Costa Rica a Country of Contradictions

Before readers are left with the impression that things are perfect in paradise, that Costa Rica is the best of all worlds, let's examine some contradictions. Even though the Costa Rican government is totally committed to preserving the environment and tries to control illegal deforestation, it also permits foreign companies to bulldoze forests to plant more banana fields. The government puts large tracts of land into biological and wildlife reserves, forest reserves, national parks and Indian reservations-yet at the same time farmers and agribusiness cut down forests on private tracts at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world. The economy destroys in the name of progress while the government tries to preserve in the name of conservation. The growth of ecotourism in Costa Rica brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to enjoy the ecological wonderlands here, but these large numbers of visitors threaten to destroy the very ecological treasures that draw them.

Another problem, one which could become more serious as time passes and the population increases, is land ownership. Although the Costa Rican people are friendly, gentle and welcoming, they cannot help but harbor a certain amount of resentment as they see foreigners bid up the price of property until it is out of the locals' price range.

Visitors and foreign residents can do little to affect any changes in these situations, but they need be aware that problems do exist. The best they can do is try to minimize their impact upon the natural resources of the country. None of these problems have gotten completely out of hand, and solutions are constantly being sought by the Costa Rican government. But as is the way in any democracy, the going is slow and cumbersome. Just be aware that not everything is perfect in paradise-but it is still paradise!

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