Costa Rica History

When did Costa Rica’s History Begin?

The area that comprises Costa Rica had been inhabited by humans for thousands of years, but it is only very recently that the nation of Costa Rica, in the form of the country we recognize today, emerged as an independent entity. The early inhabitants of the region were neither numerous nor powerful, consisting of the same scattered tribes as their surviving descendents.

They are not even identifiable in the same sense as the Aztecs, Mixtecs, or Zapotecs – no known city state or empire existed in Costa Rica, and the small population in the jungle-draped mountains were basically diminutive clans living on the fringes of far more powerful civilizations.

During the days when the fierce energy of the conquistadors propelled them from conquest to conquest across the length and breadth of Mesoamerica, Costa Rica was absorbed unnoticed into the new colonial empire. There were too few Indians living in the area to put up any resistance, and the area became an anonymous part of the Captaincy General of Guatemala.

However, when Spanish rule ended, this remote and then impoverished region achieved independence without a shot being fired. Initially, it was part of several larger entities, but it finally declared independence as a sovereign nation in 1838. Thus, the foundation was laid for the tropical ecological jewel that Costa Rica has become today.

What Happened in Costa Rica History After Independence?

Costa Rica’s history was relatively peaceful after independence, especially considering the colossal struggles which reduced less fortunate nations such as Mexico to scenes of civil bloodshed and devastation. The low population and remote location of the country helped to forestall these problems. Coffee growing became a major part of the early economy, which eventually attracted American investment and a switch to banana plantations, which continue to be the country’s economic backbone today.

The steady influx of money from coffee and banana sales helped to slowly expand other types of economic activity as well. This also produced several themes which helped to create today’s tourist culture. Heavy foreign involvement, especially by Americans, made the tiny isthmian country much more open to the outside world than some of its neighbors.

Secondly, many English-speaking Africans were brought in to build railways and other infrastructure, leading to today’s Afro-Costa Rican community, which is around 3% of the population.

What is Costa Rica History in the 20th Century?

The 20th century, with its vortex of mayhem and gigantic-scale wars, did not leave Costa Rica utterly unscathed. Two conflicts occurred in the first half of the 20th century, involving the overthrow of military dictatorships. The second conflict, which ended in 1949, witnesses an amazing event – the complete abolition of the Costa Rican army. To this day, Costa Rica is the only Mesoamerican nation which has no military forces of any kind.

This fascinating detail makes this small Central American country even more remarkable, particularly in light of its survival amid somewhat less pacific surroundings. Of course, the strong interests of the United States in the country, through the agency of the United Fruit Company, has undoubtedly contributed to Costa Rica’s safety, since even the most reckless military adventurers of the region would hesitate to rouse the northern giant in defense of an area which is largely made up of mountain slopes and jungle anyway.

Today, in the early years of the 21st century, Costa Rica has become part of the burgeoning ecological movement by fostering ecotourism and giving companies an incentive to participate in preserving the natural wonders of the land. The Costa Rican future is brighter than that of many other nations, and engaging in ecotourism here is a way to contribute to the latest chapter of this remarkable country’s story.