Costa Rica


Costa Rica Essay, Research Paper

Greg Coffta

Bio190/Costa Rican Adventures


Part I

Banana: Bananas were most likely picked up by the European traders in Southeast Asia when in search for spices. Soon, as the discovery of the Tropics arrived, traders took bananas to Central America.

Breadfruit: this fruit commonly grows among the southern Pacific islands, and it probably found its way to Costa Rica when the natives started to explore on boat.

Chocolate: as far as I could find, chocolate is native to Central America. It comes from the fruit of the Cacao Tree, and was traditionally used by the Aztecs.

Coconuts: Coconuts also come from Tropical Pacific islands, and the actual coconut itself probably floated across the ocean, only to land on the shores of Costa Rica.

Coffee: Coffee is speculated to have grown initially somewhere around Arabia. Its first recorded use was in 675 B.C., by the Red Sea. Most likely picked up along spice trading expeditions, the Europeans once again brought coffee to the Americas. Finding it grows well in that particular climate, the commercial cultivation began.

Mango: Another fruit Native to the eastern part of the world, traders such as Columbus and Vespucci also brought this to the Americas.

Papaya: During the slave trade, Slave traders often picked up some of the fruit from southern Africa. Possibly on accident, this fruit was spread to Central America and is now commercially grown.

Quinine: Being a Tropical country, Costa Rica had its problems with malaria. One of the drugs used to treat malaria was Quinine, derived from the South American Cinchona trees. Traded by natives throughout the region, Quinine was used as a natural remedy before Europeans discovered it.

Sugar Cane: Sugar cane is native to the Middle East, Kazakhstan and India, used by Europeans as a sweetening agent, it soon was commercially grown and exported from many of the newly discovered Tropical nations, most likely by slave labor.

Tomatoes: Indigenous to South America, the Tomatoes was once though by the Patagonians to be poisonous. After discovering they were not, it became a widely traded commodity throughout the world. Growing best is warm, humid regions of the earth with sandier soil, there is no doubt as to why tomatoes are cultivated in Costa Rica.

Material Sited From Includes: Encarta Interactive Encyclopedia 1998, and various Internet search engine results.


Arboreal: Of or living in the trees.

Biome: A major regional biotic community, such as a grassland or desert.

Biodiversity: each biome being different

Canopy: the uppermost layer in a forest

Carbon Cycle: only a certain amount of carbon is circulated throughout the environment, appears in many different forms.

Climax Community: An established ecosystem in which the area allows for the maximum animal occupation.

Community: A group of plants and animals living together in an area.

Consumer: a buyer of goods and services, or crops produced especially for consumption

Decomposer: any organism that breaks down organic matter into its basic elements.

Decomposition: the process of breaking organic matter down into its basic elements.

Ecology: the science of the relationship between organisms and their environments

Ecosystem: an ecological community together with its environment functions as a unit.

Epiphyte: a plant such as Spanish moss or a Tropical orchid living on an independent plant.

Erosion: washing away the topsoil of the region either by wind or water.

Ethnobotany: studying the relationship between a race of people and the plants they use.

Forest: a growth of trees, plants and underbrush that cover a large area, living symbiotically with other organisms.

Habitat: the area or environment in which an organism lives.

Hydrologic Cycle: only a certain amount of water is circulated throughout the environment, takes many different phases, very little water has been created or destroyed.

Leaching: water running off of the topsoil, carrying many different chemicals and sediment

Liana: vines

Litter: discarding waste products carelessly

Monoculture: the cultivation of a single crop in an area

Niche: an animal’s best-suited environment

Photosynthesis: the process carried out by a plant that turns sunlight and water into energy

Pollination Vector: pollen from plants being distributed throughout the environment by other living organisms

Producer: one who creates or produces something, consumer goods

Rain Forest: a dense evergreen forest usually in tropics with an annual rainfall of at least 2.5-m.

Sedimentation: settling of the sediments in a liquid, like soil in water.

Species: narrowest group, to which an organism can be classified, produces similar and fertile offspring.

Stratification: soil depositing in distinct layers.

Subsoil: layer of earth beneath the topsoil.

Primary Succession: a group of people following things in order.

Secondary Succession: subordinate things that follow Primary Succession.

Sustainability: the ability of an ecosystem to sustain itself, or preserve its existence.

Topsoil: the foremost and upper part of the soil.

Tropical Rain Forest: a forest lying in a Tropical region of the earth that is very dense, with high rainfall and humidity

Vine: a weak stemmed plant that derives its support from a solid surface.

Part III

The isthmus of Central America, formed by the tectonic movements of the plates of the earth, is the stretch of land between the Americas. When Pangea, the ultimate single continent started to fissure, the Americas were thought to be one unit. But by slowly moving apart, the two lands became increasingly more isolated, only connected by the thread of land called Central America.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing by 0.4 percent a year because of the use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. The slash-and-burn clearing of tropical forests has also been a contributing factor. Other gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect, such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons, are increasing even faster. The net effect of these increases could be a worldwide rise in average global temperature of 1.0 to 3.5 Celsius degrees (1.8 to 6.3 Fahrenheit degrees), with a best estimate of 2.0 Celsius degrees (3.6 Fahrenheit degrees), by 2100. Warming of this magnitude would alter climates throughout the world, affect crop production, and cause sea levels to rise significantly. If this happened, millions of people would be adversely affected by major flooding.

The Standing forest plays an essential role in filtering the rain fall, letting the water trickle down the leaves and branches of the trees and other plants found in the forest. The absence of the fauna in any forest is destructive in many ways. Erosion occurs when little or no plants exist to provide root support. Soon, the topsoil is washed away into nearby bodies of water, which is a pollutant to the aquatic life, putting many nitrogen and carbon compounds into the water.

Some examples of medically important rain forest plants are Quinine, Hemp, Laudanum, Aspirin, and Coconut Root. Quinine comes from cinchona trees and plants, and is used to treat malaria. Many native tribes used cannabis as mild anesthetic or pain reliever. Laudanum, an opium derivative, was used to treat severe pain, and used possible for its narcotic characteristics. Another pain reliever manufactured from the bark of willow trees is Aspirin. Natives used this to treat fever and mild pain. The form they used contained salicylic acid, which irritated the gastrointestinal tract to the extent of ulcers. This form also tasted even bitterer than the modern form. Coconut root is another form of a narcotic, Natives often make chew the root or make a tea from the root to relieve pain, and give a feeling of euphoria.

Material was solely taken from Encarta Interactive Encyclopedia 1998

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