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COSTA RICA - Pura Vida, Eco-Sustenability, Indigenous, Heritage

Costa Rica is a country that has been blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. Its unique location in Central America, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, has contributed to a diverse range of flora and fauna that thrives within its borders. Costa Rica's commitment to sustainable and ethical practices has allowed it to protect its natural resources and preserve its unique environment for generations to come.

The flora and fauna of Costa Rica is a true wonder. The country's terrain varies from dense rainforests to sandy beaches, with each habitat providing a home for a diverse range of species. The country boasts over 500,000 species of flora and fauna, including sloths, toucans, jaguars, and tapirs. Costa Rica is home to 10% of the world's butterfly species and over 900 species of birds.

Mariposa Espejito - Glasswing Butterfly
Mariposa Espejito - Glasswing Butterfly

The country's forests are a crucial component of its natural heritage. Over 25% of the land in Costa Rica is designated as a protected area, including national parks, reserves, and wildlife refuges. This commitment to conservation has allowed the country to become a haven for a variety of species. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, for example, is home to over 2,500 species of plants, 100 species of mammals, and over 400 species of birds.

However, Costa Rica's environmental success story goes beyond protecting its flora and fauna. The country has also become a pioneer in sustainable practices, especially in the tourism industry. The country has been recognised as a leader in ecotourism, a form of sustainable tourism that seeks to minimise the environmental impact of tourism. Eco-lodges, for example, are built to blend in with the natural surroundings, while tourists are encouraged to participate in conservation activities, such as reforestation projects or wildlife monitoring.

Costa Rica's environmentalism also extends to its farming practices. The country has committed to sustainable agriculture practices that minimise the use of chemicals and fertilisers, promoting biodiversity and soil health. These practices are not only good for the environment but also for the local economy. Costa Rican coffee, for example, is known worldwide for its quality and sustainability, thanks to the country's commitment to ethical farming practices.

The spiritual connection that Costa Ricans have with their environment is also worth mentioning. The country's indigenous people have a deep understanding and respect for the natural world.

The Boruca indigenous people have been practicing sustainable farming techniques for centuries, using a complex system of intercropping and agroforestry to protect the land and ensure food security. They have been able to maintain their traditional farming practices while adapting to modern techniques and technology.

The Boruca of Costa Rica are one of the country's most vibrant and culturally rich communities. They are located in the southern Pacific region of Costa Rica, in the canton of Buenos Aires, and are known for their unique traditions, crafts, and farming practices.

As indigenous tribes, they have a rich cultural heritage that is deeply rooted in their beliefs and customs. Their language, known as Boruca, is part of the Chibchan family and is still spoken by many of the community's elders. The Boruca people are known for their intricate masks, which are made from balsa wood and are used in their annual Danza de los Diablitos, or Dance of the Little Devils. This dance is a reenactment of the Boruca's fight against Spanish conquerors and is an important part of their cultural identity.

The Boruca people have faced many challenges over the years, including discrimination, poverty, and the loss of their land. However, they have worked hard to preserve their culture and traditions, and have recently gained recognition from the Costa Rican government. In 2015, the Boruca people were granted the right to self-governance, allowing them to make decisions about their own land and resources.

The Boruca people have also been successful in promoting tourism in their community. Visitors can learn about their traditions, participate in cultural activities, and purchase traditional crafts. The community has also established a number of eco-tourism projects, including hikes through their forests, river tours, and home-stays with local families.

Despite the challenges the Boruca people have faced, they have maintained a deep connection to their land and culture. Their commitment to sustainable farming practices, their unique crafts, and their rich cultural heritage make them a vital and important part of Costa Rica's national identity. The Boruca people are a shining example of how indigenous communities can maintain their traditions and contribute to the development of their country while preserving their natural resources and cultural heritage.

Photo credit Pam Capista  - Boruca Danza de los Diablitos
Photo credit Pam Capista - Boruca Danza de los Diablitos

The Bribri people, another indigenous group in Costa Rica, believe that nature is sacred, and have developed a deep spiritual connection with the natural world.

The Bribri people are one of the Indigenous groups that make up the cultural and spiritual heritage of Costa Rica. They live in the Talamanca region of the country, along the Caribbean coast, and have a unique and rich cultural history that spans back thousands of years. The Bribri people have a strong connection to the land and the natural world, which is central to their spiritual beliefs and way of life.

Their rich cultural heritage is deeply rooted in their spiritual beliefs. They believe that the natural world is sacred and that all living things are interconnected. This belief is reflected in their way of life, where they practice a sustainable and harmonious relationship with the environment. The Bribri people use medicinal plants and herbs to heal, and they have a deep knowledge of the natural world that has been passed down through generations.

These indigenous people have a complex spiritual system that involves a belief in a pantheon of deities. Their spiritual leaders are known as Awás, who are responsible for maintaining the balance between the natural world and human society. The Bribri people believe that the Awás have the ability to communicate with the spiritual realm and are therefore able to guide the community in their daily lives.

A deep respect for their ancestors and their cultural heritage characterise the Bribri people who have a rich tradition of storytelling, where they pass down their history and spiritual beliefs through oral tradition. They also have a strong connection to their art, reflecting their spiritual beliefs and close and sacred relationship with the natural world. The Bribri people are known for their intricate baskets, woven from palm leaves and dyed with natural pigments.

Like the Boruca, the Bribri indigenous have faced many challenges over the years, including discrimination, land loss, and poverty. However, they have equally worked hard to preserve their culture and traditions. They have been successful in promoting ecotourism in their community, where visitors can learn about their traditions and way of life, and participate in cultural activities.

The Bribri people's commitment to cultural and spiritual preservation is essential to their way of life with their vital and important part of Costa Rica's national identity, and their cultural and spiritual preservation as an essential part to the country's sustainable development. The Bribri people's history, traditions, and spiritual beliefs are a testament to the importance of preserving the cultural and spiritual heritage of Indigenous communities around the world.

Photo credit Lisa Paravisini, Repeating Islands - Bribri indigenous people
Photo credit Lisa Paravisini, Repeating Islands - Bribri indigenous people

Costa Rica's natural beauty is not only a source of wonder but also vividly represents the country's commitment to sustainability, ethics, and spirituality.

The country's success in protecting its flora and fauna, promoting sustainable practices, and preserving its cultural heritage is an example to follow for other nations around the world. Costa Rica's environmentalism is a reminder that a deep respect and understanding of the natural world can lead to a healthier, more prosperous, and fulfilling life for all.

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