Costa Rica: A Global Studies Handbook by Meg Tyler Mitchell Ph.D., Scott Pentzer Ph.D.

By Meg Tyler Mitchell Ph.D., Scott Pentzer Ph.D.

Costa Rica: a world stories guide deals readers an authoritative journey of a striking kingdom, tracing its ancient improvement from pre-Colombian population and Spanish colonization via emerging prosperity within the mid-19th century to present struggles to outline itself economically and politically.

Costa Rica combines narrative chapters at the nation's background and the present nation of its political, social, and cultural associations with alphabetically equipped entries overlaying vital humans, areas, and occasions in its improvement. all through, the authors, drawing on large study and their very own reports, spotlight the numerous methods Costa Rica isn't the same as its associates, in addition to the demanding situations the rustic faces within the twenty first century's globalized world.

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Transportation was always difficult and labor was always scarce. The Indian population declined disastrously, and there were never very many African slaves because they were very expensive and few Spaniards could afford to import them. Near the end of the 18th century, a period of profitable tobacco farming began in the Central Valley around the town of San José, which was briefly granted a monopoly on that product by officials in Guatemala. Sugarcane was also grown commercially, and at the beginning of the 19th century, a short boom arose in brazilwood and in mining.

Perhaps indigenous societies in Costa Rica failed to become more complex because social and political complexity was not necessary to maintain stability in that environment. It is certainly evident that complicated social and political organization was not a prerequisite for sophisticated artistic development. Although many tombs and archeological sites have been looted over the centuries—not to mention the objects that were stolen or destroyed during the Spanish conquest—many beautiful pieces of goldwork, carved jade, stone sculpture, and ceramics are still intact and attest to the skills of the pre-Hispanic artisans.

Society was characterized by a hierarchy linked through kinship and marriage relations and cemented by ties of exchange and reciprocity. Reciprocity within each clan and between the various clans was the principle that united indigenous society. Although society functioned communally, not everyone was equal; instead, an attempt was made to maintain equilibrium in social relationships. Every social relationship was a trade off: “Hoy por tí, mañana por mí”—today for you, tomorrow for me. The cacique, or chief, of each group organized the production and the exchange of various commodities within his group, and he appropriated any surplus to distribute to his superior cacique.

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