Much of what Costa Rica is today is the result of two centuries of coffee production. Economic development, education, and culture were all radically transformed by the golden bean, and Costa Ricans have long considered their identities intertwined with the success of the industry. And now, the government has made the relationship official by declaring coffee the country's newest national symbol.
The country has an extensive list of national or patriotic symbols ("símbolos patrios"), defined by the government as follows:
The national symbols of Costa Rica are conceptualized as culturally created images that represent the country and evoke the perception and memory of these visual and non-visual representations.
If you've visited Costa Rica, you are probably familiar with many of our national symbols, such as the flag, the Guanacaste tree, the marimba, and the guaria morada, a type of orchid.
Others may surprise you:
Two of the previous national symbols are intimately connected to the coffee trade in Costa Rica. The ox cart , or carreta, was vital to the movement of coffee from plantations to ports in order to facilitate international trade before motorized transport. This, in turn, helped create the economic wealth and society that built our National Theater.
Many of us were surprised when coffee was declared a national symbol. Why? Because we assumed it already was one!
During our Mes de la Patria, or Homeland Month, schools, businesses, homes, and public institutions create displays of our national symbols to celebrate. Coffee plays a prominent role in these decorations, from loose beans and bags of coffee to cups and chorreadores.
It's only fitting that our informal association with coffee as a national symbol has now been officially recognized.