What is Depicted in the Costa Rica Coat of Arms?
The Costa Rica coat of arms is an interesting piece of heraldry which appears in miniature form on the central red strip of the nation’s flag, as well as on stonework of official buildings, government documents, and the like. The coat of arms is an elegantly shaped shield with sweeping lines, surrounded by elaborate scrollwork and a motif of golden coffee beans, which are arranged in such a regular pattern that they resemble ears of maize more than coffee beans.
A green land mass extends horizontally through the middle of the coat of arms, with deep blue ocean waters depicted on both the nearer and farther side. Three volcanoes stand on this swath of green grass, while an old-style schooner sails towards the left-hand side of the shield on both bodies of water. A blue sky with the rising sun gleaming above the horizon forms the backdrop of the picture. Seven stars form a gentle arch above the mountaintops. Some modern renderings show wisps of smoke wafting up from the volcanoes’ crowns.
A white ribbon just above the shield bears the inscription “Republica de Costa Rica”, while a yet higher light blue ribbon states “America Central”.
What is the Meaning of the Costa Rica Coat of Arms’ Symbols?
Much of the symbolism of the Costa Rica coat of arms is quite straightforward. For example, the green land mass flanked by two oceans is the isthmus that houses the nation, with the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean on either side of it. The three volcanoes represent the three, largely volcanic, mountain ranges which traverse the country, though only four of the actual volcanoes are active and close to a hundred more are long extinct or at least inactive.
The two vessels depict Costa Rica’s maritime history, and the rising sun has obvious connotations for a newly founded republic (as the nation was when the coat of arms was first adopted). The seven stars are the seven states which make up this Central American republic, and the coffee beans in the enfolding scrollwork are the source of the country’s commerce prior to the rise of the banana.