Brief History of Costa Rica

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Brief history of Costa Rica :  COSTA RICA’S FIRST  PEOPLE.  Within these soaring mountains and dense mystical rain forests lived small non unified groups of Indians with diverse language and culture. They hunted and fished, and lived off the land by cultivating corn and yucca.  They were skilled in the art of ceramics, metal work,weaving, and stone carvings.  Historians  state that there were approximately 60,000 indigenous people in Costa Rica when Christopher Columbus arrived.
Summary of How Costa Rica Was Settled
Costa Rica,  is a small tropical jewel located in what is known as “Central America.”  Nicaragua is its northern neighbor and Panama is it’s southern neighbor.
In the year 1502, Christopher Columbus on his 3rd voyage to the new world,  landed on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast near by the present day  town of Limon in search of gold.  However, this search to  enrich the Spanish crown failed.  Columbus instead  encountered the rough terrains of raging rivers, rugged  mountains covered with dense rain forest , and a native population of people who looked upon the white man with distrust and suspicion.  And there was very little gold.
Columbus, however,  was in awe of the immense natural beauty of this land and named it Costa Rica meaning “rich coast”
What was the life really like here in 1502 , when white man first put foot on these beautiful palm tree draped beaches, towering mountains, and dense rainforest .. home to  hundreds of species of birds, animals, and plants?
Small non unified groups of Indians with diverse languages and culture were scattered through out  this land.  They hunted, fished, and lived off the land by growing crops of corn and yucca .  They were enthusiastic traders , exchanging ceramics, jade and gold as far north as Mexico and south to Ecuador.
However; despite the cruel hardships encountered in this mountainous rainforest the Spaniards continued to cross the vast Atlantic Ocean to explore  this new land,  clear it  for their crops and raise their families.  Soon small settlements grew into larger settlements and trade was begun with the Indians.
By the early 18th century, more and more settlers had arrived from Spain.  The indigenous population had died of diseases or been killed, and those remaining fled to the mountains for refuge.  The Spanish settlers worked the land with their own hands, without slaves,  Thus, the great democratic tradition (for which Costa Rica is famous) began with the independent yeoman farmer working his plot of land in the hills, creating  a spirit of pride and independence.
Wealth did not come to Costa Rica until around 1840 when coffee became a big business.  The rich soil and mild mountain climate was perfect for the production of coffee.

Land was granted free by the government to families to grow coffee, and soon large quantities were being exported to England and to Europe.   These wealthy Costa Ricans wanted more and traveled to Europe and sent their children to be educated there.
Soon,  this European influence began to be seen the in architecture of the homes, churches, office buildings.  The wealthy Costa Ricans adopted a more gentile way of life, built beautiful homes  in the European style,  and employed servants.  The women brought their elegant wardrobes from Europe, and the National Theater in San Jose was constructed to house operas for a sophisticated audience.

This article is meant to be a very brief summary so the reader can understand more about the Costa Rican people and their culture.   1. What language is spoken in Costa Rica?  Spanish is the mother language because the first white people to settle Costa Rica came from Spain.   2.  What is their religion?  Primarily Roman Catholic, brought by the Spanish immigrants from Spain.   3. Culture?  Latin in nature.  Costa Ricans are laid back, do not live  by a clock,   are family orientated,  friendly and they genuinely like people from other countries.

All Costa Ricans attend school to at least age 16 so the literacy rate is high.   Health care is provided through a socialized system which is not free. Participation requires paying monthly into the system.  The government is a social democracy with elections every four years.  Costa Rica prides itself in it’s democratic tradition.  Most Costa Ricans, even the most modest income levels own their home and a small plot of land.   In the rural areas you still will find the proud farmer who tills his small plot, raising the basic necessities for his family such as a cow, pig,  and vegetable garden.

Tourism is Costa Rica’s number one industry and coffee and bananas is second.  Also there is a lot of  industry,  Intel being one of the largest making computer chips.

Capital CitySan Jose.  It is not a visually pretty city,  very congested,  poorly planned, and difficult to get around in.  Best to hire a taxi to get get from point A to point B.

What is Costa Rica like today? It’s still mostly agrarian, growing large acreages in coffee, sugar cane, bananas and pineapple.  However, around 1990 Costa Rica began to catch on as a small country rich in biodiversity and  natural beauty. The word “ecotourism” became a big word in Costa Rica.  Tourism gradually became the number one money maker.  Tourist love the natural beauty, volcanoes, beautiful beaches,  and rain forest filled mountains.

What do you think of this article?  I welcome comments and questions.  Just click on “no comment” at end of this post.  I learn from your questions and comments.  Ann

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