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Tourism is Costa Rica's number one industry. Last year, tourism brought in over 600 million dollars, which represents about 30% of Costa Rica's foreign earnings ("Re-evaluating" 21). Seventy-six percent of all tourists visit Costa Rica's National parks, and the number of tourists visiting annually is increasing each year (Burnie 25). Though revenues from tourism are increasing, many problems plague Costa Rica's environment, and inevitably the economy.
Costa Rica is currently rivaling Brazil for the highest deforestation rate (Frommer 24). Seventy-five years ago, three fourths of Costa Rica was covered by forest. Today, only twenty percent of the nation retains its original forest cover (Dreshner 23). Along with habitat destruction comes extinction. According to the World Reasources Institute's report, Costa Rica is home to thirteen endangered birds, nine endangered mammals, and two endangered reptiles. All of these animals are harmed by habitat loss, or the increase of foreign species that follow dramatic changes in the countryside (Rachoweiki 26). Deforestation also causes erosion, which turns clear waters brown with the addition of mud and silt. Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful rivers in the world. In fact, the Rio Pacuare is called by three rafting magazines, "The fifth most beautiful river in the world" (Buckner 2). Without its clear waters, the Rio Pacuare will not be able hold that status.
Every year, the Pacuare brings over 450,000 tourists to its waters (Buckner 4). Almost all tourists experience the river by kayaking or rafting, and because the average rafting or kayaking trip costs 150 dollars, the Rio Pacuare is a huge environmental and economical asset to Costa Rica (Rachoweiki 158). Currently the Rio Pacuare is under pressure. A hydroelectric dam is to be built on the Pacuare. In 1994 a plan was laid out to have the dam done by the end of the century. Officially the dam is still to be built, but enviro
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