Nationalism and the border dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica



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The purpose of this study was to investigate the factor of nationalism in an international dispute. The Nicaraguan- Costa Rican border dispute was chosen as the four countries involved in this affair represented a variety of ideological backgrounds. England and the United States were predominantly Protestant while Costa Rica and Nicaragua were almost totally Catholic. Politically, three systems were represented: England was a limited monarchy; the United States was a democracy; and Costa Rica and Nicaragua were ruled by dictators. Nationalism, however, was present in the actions and motives of all of the nations concerned, regardless of religious or political ideology or practice. Nicaragua and Costa Rica disputed about the boundary line between their two countries and the use of the waters of the San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua for many years before a settlement was reached. Attempts to settle the affair were fruitless until a treaty of limits was signed in 1858. Fourteen years later, however, the dispute began again and was not settled until 1900. However, Costa Rica’s rights regarding the construction of a canal through the San Juan River were not assured until 1924. During the years of this dispute, each nation was Intent upon obtaining what she wanted, rather than considering what would be equitable and just for all of the people concerned. [...]