The Costa Rican constitution of 1949 guarantees a host of rights for residents and foreigners alike. These rights include freedom of speech, press, and assembly, all of which are excercised on a daily basis and underline Costa Rica’s enviable place among its neighbors. Unlike many other Latin American nations, Costa Rica has no standing army, no guerrillas, and no poilitical prisoners. For more than half a century, power has changed hands peacefully and voter turnout has been high.
The country is a democratic republic that elects a new president every four years. Though the presidency is a powerful position, the constitution guards against concentration of power in any one of the three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial.