia).

WHEN DID CAFÉ CULTURE BEGIN IN COSTA RICA? AND NOW?

Coffee Costa Rica
RI

A short history of coffee in Costa Rica: it would be the English who introduced coffee to Costa Rica.

Costa Ricans did not immediately believe in the commercial aspect of the plant; they used it only as a decorative element in their patios. The years pass and a law obliges the Ticos to grow at least two coffee plants on their land …

As early as 1830, many fincas (coffee) were created mainly in the central valley, with the ideal climate from 1,200 meters above sea level and between 15 and 28 ° C. The coffee was transported to the port of PUNTARENAS in the famous ox carts with shimmering colors. The coffee becomes one of the first resources of the country. The Coffee Barons (Cafetaleros) built neoclassical buildings in San José at the time, including the National Theater *. Today there are some 80,000 coffee producers but more than 95 beneficiaries (treatment centers). The yield is the best in the world. Despite the collapse of prices in recent years, coffee ranks fourth in the economy behind tourism, bananas and pineapples.

* The Neoclassical National Theater was built (inaugurated in October 1897) through a tax on the export of coffee. We will notice a magnificent allegory on coffee, which is also on the ticket of 5 settlers (which is over).

From picking to your cup: from November to March * picking is done by hand in Costa Rica, unlike in other countries, the country produces exclusively top quality coffees (among the best in the world); only the perfectly mature fruits are picked. This method has the disadvantage, inter alia, of having to make several passes, the cherries of the same plant being not all ripe at the same time. After picking, the grains are separated from the pulp (pulping), this operation is carried out using a rotary drum machine (“pulping machine”). Once the grains are separated and washed, the drying can be done in the open air thanks to the sun’s rays or by industrial system, in big drums where hot air coming from wood-fired ovens is propelled there. . The grains are then roasted, that is to say burned (it is claimed that it was by chance that the benefits of roasted coffee were discovered after a fire in Africa burned wild coffee …) This operation, roasting, is fundamental in the quality of the drink. Great art …
This is the reason why the (school) summer holidays were decided around this period. The children used to be able to participate in the gathering work.

In Costa Rica: Grano de Oro, this is what coffee beans are called by Costa Ricans. Indeed, these golden grains have brought them wealth and therefore development. In general the cherry contains a double bean, but especially in Costa Rica, “kingdom of nature”, it happens that the cherry produces a unique seed, then called “caracoli”. Some roasters are looking for their customers who particularly appreciate coffee roasted exclusively with caracoli, which seems to exhale a unique aroma …

The scarcity leads to a price accordingly, although some fincas can produce up to 30%. The best altitude for coffee trees is between 1200 and 1800 m, the shrub grows particularly well in volcanic soils. The plant, although loving the heat does not like the direct sun, is the reason for its successful development in the Central Valley, where the sun is rarely very strong due to a significant cloud cover. Flowering in the Central Valley occurs 9 days after the first rainfall (March / April). “Cherries” ripen 8 to 10 months after flowering following altitude.

It sometimes happens, and only at high altitude, that coffee trees bloom 2 to 3 times a year. In Costa Rica, fruits (beans or cherries) are picked by hand. The country is an exception in Latin America, it is the only country following an agrarian reform to exploit this wealth by 33 000 small farmers. In recent years, organic farming has been increasingly practiced in the country. Costa Rica is ranked 10th in the world with 150,000 tonnes per year. In 2005 coffee brought home USD 300 million, the fourth largest source of income.

  • What is (also) done with the coffee tree: the roots of the coffee trees are torn off after 20 to 30 years to renew the plantation; this wood is very popular with restaurants and rotisseries, branches are also used to supply kitchens for plantation workers. After a composting process, the pulp is used from the fields to improve the soil structure. In recent years, attempts have been made to use pressed pulp as a fuel for coffee drying ovens.
    With the coffee trees, we also produce objects for tourists more or less decorative or useful as fancy paper, jewelry, giant pencils … Coffee liquor, confectionery of all kinds often combined with chocolate are all products derived from coffee.

 

  • The first cosmetics to use the coffee blossom were born in Costa Rica: “Fleur de café” is a line of cosmetics created in Costa Rica based on an original idea by Charlotte Robert. After extensive research, with international and Costa Rican specialists, Charlotte has developed for the first time in the world three products named “Mountain Blossom”: a eau de toilette, a body lotion and a mist, all scented with the delicate essence (similar to jasmine) of the coffee flower. These products are on sale in the “good shops” of souvenirs in Costa Rica, Libreria Internacional or by correspondence.

 

  • The benefits of coffee: (according to the Nation of 04 June 2005) Café rico para la salud! “Caffeine helps the body protect against colon cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease” A French researcher highlights the benefits of coffee for health. Eating coffee would delay the onset of Parkinson’s disease, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.
    Consumption of 3 to 4 cups a day decreases the probability of developing Parkinson’s disease by 2 to 5 times. This conclusion applies to men, since the study was conducted on 8000 men for 20 years. The protective molecule would be caffeine. For women, a study of postmenopausal women (this is the period in which Parkinson’s occurs most often) has shown that caffeine helps this part of the population, while it has a negative effect on women on hormone therapy, increasing the risk for this disease.
    These analyzes also highlighted the fact that moderate coffee consumption prevents type 2 diabetes and colon cancer, this time the benefits would be due to another molecule, polyphenols. Thus, coffee drinkers (little or not sweet) would reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 15 to 60%. By consuming about 4 cups a day, the risk of colon cancer would be reduced by 24%, polyphenols being antioxidants. Caffeine is present in coffee of course, but also in tea and chocolate. The Costa Rican consumes on average 4 kg of coffee / year.
    Unlike some preconceived ideas, coffee does not increase blood pressure, cause heart disease or gastritis. On the contrary, coffee contains substances against pain (especially migraines).

