72 Years Without Army

Costa Rica is the first country to have constitutionally abolished its army after the civil war of 1948. The abolition of military budgets has enabled this Latin American state to invest in education and health and thus improve the level of Costa Rican life. The security of the country is ensured by the national police (Fuerza Publica).

“It sounds like something off John Lennon’s wishlist on Imagine, but there are currently more than 20 countries in the world who have chosen to dispense with defence (or attacking) forces to bring peace and stability to their countries.”

Former President José Figueres Ferrer also known as Don Pepe abolished the armed forces in Costa Rica on Dec. 1, 1948 following the end of the civil war that brought him to power.

The issue under discussion dates back to the Civil War of 48, a conflict that was originated with the suspension of the presidential elections of that year. The war confronted the National Liberation Army (ELN in spanish), led by José Figueres Ferrer, and the ruling party. The ELN triumphed after 44 days and once the war was over, Figueres Ferrer decreed the immediate dissolution of the permanent army.

Don Pepe

The BBC cites a scientific article entitled “Goodbye to arms: the effects on the long-term development of the abolition of the Costa Rican army.” In this it is stated that, thanks to the permanent suspension of the army, Costa Rica grew an average of 2.28% annually, compared to a 1.42% projected in the same period in the scenario of having maintained the military forces.

There are other advantages, too. For example, Colombia spends 3.7 per cent and Guatemala 0.4 per cent of their GDP on their militarie whereas that money could be put to use elsewhere, in development, education, tourism, conservation.

Moreover, Costa Rica, for example, has set itself the ambitious target of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral country by 2021, but the most important outcome is that  there is a culture more inclined to civilian rule and peaceful conflict settlement.


So as you can see, Costa Rica is always looking forward to peace and peaceful solutions.

Today, there are 23 countries that have no active military force, including Costa Rica, Iceland, Panama, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and The Vatican.

Costa Rica also happens to be one of the happiest country on the planet –  perhaps related to its lack of a military.

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