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History of Costa Rica - Colorful streets tell interesting stories

History of Costa Rica

The history of Costa Rica is a long and fascinating story – a story of proud indigenous people, of bold explorers, and of conflict and peace.

For a long time, the story of Costa Rica was told only from September 18, 1502, onward, the date when the land was discovered by Christopher Columbus. However, for thousands of years before that, the land had been home to indigenous civilizations, signs of which can still be seen in the Guayabo National Monument, a mysterious ruined city east of San Jose. Archaeologists have estimated that the city was once home to nearly 10,000 people, ample traces of whom can be seen as you walk through the paved streets. Today most of the city remains undiscovered and buried – who knows what mysteries are waiting underneath the soil?

La Pura Vida Costa Rica, Central America
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Enchanting Travels Costa Rica Historic Architecture on Grand Boulevard in Colonial Latin American City

European colonization

With the coming of the Europeans, the colonies in Costa Rica took a long time to flourish, with the colonizers not finding the riches they had expected.

In the 1560s the city of Cartago was established, set up to be a permanent stronghold for the struggling colony. You can visit Cartago today, walking through its historic streets to experience the old world charm and understanding what the city, and indeed the country, would have been like all those years ago. Costa Rica gained independence from Spain in the 1820s.

With the perfect climate for growing coffee and fruits, exporting coffee and bananas shaped Costa Rica’s economy over the decades to come, especially after the opening of the Panama Canal.

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Modern history of Costa Rica

In 1948, following a Civil war, the country was led by Jose Maria Figueres Ferrer who gave women the right to vote, abolished the military, and implemented many other progressive policies. To this day, he is regarded as one of the country’s greatest leaders. This commitment to peace remained and in 1987 president Sanchez received the Nobel peace prize for his role in ending the Nicaraguan Civil War.

Today the instability of the past is long gone, and Costa Rica is at peace. Modern Costa Rica is a land of beautiful expansive, protected green spaces, tropical climate and warm people, and is waiting for you to experience it all, tailored, with us.

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