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Understanding the Cantons of Costa Rica


Like most countries, Costa Rica is divided into different jurisdictions. The country is made up of seven different provinces, which all have their own cantons. Costa Rica has 81 cantons, which are .


Canton Responsibilities


Canton governments have a number of responsibilities, which include the following:


Overseeing Health Care Systems


Costa Rica , which is the highest in Latin America.


Primary schools are managed at the local level, so local communities deserve credit for the exceptional education young Costa Ricans receive. San Jose and most other large communities have multiple schools for younger children.


Political Structure of Cantons


Costa Rica has been transferring political power from the federal government to local governing bodies. The structure of cantons has changed as they play a more prominent role in the political process.


Here are some of the changes Costa Rica has made in this area over the last couple of decades.


The Beginning of Municipal Elections


Costa Rica is a democratic republic and operates very similarly to the United States. However, there are significant differences in the way both local and national elections are conducted. Here are some of the biggest differences:



Municipal elections are playing a much more important role, because the government is becoming more decentralized. Unfortunately, turnout for local elections has been very poor, and has forced both national and local leaders to look for solutions.


Mariano Jiménez, a popular political scientist, tweeted that holding held earlier this year.


President Solis acknowledged the need to strengthen the local government system, but admitted that neither he nor other Costa Rican politicians understood the changes they needed to implement.


Because Jamaica enjoys a strong local government, Costa Rica reached out to Jamaican Prime Minister Simpson Miller for assistance. The Jamaica Observer recently .


Law Enforcement


Unlike the United States, most law enforcement isn’t handled at the local level. Cantons are responsible for working with various law enforcement officials to ensure laws are enforced. Various law enforcement agencies .

  • Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad (DIS). DIS is a national intelligence agency, which functions like the FBI. They coordinate with Interpol and closely monitor subjects of high-level crimes.


  • While the federal government still retains most law enforcement authority, some cantons have started establishing their own police departments. This will probably be more common in the future, since Costa Rica is transitioning to a less centralized government.


    What do you think about how the cantons are set up? Do you think it’s a better system than in the U.S.? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below: