Background Notes: Republic of Costa Rica

Contributed By RealAdventures

Unlike many of their Central American neighbors, present-day Costa Ricans are largely of European rather than mestizo descent; Spain was the primary country of origin. Few of the native Indians survived European contact; the indigenous population today numbers about 29,000 or less than 1% of the population. Descendants of 19th century Jamaican immigrant workers constitute an English-speaking minority and -- at 3% of the population -- number about 96,000.

In 1502, on his fourth and last voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus made the first European landfall in the area. Settlement of Costa Rica began in 1522. For nearly three centuries, Spain administered the region as part of the Captaincy General of Guatemala under a military Governor. The Spanish optimistically called the country "Rich Coast." Finding little gold or other valuable minerals in Costa Rica, however, the Spanish turned to agriculture.

The small landowners' relative poverty, the lack of a large indigenous labor force, the population's ethnic and linguistic homogeneity, and Costa Rica's isolation from the Spanish colonial centers in Mexico and the Andes all contributed to the development of an autonomous and individualistic agrarian society. An egalitarian tradition also arose. This tradition survived the widened class distinctions brought on by the 19th-century introduction of banana and coffee cultivation and consequent accumulations of local wealth.

Costa Rica joined other Central American provinces in 1821 in a joint declaration of independence from Spain. Although the newly independent provinces formed a Federation, border disputes broke out among them, adding to the region's turbulent history and conditions. Costa Rica's northern Guanacaste Province was annexed from Nicaragua in one such regional dispute. In 1838, long after the Central American Federation ceased to function in practice, Costa Rica formally withdrew and proclaimed itself sovereign.

An era of peaceful democracy in Costa Rica began in 1899 with elections considered the first truly free and honest ones in the country's history. This began a trend continued until today with only two lapses: in 1917-19, Federico Tinoco ruled as a dictator, and, in 1948, Jose Figueres led an armed uprising in the wake of a disputed presidential election.

With more than 2,000 dead, the 44-day civil war resulting from this uprising was the bloodiest event in 20th century Costa Rican history, but the victorious junta drafted a constitution guaranteeing free elections with universal suffrage and the abolition of the military. Figueres became a national hero, winning the first election under the new constitution in 1953. Since then, Costa Rica has held 11 presidential elections, the latest in 1998.

Similar Listings

More Vacation Ideas | View More...

Costa Rica Sportfishing with Quepos Fish...

Costa Rica Sportfishing with Quepos Fishing -0.0 mi away
Quepos, Costa Rica
Fishing Trips

From USD $995 per Trip
Learn Spanish and More...

Learn Spanish and More0.0 mi away
Alajuela, Costa Rica
Language Schools

From USD $378 per Week
Private Tropical Fjord Beach Primary Rai...

Private Tropical Fjord Beach Primary Rainforest0.0 mi away
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Vacation Rentals

From USD $70 per Night
Hang Glide Costa Rica...

Hang Glide Costa Rica0.0 mi away
Central Pacific, Costa Rica
Hang Gliding

From USD $95 per Trip
Reef Runner Divers - Puerto Viejo Caribb...

Reef Runner Divers - Puerto Viejo Caribbean0.0 mi away
Caribbean, Costa Rica
Scuba & Snorkeling

From USD $35 per Trip
Casa Yoses...

Casa Yoses0.0 mi away
San Jose, Costa Rica
Youth Hostels

From USD $10 per Night
Costa Rica Variety Tour...

Costa Rica Variety Tour0.0 mi away
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Sight-Seeing Tours

From USD $1,895 per Trip
Manu villa rental and vacation rentals C...

Manu villa rental and vacation rentals Costa Rica0.0 mi away
Dominical, Costa Rica
Vacation Rentals

From USD $280 per Night
Costa Rica Flexi Vacations...

Costa Rica Flexi Vacations0.0 mi away
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Eco Tours

From USD $90 per Night
Quepos Vacation Home Rentals...

Quepos Vacation Home Rentals0.0 mi away
Quepos, Costa Rica
Vacation Rentals

From USD $500 per Week

Browse 682 Other Listings in Costa Rica

Advertise Your Accommodation or Travel Services

Create A ListingGreat Vacations & Exciting Destinations Listing
Add a full-page listing promoting your accommodations, tours or travel services to customers on our network of travel sites. Your listing page can have up to 26 images, unlimited text, interactive map, availability calendar, ecards, photo-gallery and more.
Rates From US $17 Per Month    » View Details

Disclaimer: Information provided through RealAdventures website, newsletters, emails or other services has been provided directly by the companies and/or individuals owning or offering the products/services. RealAdventures does not guarantee or warranty the accuracy of the information contained herein. It is the sole responsibility of the user to ensure the accuracy and clarity of any posted material and to determine the suitability of any service for their particular needs or requirements. Likewise, it is the responsibility of advertisers to determine the suitability and credit worthiness of potential customers prior to any transaction.

Listing # RA-1024191