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In 1502, Columbus stopped near present-day Limón, Costa Rica. [with] gold and mines." Subsequent chroniclers called the region "Costa Rica"—Rich Coast—although it turned out to be among the poorest of Spain's colonies.Natives with "golden mirrors around their necks" told of "many places . Costa Ricans are called ticos, which derives from their appending the Spanish -ico diminutive to the standard -ito. Costa Rica is located in Central America with Nicaragua to its north and Panama to its south.Despite the influential Catholic Church's opposition to contraception, in 1990, 86 percent of sexually active women of childbearing age used birth control. Spanish is the official language, but the variant spoken has features particular to Costa Rica.On the Atlantic coast, however, descendants of Caribbean immigrants speak English, as do many others throughout the country who learned it to better their employment prospects. The national flag, a partial imitation of the French tricolor, consists of blue horizontal stripes on the top and bottom of the flag and two white inner stripes divided by a wide red stripe, which contains the national coat of arms to the left of center.The northern Pacific suffers frequent droughts, associated with the Niño phenomenon. Pacific ports include Puntarenas, Quepos, and Golfito.Two modern ports, Caldera and Punta Morales, were built near Puntarenas in the 1980s.

In Guanacaste and northern Puntarenas, much of the population is descended from Indians and colonial-era slaves.The Atlantic zone receives trade winds and has high rainfall year-round.The Pacific zone has fertile volcanic and alluvial soils and distinct wet and dry seasons.On the Atlantic side of the Talamanca mountains, the Bribri and Cabécar—the largest indigenous groups—speak related languages and share a culture that varies only slightly from one locality to another, depending on the degree of contact with Hispanic society.They maintain clan marriage rules, collective agricultural production, and a religion centered around the deity Sibö the Creator.

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