Costa Rica has been actively developing since the start of the 19 th century. However, there have been many social, economic and environmental changes that have blemished its development. A very stable democracy, recent economic growth and a high standard of living has revealed that Costa Rica has achieved some development. Even though some development has already evolved, the question remains if it should strive for further development. In order to answer this question, the country's overall standard of living, increasing popularity of mass and eco-tourism and environmental issues will be evaluated allowing a conclusion to be made whether further development is a step in the right direction. To reveal a countries development it is necessary to first evaluate their standards of living.

At first sight the violence or poverty in Costa Rica may seem terrible. This is definitely understandable because of the way things appear from the streets; bars over windows, seven-foot high barbwire fences, prostitutes and the homeless out on the streets. This sight is deceiving. Costa Rica's overall standard of living and quality of life is among the highest in the western hemisphere even while Costa Rica's neighbors, El Salvador and Nicaragua, have been in constant uproar for years. Unlike other Central American countries Costa Rica is separated from the rest with their outstanding normalcy.

Some important points one would include when discussing Costa Rica is their friendliness, no standing army, and a proud history as Central America's most stable democracy. In Costa Rica violence of any kind within communities is extremely rare. "The law abiding Ticos respect and have faith in all of their laws" [Paul The rous, pg 3]. However, many Ticos of the new generation in Costa Rica are being heavily influenced from what is becoming a globalized culture of violence. Within families violence against women in Costa Rica has been seen as a major problem impacting children and family life in general. This issue is discussed because it can lead to violence within children outside of the home and in the community.

This one issue may not affect the countries development directly, but eventually something that may seem as 'small' as violence against women will eventually contribute into other forms of crime all over Costa Rica, resulting in developmental uncertainty: I. e. (Costa Rica has a lot of violence within small communities, could this mean that they are not developed? ). Crime in Costa Rica today is increasing and tourists are frequent victims.

Most of these crimes are non-violent, but juveniles in recent years have shown a greater tendency to use violence. Gender roles in Costa Rica are also clearly defined. "Machismo", or the natural superiority of men, is a belief followed by many Costa Rican men, whether they are married of not. It is said that many males have made this machismo into an art. This fact is clearly stating the equity between males and females is unstructured and undeveloped. Inequity also is a factor when the gap between the rich and the poor is discussed (I deleted what you had and forgot what it was so I made my own sentence up).

In 1995, the richest 20% of the population received 50% of total household income in the country, while the poorest 20% received only 4% of household income. "The per capita income of households in the richest quintile was more than 11. 8 times the income of the poorest portion of the population. This trend toward income concentration has continued at a steady pace, with equivalent consequences in terms of social and economic inequity." [ Juliana Martinez, Pg 18] Falling under standards of living comes eductaional systems and professions as well. Although Costa Rica invests more in social development than other Central American countries, there is still a tendency toward reduced opportunities in both education and employment. In Costa Rica, only one out of ten people who enter primary education complete secondary school successfully and afterwards have the option of going on to higher education.

On of the systems weaknesses are that if a teacher is sick or for some reason unable to teach the students do not go to school. On the other hand, compared to surrounding countries Costa Rica's Education system is the best and very reputable. There is also an extreme gap in quality that exists between public and private education systems. Secondary education suffers from high dropout and poor academic performance rates. In the workforce area, Costa Rica is not providing technology, electronics and medical firms with enough of the critically minded, English-speaking engineers and qualified technicians that the companies are clamoring for, according to preliminary results of a survey coordinated by the Coalition for Development Initiatives (C INDE). [Christopher Baker, Article 15].

The job opportunities in Costa Rica are usually based on pre-owned family businesses and agriculture. The majority of these jobs are labour intensive and the pay to North Americans would seem near nothing. 23, 034 jobs were cut in 2000. Open and hidden under-employment also rose, in particular among the female urban population. [ ] Despite a small increase in minimum wage in 1997, the low quality of available employment has resulted in a low average monthly income. Levels in poverty, which were earlier discussed, are directly related to poor schooling and informal employment.

Social issues such as quality of life, crime and healthcare should reach for further development, but also look in ways to improve problems leading towards primary developmental stages. This may mean to create a zero-tolerance program for violence within communities, or teach lessons in schools on discipline. As for healthcare, more money could be put into or even taken out of it, so it is equally available to anyone at anytime. These quite, struggling businesses that are only available to the rich are not only hurting themselves for money, but the patients who need it the most as well. These suggestions may seem improbable to a country that has been struggling in these areas, but everything has to start somewhere.

The World Health Report placed Costa Rica third in life expectancy in the world, following neatly behind Japan and France and ahead of Great Britain and Canada. Including a per capita income about one tenth that of the other four. Certainly, some reasons for this can be found in the Costa Rican less-than-frenetic lifestyle, the healthy, fresh, non-preservative laden foods of the country, the tropical climate -- Costa Rica seems to be a healthy place to live. But if one looks simply at the life issues, so are many other places on the globe. It is stated that Costa Rica is healthy place to live because its government continues a long-time commitment to affordable access to one of the finest health care systems in the world for each and every citizen.

Costa Rica's medical system was first in Latin America and ranked near the United States and Canada among the 20 best in the world. Nevertheless, because many people can't afford healthcare services with private doctors or specialists, their business is extremely slow. Today the healthcare is becoming less accessible because of its cost, despite its great reputation. Poor state of all of these public finances will definitely limit the country's ability to try to modernize and improve these problem areas. Tourism has definitely made a boom within the last 10 years. It is the world's fastest-growing destination for adventure, nature travel, and travelers of every other influence are visiting as well.

