Costa Rica and Panama recorded the most urban growth, product modernization, and productive transformation of their economy in the Central American region.
More than 70% of all Costa Rican citizens live in urban cities, according to the latest State of the Region report.
In both countries between 2000 and 2013, urban growth was 13.4%.
The urban concentration of these countries sharply contrasts with neighboring countries, especially Guatemala, where only half of the population lives in the city.
The cities leading urban expansion in the isthmus are Panama City, which grew 16,000 hectares between 1975 and 2014, and San Jose, which in the same period increased 13,500 hectares.
The concentration of development and population growth in major cities has negative consequences, according to the State of the Region report.
“The concentration of a population entails problems, either by excessive pressures on ecosystems and natural resources or the overcoming of the operational limits of supply chains,” reads the report.
It seems like common sense that higher population levels in urban cities means more space is needed to house them, which means an expansion in urban city area. Costa Rica prides itself on its environmentally-friendly practices and small environmental footprint, but eventually, something has to be done to meet the demands of the growing urban population.
San Jose, Cartago, Heredia, and Alajuela have been presenting the negative symptoms of large cities in matters of development, housing, urbanization, industry, and commerce. They have grown uncontrolled and unregulated.
The mixing of different zones has dictated a time bomb in the ecological environment. Contamination is an every day issue in today’s news in Costa Rica and in the world, and is becoming more and more the concern of the political and civil society
This leaves us with the problem of contamination, not only by human waste, but more by chemical waste used in industrial factories. We have grown to believe water is an unlimited resource, which has caused uncontrolled contamination and a lack of concern in the use of water.
Another problem that relates to unchecked urban growth is overpopulation and traffic jams. These issues are apparent just walking down Avenida Central in San Jose. Very little has been done to mitigate these effects of urban growth.