Called by some “the Switzerland of Central America,” Costa Rica is a beautiful nation sandwiched between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. This nation has two coastlines, with the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Caribbean on the east.
Costa Rica’s comparisons with Switzerland stem from the country’s rugged central mountains, its thriving tourism industry, relatively stable government and economy, low crime rate, and highly developed welfare system. In 1949 Costa Rica’s president abolished its military. Costa Rica still has no standing armed forces. The country has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the Western Hemisphere.
Spanish explorers were initially unsuccessful when they tried to colonize Costa Rica during the early 1500s because of local resistance, pirates, and unexpected environmental challenges. In 1563 they established the permanent settlement of Cartago in the central highlands. For the next 258 years Costa Rica was one of Spain’s many “new world” colonies in the Caribbean and Central and South America. In 1821 Costa Rica, along with several other colonies, jointly declared their independence. They formed a federation that lasted 17 years. In 1838 Costa Rica declared its unilateral independence, which it has maintained ever since.
Historically, Costa Rica’s rich natural resources and agricultural industry—predominantly coffee, bananas, beef, pineapple, and ornamental plants—have driven the country’s economy. While farming is still important to Costa Rica, a burgeoning tourist industry and technology manufacturing give this country a high standard of living. The country’s sandy beaches and tropical forests with immense flora and fauna draw crowds of tourists each year.
Adventists in Costa Rica
Spanish (official) and English
Roman Catholic, 70%; Protestant, 14%; other, 4%; none, 12%.
ADVENTIST TO POPULATION RATIO
*General Conference Office of Archives and Statistics, 145th Annual Statistical Report
Adventism first came to Costa Rica around the turn of the last century when pioneer missionary F. J. Hutchins made frequent visits to Limón on Costa Rica’s eastern coast in his missionary schooner, theHerald. The first regular missionaries, a group of literature evangelists, arrived in 1902. A year later one of them, I. G. Knight, reported 10 baptisms in the Review and Herald and the organization of a church of 26 in a town just outside Limón. By 1928 the Adventist Church consisted of four churches and 148 members.
In 1921 the first primary school opened its doors in Limón. Six years later a secondary school started, which later become Central American Adventist University. Today there are two secondary schools in Costa Rica, one in Limón and one in San José, in addition to the university. The church in Costa Rica continues to be strong. In the last 10 years the church’s membership has more than doubled.
Costa Rica is one of the many countries that make up the Inter-American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This division is hosting “Follow the Bible” this month. “Follow the Bible” is an initiative sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church around the world to stimulate a deeper interest in reading the Bible. The journey will climax at the opening session of the General Conference Session in Atlanta in June 2010.