National Geographic : 1981 Jul
Nicaragua A junta dominated by the Sandinista National Liberation Front struggles to revive the war torn economy of Central America's largest country. After 18 months of strife that claimed at least 30,000 lives and left homeless a fifth of the nation's people, the Sandinistas ousted Gen. Anastasio Somoza Debayle. The new revolutionary government seized the dictator's 500 million-dollar empire, which held a fourth of Nicaragua's farmland. But only heavy foreign aid, including 50 million dollars from the U. S. last year, has postponed financial collapse. Many businessmen, who control 60 percent of the economy, fear the Cuban-influenced regime may still enact radical changes. AREA: 130,000 sq km (50,193 sq mi). POP.: 2,500,000. RELIGION: Roman Catholic. LANGUAGE: Spanish, English. ECONOMY: Export crops: coffee, cotton, meat. Industries: food processing, chemicals. Domestic consumption: corn, rice, beans. PCI: $660. Costa Rioa After nearly a century of democratic rule, with a relatively even distribution of wealth, Costa Rica spends 30 percent of its budget on education and next to nothing ^ on weapons. The country sheltered Sandinistas in 1979, but now takes a conservative neutrality. High oil bills and expensive social programs have slowed the economy, spurring labor troubles. AREA: 50,700 sq km (19,575 sq mi). POP.: 2,240,000. RELIGION: Roman Catholic. LANGUAGE: Spanish. ECONOMY: Export crops: coffee, bananas, beef, sugar. Industries: food processing, textiles, construction materials. Domestic consumption: corn, rice, poultry, livestock. PCI: $1,810. Panama The 1977 canal treaties-giving Panama full control of the canal by the year 2000 - defused an explosive issue, since many Central Americans Shave long resented the Canal Zone as a symbol of U. S. domination. The canal is the mainstay of the economy, attracting international trade, tourism, and finance. AREA: 77,082 sq km (29,762 sq mi). POP.: 1,830,000. RELIGION: Roman Catholic. LANGUAGE: Spanish, English, Indian languages. ECONOMY: Export crops: bananas, sugar, shrimp, coffee. Industries: shipping, food processing, oil transshipment. Domestic consumption: rice, corn, beans. PCI: $1,350. squito -If Gulf of ?aflama O KILOMETERS 0 STATUTE MILES DRAWNBYJOHNG. WEBERANDISKANDARBADAY COMPILEDBYHAROLDA. HANSON NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC ARTDIVISION TEXTBYPETERMILLER I . I . .