city, southern Costa Rica. It is located on sheltered El Golfito Inlet, off the Gulf of Dulce and surrounded by steep hills. The heavy rainfall supports a tropical rainforest vegetation similar to that of the Caribbean coast. Golfito was built in the 1930s as a company town providing housing and facilities for the employees of the United Fruit Company. At the time, United Fruit was shifting operations from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast in order to escape banana diseases that had swept the region. For more than 40 years, Golfito was the principal banana port of United Fruit in Costa Rica, but in 1985 labour strife and higher production costs convinced the company to abandon banana production in the area. The company did not abandon all its holdings, however, and continued to produce tropical woods, quinine, essential oils, and rubber. Following the decline of banana production and the economic hardship caused by its demise, the government of Costa Rica made Golfito a free port, giving Costa Rican citizens the right to purchase imported items cheaper there than elsewhere in the country. A highway leads from the city to the Inter-American Highway. Pop. (2000 est.) 10,915.
* * *