Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/838

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482 COSTA RICA

JriEFUBLlCA DE CoSTA KlL'A.)

Constitution and Government.

The Republic of Costa Kica, an iiulcpcndeut State since the year 1821, and forming part from 1824 to 1829 of the Confederation of Central America, is governed under a Constitution first promulgated in 1870, but modified very frequently since that date. Practically there was no constitution, but only dictatorships, between 1870 and 1882. The legislative power is vested in a Chamber of Representatives — one rei^resentative to every 8, 000 inhabitants — chosen in electoral assemT)lies, the memliers of which are returned by the suffrage of all who are able to support themselves. There were 537 electors in 1889, and 26 deputies (32 in 1895). The members of the Chamber are elected for the term of four years, one-hali' retiring every two years. The executive authority is in the hands of a president, elected, in the same manner as the Congress, for the term of four years.

Prcsideyit of the Republic. — Rafael Yglesias, re-elected November 1897.

The administration normally is carried on, under the President, by four ministers — viz. of the Interior ; of Foreign Affairs, Education, Justice, and AVorship ; of Finance and Commerce ; and of War and ]\Iarinc.

Area and Population.

The area of the Republic is estimated at 23,000 English square miles divided into five provinces, San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, and Guana- caste ; and two coniarcas, Puntarenas, pait of the Pacific coast-line, and Limon, the whole of the Caril)bean coast. The lioundary with Colombia is in dispute ; the President of the French Rejnililic has accepted the office of arbitrator. The boundary with Nicaragua is also in dispute, and in July,

1896, a commission Avas appointed, with an arbitrator, nominated by the President of the United States, to decide points of diff'erence. According to the census of February 18, 1892, the population was 243,205 (122,480 males and 120,725 females), besides 19,456 (estimated) unenumerated, and about 3,500 aborigines. There were 6,289 foreigners, of whom 831 Avcre from Spain ; 622 from Italy ; 342 from Germany ; 246 from England ; 204 from the United States ; and 634 were British subjects frojn the "West Indies. The enumerated population gives on an average 10 "5 inhabitants to the square mile. In March, 1897, the population Avas put at 294,940, There were in

1897, 1,763 marriages, 13,012 births, and 9,925 deatlis! The average immi- gration since 1894 is stated to be about 1,000 annually. The population of European descent, many of them i)ure Spanish blood, dwell mostly around the capital, the city of San Jose (25,000), and in the towns of Alajuela, Carkigo, Heredia (6,047), Guanacaste, Puntarenas, and Limon (4000). The govern- ment encourages immigration by the sale of land on easy terms. In 1893 many concessions were made for colonising and agricultural purposes.

For the jmrpose of public health the country lias been divided into 21 districts, superintended l)y medical men paid by the national Treasury.

Eeligion and Instruction.

The Roman Catholic is the religion of the State, but there is entire religious libertj"^ under the Constitution. In 1892 there were in the Republic 2,245 Protestants, 35 Jews, and 224 Buddhists, &c. Education is compulsory and free. In 1897 there were 327 primary schools, with 21,913 pupils in at- tendance, besides five establishments for higher education. In 1896, 354,723 ])osos were devoted to education. I'ublic instruction in all its branches is ligidly enforced.