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Costa Rica


Buceo click on the image to enlarge
In Pre-Columbian times, the Indigenous people, in what is now known as Costa Rica, were part of the Intermediate Area located between the Mesoamerican and Andean cultural regions. This has recently been updated to include the influence of the Isthmo-Colombian area in the South-Atlantic region of the country, defined by the presence of groups that spoke Chibchan languages. It is still unknown if any of these groups created the famous stone spheres of Costa Rica, between 200 BC and AD 1600.

Guanacaste Nicoya click on the image to enlarge
There is evidence of human habitation in Costa Rica as early as 10,000 BC in the southern Turrialba Valley. Ceramic artifacts have been dated to 1500 BC, although they are not abundant and widely scattered. After 400 BC, there was a dramatic increase in population, trade, agricultural sophistication, and social complexity. Three distinct cultural zones also emerge around 400 BC: Guanacaste-Nicoya in the drier northwest, the Central Highlands Region, and Diquis in the southwest. The culture of Guanacaste-Nicoya is related to that of the Greater Nicoya Region extending into modern Nicaragua while Diquis was closely tied to the Greater Chiriqui Region in what is now Panama.

After 400 AD population centers balkanized into relatively small, rudimentary settlements accompanied by a gradual degradation of the quality of ceramics. Later artifacts point to a strong southern influence, as sculpture, house forms, and burial practices shift drastically to southern styles.

Isla Uvita click on the image to enlarge
Christopher Columbus first visited the area in 1492.   He arrived at Cariay, in front of the Quiribrí island (present day Isla Uvita). The subsequent conquest and colonization of the area was complicated from this distance against fierce indigenous resistance, however it paled in comparison to the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

bus click on the image to enlarge
During the 15th century, the area found itself with a quickly diminishing workforce. The indigenous populations, slaves at the time, were constantly falling ill to many of the diseases brought by the colonists, or dying in resistance battles. Also, the lack of abundant mineral resources and the fact that the richest soils were found deep in the heart of the country (the Central Valley), severely hindered the colonization effort. All these circumstances made Costa Rica, the southernmost province in the Captaincy General of Guatemala, the poorest and most irrelevant region. However, the colonists that braved the hard trip in the Central Valley had established a provincial capital Cartago.

Isla Uvita click on the image to enlarge
In 1821, the winds of independence had blown in from the north. The United States of America and Mexico had won their independence and in the capital of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, Guatemala City, protests broke out demanding independence. On September 15 1821 they declared their independence from the Spanish Empire. At the time, several present-day Mexican states and most of the Central American countries belonged to the Captaincy, in order to send the news to all the states, a horse messenger was sent down through Central America.

canon click on the image to enlarge
Because Costa Rica was the southernmost province, it finally received the news of its independence on October 13, 1821. The fact that not a single gunshot was fired to obtain its independence marked Costa Rica as a peace-loving nation. Among the independence documents received from Guatemala, there was a document prepared in Nicaragua. This document is called "Los Nublados del Dia" which, in Spanish, means the "Clouds of the Day". In this document the Nicaraguan government, which was far more developed at the time and therefore closer to colonial rule, insisted that the states should not jump into independence and should wait for the "clouds of the day" to disperse before the states should make a final decision. However, because this document only reached Costa Rica, it had little effect.

Agustín de Iturbide click on the image to enlarge
After gaining independence, Costa Rica, along with the other provinces of the Captaincy, briefly joined the Mexican Empire of Agustín de Iturbide. However, because of the distance to the Mexican capital and other underlying conflicts, the Central American states including Costa Rica became federal states of the United Provinces of Central America from 1823 to 1839.  In 1838, Costa Rica proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent nation, under the rule of Braulio Carrillo Colina.

Juan Rafael Mora Porras click on the image to enlarge
In 1856 the Costa Rican army, commanded by Juan Rafael Mora Porras joined forces with the other Central American nations to expel a filibuster invasion, commanded by William Walker. In the battles of Santa Rosa, Rivas and the San Juan campaign, the filibuster army was deterred from invading Costa Rica. In the Battle of Rivas, Juan Santamaría bravely set on fire the place where the invaders had taken refuge and thus became Costa Rica's National Hero.

Costa Rica has avoided the violence that has plagued Central America; it can be seen as an example of political stability in the region. Since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development.

José Figueres Ferrer click on the image to enlarge
In 1949 José Figueres Ferrer abolished the army; making Costa Rica the first country ever to operate within the democratic system without the assistance of a military (an example that was later followed by other nations such as Panama after the American invasion of 1989 to oust General Manuel Noriega).

Costa Rica (Spanish for "Rich Coast"), was a largely agricultural country. However, during the last few decades, Costa Rica has achieved a relatively high standard of living. Electronics and Software Development are rapidly expanding industries.  Along with tourism, they serve as the major industries of the country this is thanks to its social stability and rich natural environment.

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