By Roger Dendinger

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Ticos are also very aware of their relative position in a world region beset with social and economic problems. They tend to credit their constitution and their generally astute political leaders for their relatively high standing in Latin America. A sense of national unity and a concern for social welfare also set the country apart. For example, Costa Rica has always invested heavily in social service guarantees for its citizens. Regardless of which political party is in control of the executive or legislative branches of government, this commitment remains high.

Creatures that are only now being discovered and studied by scientists, such as the poison dart, or poison arrow, frogs, are common in many parts of the equatorial forest. Costa Rica’s poison dart frogs produce some of the most powerful toxins in the animal kingdom; one species can even squirt a poisonous spray at potential predators! Other exotics include poison sea snakes and almost one hundred species of bats, one of which sports a two-foot wingspan and catches fish using sonar. Four types of coral snakes highlight Costa Rica’s gallery of toxic creatures.

The legislative branch is constitutionally designed to be strong, just as it is in the United States. The Legislative Assembly has the power to amend the president’s budget and to oversee government spending by appointing a comptroller general. S. Congress, the Assembly can override presidential decisions by a two-thirds majority vote. S. Congress. Legislators are thus powerful figures in the government. Known as diputados (deputies), they are elected to four-year terms, as is the president. A constitutional amendment, adopted in 1969, limits the president to one term in office, although an individual may serve again after one election cycle.

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