Costa Ricans - Settlements



Costa Rica's seven provinces are divided into cantones (townships), and the townships into districts. Each provincial capital is the largest city in the province. The townships' seats are smaller cities or towns in the central districts. The outlying districts had been more rural than urban; in the 1990s this pattern may be observed in the peripheral areas of the country, but it is uncommon in the Central Valley. Urbanization of the whole country has proceeded very rapidly. Even remote areas have electricity, piped water, bus service, telephones, and television. Some may even have computers in public facilities or in some homes. In rural areas as well as in urban ones, however, great differences in levels of income show in the homes and general life-style of the residents. In urbanized areas the neighborhoods are identified as barrios; in sparsely populated rural areas, the neighborhoods are called caseríos. The sense of community is associated more with these smaller units than with the larger towns or cities. San José dominates the rest of the country in politics, economic pursuits, and services. The city has grown haphazardly. Planning and zoning have not been very effective against crowded motor and pedestrian traffic, pollution, and constant razing and rebuilding. Most Ticos live in painted wooden or cement-block houses that have metal roofs and wood or tile floors. People prefer to own, rather than rent, their homes; a shortage of adequate housing is one of the problems addressed by government projects.


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