The Pura Vida of Costa Rica


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The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica

by Mavis Hiltunen Biesanz, Richard Biesanz, Karen Zubris Biesanz

Costa Rica is unique among Latin American cultures. Ticos, as Costa Ricans call themselves, have a higher standard of living than their neighbors, with a higher literacy rate, a well-developed social security system, widespread access to electrical power, and a traditional system of education.  Much more than a land of coffee and bananas, Costa Rica boasts more teachers than soldiers.  It has even abolished its army. This book is divided into 11 chapters covering history, government and politics, the economy, the family, education, and religion. The authors draw on their experiences in the country, interviews with people from all walks of Costa Rican life, and secondary sources. The result is a solid monograph on Costa Rica that points out the contradictions in its perception by the rest of the world. The conclusions dwell on Costa Ricans’ distrust of changes that await the country in future decades. Recommended for academic libraries and public libraries that collect the history and culture of our neighbors to the South.

From Library Journal, Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., AL  Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion

by Barbara Ras

Journey into the Costa Rican imagination through twenty-six remarkable stories, selected and organized regionally for the curious traveler. Here, for the first time in English, the best of Costa Rica’s writers conjure the country’s allure and vitality, its coffee fields and palm groves, cicadas and songbirds, shrouded mountains and blazing savannas, while telling stories unique to Costa Rican life. Contributors include Alfredo Aguilar, Fernando Durán Ayanegui, Alfonso Chase, Quince Duncan, Fabián Dobles, Louis Ducoudray, Carlos Luis Fallas, Mario Gonzáles Feo, Joaquín Gutiérrez, Carlos Salazar Herrera, Max Jiménez, Carmen Lyra, Carmen Naranjo, Yolanda Oreamuno, Abel Pacheco, Julieta Pinto, Uriel Quesada, Samuel Rovinski, José León Sánchez, and Rima de Vallbona.



The Quetzel and the Macaw: The Story of Costa Rica’s National Parks

by David Rains Wallace

Costa Rica’s attempts over the last two decades to conserve its rich mix of natural resources have won praise from international organizations and support from the majority of Costa Rican people. A vital linchpin of that determined effort has been the establishment of numerous national parks. This book is neither a travelog nor an exposition of the flora and fauna of the region but concentrates on a major tension faced by all countries: How do you use finite natural resources to provide material well-being to an increasing population without destroying those same resources in the process? Costa Rica’s ongoing struggle with this “sustainable development” issue has significance far beyond its borders. Unfortunately, the book is flawed by its lack of an organizing principle–for numerous pages the focus is one or another of the important players; then the text suddenly shifts to a discussion of problems of a specific park; then another shift, to governmental policy planning; and so on. With this caveat, recommended for purchase by academic libraries and institutions with environmental policy programs.

From Library Journal:  Ruth M. Mara, Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C.  Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.


The Costa Rica Reader: History, Culture, Politics

by Steven Palmer and Ivan Molina

Long characterized as an exceptional country within Latin America, Costa Rica has been hailed as a democratic oasis in a continent scorched by dictatorship and revolution; the ecological mecca of a biosphere laid waste by deforestation and urban blight; and an egalitarian, middle-class society blissfully immune to the violent class and racial conflicts that have haunted the region. Arguing that conceptions of Costa Rica as a happy anomaly downplay its rich heritage and diverse population, The Costa Rica Reader brings together texts and artwork that reveal the complexity of the country’s past and present. It characterizes Costa Rica as a site of alternatives and possibilities that undermine stereotypes about the region’s history and challenge the idea that current dilemmas facing Latin America are inevitable or insoluble. This essential introduction to Costa Rica includes more than fifty texts related to the country’s history, culture, politics, and natural environment.  Most of these newspaper accounts, histories, petitions, memoirs, poems, and essays are written by Costa Ricans. Many appear here in English for the first time. The authors are men and women, young and old, scholars, farmers, workers, and activists. The Costa Rica Reader presents a panoply of voices: eloquent working-class raconteurs from San José’s poorest barrios, English-speaking Afro-Antilleans of the Limón province, Nicaraguan immigrants, factory workers, dissident members of the intelligentsia, and indigenous people struggling to preserve their culture. With more than forty images, the collection showcases sculptures, photographs, maps, cartoons, and fliers. From the time before the arrival of the Spanish, through the rise of the coffee plantations and the Civil War of 1948, up to participation in today’s globalized world, Costa Rica’s remarkable history comes alive. The Costa Rica Reader is a necessary resource for scholars, students, and travelers alike. 



Monkeys are Made of Chocolate: Exotic and Unseen Costa Rica

by Jack Ewing

Discover the mysterious and fascinating ways in which animals and plants—and people—interact with one another in the rainforests of Costa Rica. Author and naturalist Jack Ewing shares a wealth of observations and experiences, gathered from more than three decades of living in southwestern Costa Rica, home to some of the most prolific and diverse ecosystems on Earth. More than just a simple collection of essays, Monkeys are Made of Chocolate is a testament to the wonder of life in all its countless guises, as seen through the eyes of a man with a gift for subtle discernment and a natural flair for storytelling. 



The Birds of Costa Rica:  A Field Guide

by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean

“Graced with bounteous natural beauty, a stable democratic government, and friendly citizens, Costa Rica has become a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. Birds play a prominent role in attracting visitors, too. The shimmering quetzals, gaudy macaws, and comical toucans only begin to hint at the impressive avian diversity to be found throughout this small country.”—from the Introduction.

This is the one field guide the novice or experienced birder needs to identify birds in the field in the diverse habitats found in Costa Rica. It features descriptions and illustrations of more than 820 resident and neotropical migrant species found in Costa Rica, all in a compact, portable, user-friendly design. The detailed full-color illustrations show identifying features—including plumage differences among males, females, and juveniles—and views of birds in flight wherever pertinent.  Additional features of this all-new guide include: 166 original color plates depicting more than 820 species; Concise text that describes key field marks for positive identification, as well as habitat, behavior, and vocalizations; Range maps and texts arranged on opposing pages from illustrations for quick, easy reference; The most up-to-date bird list for Costa Rica; A visual guide to the anatomical features of birds with accompanying explanatory text; Quick reference to vultures and raptors in flight. 



Travellers’ Wildlife Guides Costa Rica

by Les Beletsky

Most travellers to Costa Rica want to experience its lush tropical forests and catch glimpses of exotic wildlife…Here is all the information you will need to find, identify and learn about Costa Rica’s magnificent wildlife…The Travellers’ Wildlife Guides are aimed at environmentally conscious travellers for whom some of the best parts of any trip are glimpses of wildlife in natural settings…Easy-to-carry, entertainingly written, beautifully illustrated-you will want to have this book as a constant companion on your journey.




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