 

  • The main Arabica producing countries: 70% of world production is arabica (in thousands of tonnes)
    Brazil: 1,320 – Colombia: 450 – Mexico: 325 – Guatemala: 235 – Ethiopia: 210 … Nicaragua: 60
    Costa Rica: 150 is the 10th in the world, but the country ranks first for yield (900 kg per ha). The country exports 9 tenths of its production.

WHY TICOS ARE CALLED SO?

Les Ticos avaient et ont toujours l’habitude de terminer leurs mots par le suffixe “tico”, chuiquito petit garcon devient chiquitico petit petit garçon…

ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION IN COSTA RICA? NUCLEAR?

Costa Rica is almost self-sufficient in energy efficiency at 80%. Electricity generation: 80% hydroelectric, 12% geothermal, the rest is wind. There is no nuclear power.

WHEN HAS STARTED THE CREATION OF PROTECTED AREAS? WHY?

La géographie du Costa Rica est à l’origine d’une multiplicité d’écosystèmes, allant de la mangrove et de la forêt pluviale côtière aux prairies subalpines. L’isthme centre américain a, en effet, servi de pont entre les espèces vivantes d’Amérique du Nord et celles d’Amérique du Sud, favorisant ainsi le mélange des espèces selon des logiques complexes de filtres définis par les conditions locales climatiques et orographiques. Le Costa Rica, en dépit de son exiguïté, bénéficie d’une exceptionnelle biodiversité faunistique et floristique grâce à son appartenance à cet isthme centraméricain. Selon le rapport GEO (MINAE, 2003) : « le Costa Rica est un des 20 pays du monde qui compte une très grande diversité d’espèces exprimée en numéro total d’espèces par unité de ligne. En conséquence, il pourrait être le pays qui a la plus grande diversité d’espèces au monde, essentiellement grâce à sa position géographique entre l’Amérique du Nord  et l’Amérique du Sud. » Le Costa Rica abrite une avifaune exceptionnelle : plus de 2OO espèces d’oiseaux migrateurs venus d’Alaska ou d’Australie y hivernent et près de 850 espèces ont été recensées sur sol. On dénombre environ 237 espèces de mammifères et 361 espèces de reptiles et d’amphibiens. La biodiversité végétale est, elle aussi, très grande puisque plus de 10 000 espèces de plantes vasculaires (plantes vertes à tissus conducteurs) ont été inventoriées, et, chaque année, de nouvelles sont découvertes. A elles seules, les orchidées comptent quelques 1300 espèces.

Biodiversity at the center of concerns

However, before the 1980s, this faunistic and floristic richness is not yet appreciated at its fair value. The preservation of the environment is far from being a major concern. This biodiversity will first of all interest, during the 1880s, scientists and North American researchers attracted by this still preserved nature.

Despite the early ecological awareness of the government, it was particularly difficult to enforce the few regulations on the environment. The cause, the cultural practices then de rigueur in the country. The appearance of Costa Rica on the world economic scene in the second half of the 19th century relied on the local coffee industry. Then on the rapid growth of the banana industry. Thus, massive deforestation of the country began with the boom of agriculture. The share of the deforested territory goes from 36% in 1960 to 58% in 1977 to 68% in 1984 to reach, in 2000, 89% (Fournier, p 14). Even today, many farmers, ranchers and inhabitants live on logging. While some people practice slash-and-burn farming and burning wood, others are drawn to the economic benefits of logging.

The creation of SINAC

Thus, on the one hand, the State favored deforestation by allowing the settling of peasants on lands covered with natural forest and on the other, it sought to preserve the forest life, which translated, on the United States initiative, through the establishment of protected areas since the 1960s, the 1988 Biodiversity Act and the establishment in 1989 of the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), which has since become the Department of Environment and Energy.

However, in the face of the growing threat posed by deforestation, more than 27% of the territory has been developed for protection, 13% of which under the national park system, to safeguard the various biotopes and the fauna and flora. from the country.
Hitherto largely unknown, Costa Rica is not yet a source of interest, except for scientists. It was not until the 1980s and especially the year 1985 that the eyes turned to this small country in Central America.

Created in 1956, the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (CTI) – in charge of tourism promotion and development – thanks to the many public relations and destination promotion efforts undertaken in North America, widely disseminates the Costa image. Rica outside. ICT harvests the fruit of its work when, in the mid-1980s, the tropical nature is positioned as a determining parameter in the choice of many visitors and that it appears in the field of tourism through ecotourism.

Thus, with its stable political image, the growing presence of North American citizens and the existence of large protected natural areas, Costa Rica has all the assets to position itself in the ecotourism market. Costa Rica is easily converted to tourism, taking advantage of the growing global interest in tourism.

HOW MANY VOLCANS ARE IN COSTA RICA? HOW MUCH ARE ACTIVE?

Rincon de la Vieja Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, every mountain has been or is a volcano. There are more than 400 of which a hundred are identified, studied by OSVICORI (ICE).
There are 5 active volcanoes in Costa Rica (at 17/09/2014): Poas, Arenal, Rincón de la Vieja, Turrialba and Irazu. The Arenal volcano is slowly returning to sleep. It no longer emits lava flows since 2011. (It is not extinguished, however, according to specialists).

WHEN AND WHEN TO SEE TURTLES?

nesting turtles costa rica

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO SEE WHITENED WHALES?

whales osta rica

WHEN TO SEE THE QUETZAL RESPLENDISSANT?

You can observe it in the best conditions between March, May and June.

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