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Costa Rica - Coat of Arms

Last modified: 2021-08-25 by rob raeside
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image by Jaume Ollé and Antonio Martins, 5 November 2001
(For the former 5-stars version produced by Fred Drews, click here)

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Coat of arms

Costa Rica coat of arms has REPUBLICA DE COSTA RICA in a scroll in chief of the shield and AMERICA CENTRAL in a circular scroll above the shield.
Ivan Sache, 11 September 1999

From <>:
"National Seal
- It was created in 1848, under the presidency of Jose Maria Castro Madriz. The original seal went through two important changes. In 1906, war symbols were removed as a response to Costa Rican's tradition for peace. Another change occurred in 1964, when two more stars were added as to represent the newly incorporated provinces. Today, the national seal shows seven stars, one for each province, three volcanoes representing the country's three mountain ranges, and two merchant ships. There is a rising sun at the horizon between the blue sky and the blue ocean."
Dov Gutterman, 17 November 1998

Rabbow, in DTV-Lexicon politischer Symbole, 1970, states: 'Till 23 Oct 1964 there were five stars, reminding of the five Central American countries. The number changed to seven to represent the seven provinces of Costa Rica.'
In fact the 5 stars stood for the five member-states of the United States of Central America, after Honduras withdrew from it in 1838. The union was dissolved in 1839, but the union-flag and coat of arms still plays an important role in these countries. So the 5 stars were for: Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Source: Kannik, Vlaggen, Standaarden en Wapens, c. 1959
Jarig Bakker, 20 March 2001

When president Jose Maria Castro Madriz adopted the coat of arms of Costa Rica (29, September, 1848), there were 5 provinces. Other two were added in the end of XIX c. The state of Panama was created in 1903, but the Costa Rican coat of arms created in 1848. I think 5 stars means - 5 provinces of 1848 and 5 countries: Costa Rica, HONDURAS, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Victor Lomantsov, 20 March 2001

Panama was never part of Central America. The five stars stood for the members of the United Provinces of Central America, which were Costa Rica, (El)Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua. Panama was a part of Columbia.
One of many sources: Kannik, Das farbige Flaggenlexikon, 1958 (German edition of Alverdens Flag i Fraver, 1956).
Ralf Stelter, 21 March 2001

According to what I read, the symbolism of the five stars was forgotten for many years. Puntarenas and Limon were created provinces in 7 July 1909 and before they were not provinces but regions (level a bit lower that province). In 1909 the meaning of stars was fully forgotten and when arms were slightly modifies in 13 June 1934, the five stars remained unchanged. only in 1964 two stars were added.
Jaume Ollé, 22 March 2001

At Album 2000 [pay00]: Coat of Arms - Figure provides detail from the state flag - the coat of arms together with the white oval in background. There are some differences from the image posted by Jaume, but these are rather minor, I guess.
Željko Heimer, 1 June 2001

image by Roman Klimes and Rob Raeside, 07 October 2013

I am enclosing for you scans of interesting article from Bulletin of Panamerican Union from the year 1909. You can see on color illustration, that ship was without flag (both ships were without flags).
The history and significance of the national banner and coat of arms of Costa Rica are described as follows by His Excellency, Señor Joaquín B. CALVO*:
It is unnecessary to state that the first flag that fluttered in Costa Rica was that of Spain, and that consequently her shield was that of the mother country: but it should he stated that later on she had her own shield, conceded to Cartago August 11, 1505. This shield was divided in two parts; the first contained a lion rampant, in a red field, with a crown at the head, and three bars sangre. and the lower part a golden castle in an azure field: and for the orle six black eagles in a field of argent, having for crest a large golden crown with the inscription "Fide et Pace."
After independence the first flag of Costa Rica was the Mexican, in virtue of her annexation to the Empire of Iturbide; but, as it appears, it was not hoisted, but placed under a load of tobacco dispatched to Nicaragua.
The first flag proper, white, with a red star in the center, was decreed May 1, 1823, and sworn to, June 8 of the same year.
Afterwards came the flag of the Central American Federation, composed of three horizontal stripes-two blue and a white one between. Still later, President CARRILLO, April 21, 1840, decreed that the flag should consist of three horizontal bands, the top and bottom white, and the center azure, upon which should be pictured the arms of the State, consisting of a radiant star, placed in the center of a celestial background, with the inscription at the circumference, " State of Costa Rica.'' Finally, upon the country assuming fullness of power, the flag which we have to-day was decreed.
It consists of five horizontal bars, the outer ones blue, the next white, and the central red and of double width.
The first shield, decreed May 13, 1828, was a star encircled: with the inscription, "Costa Rica Free." The second, decreed October 27, 1824, represented a circle of mountain chains and volcanoes, denoting the position and security of the country; and in the center an arm and the left half of a breast, indicating that it gives a heart to its brethren and maintains an arm in defense of its country.
The shield of Central America represented five volcanoes and at the left the rising sun; using also for the money an oak tree, bordered with the inscription, "Libre cresca fecunda " (free she may grow fruitful).
On September 28, 1848, were decreed the present arms and colors, and since then the shield has been composed of three volcanoes, joined and placed between two seas, with a ship at each side, showing that she has ports in both oceans, at the left, the sun rising, which denotes the youth of the Republic; at the top, five stars, representing the five provinces in which she is divided. Encircling the shield, three flags; on each side pikes, rifles, and branches of laurel; and at the bottom, a cannon and a horn of plenty for the riches of the country. In the upper part extends a scarf upon which is inscribed "America Central," and below, "Republic of Costa Rica," denoting that the latter is part of the former.
The last decree referred to in Señor CALVO's book has been amended by Section II of the Decree of the Constitutional Congress of Costa Rica, dated November 27, 1906, which reads as follows:
SEC. II. The coat of arms shall represent two volcanoes and an extensive valley between two oceans with a merchant ship sailing on each of them. On the extreme left of the line that marks the horizon a rising sun shall be represented. There shall be on the upper part of the shield two myrtle palms half covered and joined by a white wide ribbon containing the following inscription in golden letters: "República de Costa Rica." The field between the peaks of the volcanoes and the myrtle palms shall contain five stars of equal size and arranged like an arch. The crest of the shield shall be a blue ribbon interlaced in the shape of a crown and bearing in silver letters the inscription "America Central."

*The Republic of Costa Rica, by JOAQUIN B. CALVO, Minister of Costa Rica to the United States. Chicago and New York, 1890, pp. 40-42
Roman Klimes, 07 October 2013