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Costa Rica History

Seal of Costa Rica  The Atlantic seashore of Costa Rica was discovered in 1502, from the European point of view of that epoch, by Columbus while his 4th and last voyage. Although explored by the Spanish in the beginnings of the XVI century, initial attempts at colonizing Costa Rica proved to be not possible due to several of factors like mosquitoes, heat, resistance by natives, and even pirates...

Then, in 1563 a permanent settlement of Cartago was established in the cooler and fertile (by active volcano ashes) central highlands. The area remained as a colony for some two and a half centuries, up to 1821, when Costa Rica became one of several Central American provinces that declared together their independence from Spain.

A United Provinces of Central America was joined two years later, only for its disintegration in 1838, at which time Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence. It is remarkable that since the late XIX century, only two brief periods of violence have spoiled the democratic development of the country. And this is one of the key features that distinguish Costa Rica from the rest of the countries of the world, officially settled in the historic edict of 1948 for abolish the army, fact that was reality one year later, with the writing of the first Constitution in 1949. Since this, Costa Rica rely entirely upon international legislation and diplomacy to resolve any political issue with other countries, while drives all the resources and work, which without that might be used to military activities, to education and social development, as a way of living in a practical peace.

Despite a large agricultural sector it still remaining, Costa Rica has enlarged its economy by including ecotourism and high technology industries.

(En Español: Historia de Costa Rica)

History of Costa Rica

Costa Rica Map, 1798 Location: At the center of America.
Coordinates: 9°55'N 84°4'W
Subdivisions: Provinces: 7, Cantons: 81, Districts: 473
Area: 51,100 km² (19,730 sq mi)
Population: 4,451,262 (Dec 31, 2008)
Longest linear distance: 464 km (288.3 mi) NW-SE.
Shortest linear distance: 119 km (73.9 mi) NE-SW
(this is the shortest distance between the oceans).
Capital: San José.
     Elevation: 1,156 m ASL (3,792.6 feet)
     Average Temperature: 20.3°C (68.5°F)
     Annual Rainfall: 1,500 - 2,000 mm (59-79 inches)
* First country in the world to constitutionally abolish its army in 1948.

"Carreta Típica" San José, Costa Rica
"Carreta Típica"
Costa Rica.

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 Inhabited by original American indigenous people, Costa Rica in the Pre-Columbian era, were part of the International Intermediate Area, located between the Mesoamerican and Andean cultural regions, and which has recently been updated in order to include the influence of the Isthmo-Colombian area. Even more, Costa Rica was the convergence narrow region where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures met.

The northwest area of the country, the Nicoya peninsula, was precisely the southernmost point of Nahuatl cultural influence when the Spanish conquerors came in the sixteenth century. The central and southern portions of the country had Chibcha influences. However, the indigenous people have influenced modern Costa Rican culture to a relatively small degree, as most of them died from diseases transmitted by the Spaniards.

In 1502, Christopher Columbus was the first European to arrive at what is today known as Costa Rica. While in Spanish Colonial times, Guatemala City was the largest one in Central America. The distance from Costa Rica to this centre of activities led to create problems in establishing routes for trade, and was one of the reasons that Costa Ricans developed in relative isolation, with few supervision from the Spanish Monarchy.

 Then in 1821 Costa Rica and other Central American provinces engaged in a historic joint declaration of independence from Spain. After a short time as part of the Mexican Empire of Agustín de Iturbide, Costa Rica became a state in the Federal Republic of Central America (from 1823 to 1839). The capital was moved to San José in 1824, but the violence briefly arose through an intense rivalry with Cartago. Despite the newly independent provinces conformed a Federation, frontier disputes surged among them, generating turbulent conditions to the history of this region.

The membership of Costa Rica in the recently formed Federal Republic of Central America, free of Spanish rule, was of short duration; long after the Central American Federation ceased its functions, in 1838 Costa Rica proclaimed itself sovereign. There was a long distance from the government home in Guatemala City to the Central Valley of Costa Rica, where most of the population lived (and still lives today), thus the local Costa Rican population had few allegiance to it, in part due to the history of isolation during Colonial times. This disinterest of Costa Rica in form part of a greater Central American government, as one of its province, was one of the key factors in the separation into independent states, which still exist today, from the inexperienced federation. Therefore, the Central American nations still celebrate their independence day at September 15, which pertains to the independence of Central America from Spain.

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