COSTA RICA. Physiography, Political Divisims and Population.— Costa Rica, a re public of Central America, is bounded by Nica ragua, the Caribbean Sea, Panama and the Pacific Ocean; area about 22,000 square miles. The republic is divided into seven provinces and these are subdivided into cantones, and the cantones into districts. Each canton has a municipal organization elected by the people; but the political chiefs of the cantons and the governors of the provinces are appointed by the president of the republic. The provinces are San Jose, Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Linton. The mountains do not form a continuous chain, but are divided into two main groups, that of the northwest and that of the southeast, the former including the volcanoes Irani (11,200 feet), Turialba (11,000 feet), Barba (9,335 feet) and Poas (8,675 feet). Eruptions occurred in 1723, 1726, 1821, 1847, 1864 and 1866. The southeast ern or Talmanca group, in which there are no signs of recent volcanic activity the Buena Vista (10,800 feet), Chirripo Grande (11,850 feet) and Pico Blanco (9,650 feet). A transverse system, the Cordillera de Dota, below Cartago, renders communication between the northern and southern sections of the country exceedingly difficult. More than one half of the area of Costa Rica lies between 2,900 and 6,825 feet above the sea and is covered with virgin forests, the vegetation be ing so dense that it is almost impossible to penetrate the interior of these regions save by way of the rivers. From the coast to a height of 2,900 feet are tropical forests and savannas; above 6,800 or 6,900 feet, approxi mately, are the regions of oaks and chapar rales, extending up to 9,800 feet ; and subalpine or subandine flora characterize the regions be tween 9,800 feet and the tops of the highest mountains. The climate in general is healthful, fevers occurring only in regions of less than 150 feet but it varies greatly accord ing to altitude. The coast lands and regions below 3,000 feet have a high temperature, rang ing from 70° to 80° F., and in consequence a torrid climate. The temperate zone lies between 3,000 and 7,500 feet and is very healthful with a mean temperature of about 62° F. Winds blow continually and are a great cause of dis comfort in the dry season, December to May.
The annual rainfall averages about 100 inches. The tapir, deer, puma, jaguar, armadillo, iguana and many varieties of monkeys are found in the forests, a few species being peculiar to Costa Rica, while the rest belong as well to South or North America or both. Of avifauna there are 725 known species: of reptilia and batrachia over 130 species; and the species of fish are especially varied owing to the circumstance that those of the Pacific are almost wholly different from those of Carib bean waters. The flora is essentially tropical. There are mahogany, cedar, brazilwood, fistic oak and ebony in the forests. Coffee, bananas, maize and sugarcane are commonly cultivated. Rubber also is found.
On 31 Dec. 1915 the official estimated popula tion was given as follows: The population in 1826 was 61,846, and mainly by increase of the families whose an cestors came from Galicia or Catalonia before the date just mentioned, it had grown by 1915 to 430,701. In marked contrast with the other Central American states, Costa Rica's popula tion, in the larger towns of the uplands, is almost entirely white. Only 3,500 Indians re mained in 1916. The negroes (some 25,000 British West Indians) live near the coasts.
The obligation and atraditionalp policy of Costa Rica is to solve its own problems and to avoid complications with other countries. The frontier line with Colombia (Panama) was to a certain extent determined by the award of the President of the French Republic as arbitrator, 11 Sept. 1900. President Loubet's decision ex tended the Colombian frontier to Punta Car reta on the Caribbean coast, thus depriving Costa Rica of extensive territory to which she laid claim. But there is still contention between the interested countries in regard to the inter pretation of the terms of the award; and it is with this qualification that the estimate of area in the first paragraph is offered. Pre vious estimates have varied between 23,000 and 34,000 square miles. On 20 Jan. 1902, a ((Con vention of Peace and Obligatory was signed at the Port of Corinto, Nicaragua, by plenipotentiaries of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Salvador.