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Economic Development of Central America Econ. 4200 - Spring 2004 – Dr. Taylor - page 141 / 153

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Costa Rica has had no military establishment since a brief civil war in 1948. Government officials have long boasted that they rule over a country that has more teachers than soldiers.

The aftermath of Central America's civil wars is still being felt. Although thousands of refugees returned to Nicaragua with the advent of peace, many thousands more remained in Costa Rica.

Economic malaise in Nicaragua combined with the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 sent thousands of economic migrants across the border into Costa Rica. "Ticos" are worried by the additional strain placed on government resources in a country where more than 80 percent of the population are covered by social-security programs, and approximately 60 percent are provided with pensions and medical benefits.

The economy has been under stress since 1994, and President Figueres was forced to reconsider many of his statist policies. While the export sector remained healthy, domestic industry languished and the internal debt ballooned.

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