The resort industry is beginning to change as Costa Rica becomes more viewed and explored. Tourism today now earns more foreign exchange than bananas and coffee combined. Not just mass tourism but it recently been adopted by eco-tourists from around the world to see its beauty. Okay, so the point is, what are the affects of this continuous tourism epidemic? One is the economic growth of the country. It seems as though a country with lots of tourism may be developed because people are coming from afar to visit, so they want the best opportunities resources and facilities available. The nation's status as a "destination of the '90 s" is a benefit to the struggling economy.

In fact, the government is relying on tourism dollars to help pull the country out of debt. In Costa Rica they face many economical problems, which may or may not lead to the assumption they aren't developed. One is the balance of Costa Rican imports and exports. Costa Rica imports more goods then they export, meaning they are spending much more then they make.

Tourism is helping some, however, they have not yet maintained a balance of these imports and exports that many define economical development on. The tourism industry can be looked at in two different ways. Mass tourism, like big resorts and hotel chains for tourists and eco-tourism, where people from different countries come to enjoy the richness of Costa Rican land and the diversity of species. They are both supporting the economy, however, both can lead to little development, or none at all. For instance, if mass tourism started to decline, or even was brought to an end, sure it would help preserve the diverse forests and keep their culture, but not just the hotel chains are benefiting, other small businesses and shops are as well because tourists are supporting them. Eco-tourism is important because it educates people of all cultures and ages about history and the beauty of Costa Rica, as well as environmental concerns that will be discussed further on.

The economy in Costa Rica can easily be viewed at as stable, nonetheless concerns about it are rising as well. Costa Rica no longer produces enough food to sustain itself, and in result they are in a hefty debt. Highly efficient coffee and bananas industries, aided by high and stable world prices, have brought in enormous export earnings. Manufacturing has been growing rapidly under the protection of external tariffs and the expanding purchasing power of the domestic market. The major economic resources in Costa Rica are its fertile land and continuous rainfall, its well-educated population, and its location in the Central American neck of land, which pronto only provides excellent access to North and South American markets but direct ocean access to the European and Asian Continents. One-fourth of Costa Rica's land is committed to national forests, often adjoining picturesque beaches, which has made the country a popular destination for affluent retirees and eco-tourists.

Costa Rica has not yet discovered sources of fossil fuels not including some minor coal deposits, but its mountainous landscape and ample amounts of rainfall have allowed the construction of a dozen hydroelectric power plants, this makes Costa Rica self sufficient in all energy needs, except for oil transportation. These positive points are what make it seem hard to believe that Costa Rica should strive towards additional economic development. However unstable and undeveloped Costa Rica's economy was in the past, it has been improving and continues to make constant progress today. By the time you have finished reading this report approximately 32 hectares of the Worlds tropical rainforest will be destroyed. Costa Rica however has one of the best conservation records in the world, and about one quarter of its rainforests are protected and has been recognized and given awards for its conservation and environmental consciousness. As in any country, environmental impacts and issues are brought up when discussing economy of a country as well as social aspects.

Costa Rica's environmental concerns may however be more of an issue because of its diverse ecosystem. The government's answer to deforestation is to promote reforestation, this will be done through various tax breaks, which has now led to a series of tree farms predominantly planted in nonnative species such as teak. The government, for example, "has extended legal residency status to anyone participating in reforestation programs, with a required minimum nontaxable investment of US$50, 000." The government is taking many actions to help preserve both dry and rainforests. Regardless of the multiple efforts to replace the native hardwoods that have been destroyed or restoring the natural ecosystems, it is not a great action plan because it will take generations to bring back. Both Private and foreign agencies are becoming more and more active in the battle to preserve Costa Rica's natural heritage.

Another idea of land protection that has been discussed in the public eye in Costa Rica takes the needs of local communities into the picture by attempting to assimilate their income into the idea and day-to-day operation of the national park system. This idea is meant to give locals an interest by teaching them that they can earn a living by preserving natural resources rather than by destroying them. Seeing that much of Costa Rica has been stripped of its forests, the country has managed to protect a larger proportion of its land than any other country in the world, which is should be recognized when referring to environmental conservation. Conservation of forests ties into tourism and economics because tourism was seen as a way to make money while preserving the forests. Very smart. Now there are certain laws protecting the forest from the logging industries and from agricultural companies.

The people and businesses have found a way to make up the money lost from logging and agriculture and earn a great deal more by preserving the forests for tourism. In result, tourism Costa Rica's number one industry today. Deforestation environmental issues can be divided into two parts concerning development. If the forests are destroyed for industry, the economy can be looked at as being developed, because it is either promoting crop plantations or providing lumber.

On the other hand, it can be viewed as being non-developed because of the countries inability to sustain a rainforest and the species within it. The Ministry of the Atmosphere and Energy is the governing institution of the protected marine areas within the National System of Area of Conservation. Their mission is to promote, and coordinate the fishing sector in Costa Rica, in order to obtain conservation. Costa Rica's costal seas extend around country its self giving home to many marine species, as well as being a site for massive amounts of pollution. The conservation areas protect approximately 317, 165 hectares in marine areas, which reveals the efforts of conservation aimed at the marine field. Costa Rica continues to improve their conservation with different issues such as soil erosion, marine pollution, loss of animal habitat and more.

But the problem is in our rapidly changing economy today; money needs to be made, and people have to be satisfied. The government is doing a very good job at balancing the environmental concerns that need to be faced while considering the economic struggles. This is why it is still developing, but should not immediately strive toward further development at this time. Costa Rica has shown signs of little development, great development and even the process of developing. Each aspect that was touched upon seemed to have a different state of development.

Even though different issues contribute to the development of a country. In conclusion, Costa Rica should slowly head towards further development in the future. But striving at this point is not necessary. They are recovering from decades of economic and environmental confusion and distress, so a slow move towards development is a step in the right direction.