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History of Costa Rica

Pre-Columbian Period

Unfortunately, the indigenous tribes of the past in Costa Rica had no written languages and left little record of their life before Christopher Columbus. In addition, Costa Rica does not have grand ruins like other Central American countries .There are a few artifacts and structures to be found. However, it is possible to see artifacts from this time in the Museo de Jade or the Museo de Oro Precolombino. In these museums, it is possible to view numerous artifacts, including the amazing perfectly carved granite spheres, of which archeologists still have no idea the purpose. Costa Rica was thought to be inhabited by indigenous people as early as 1000 BC to AD 1400.


Costa Rica was first "discovered" by Columbus in 1502. His discovery changed the world of Latin America for good. The Spanish succeeded in colonizing Costa Rica after a long and difficult struggle. Indigenous groups were of little hassle for Europeans and their deadly diseases. They were quickly turned into slaves. The area became known as la costa rica, but it had few minerals or other wealth, compared to other surrounding countries. The capital at this time was Cartago. In 1723 the capital suffered greatly by an eruption of the Irazu volcano, but was quickly rebuilt. Other settlements such as Heredia and San José were built in the early 1700s, but the area remained one of the least productive conquests for the Spanish. In 1824, Costa Rica joined the Central American Federation and the province of Guanacaste was annexed from Nicaragua. The first head of state, Juan Mora Fenandez was elected in 1824.

Modern Times

The first democratic elections were held in 1889, although these did not include blacks or women, who would not receive their rights until 1949. This was also the year that the Costa Rican constitution was written. The most notable leader of today is Oscar Arias Sanchez. During his last term, he won the nobel peace prize for helping to end the war in Nicaragua and creating stability in other parts of Central America.

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