Costa Rica

Costa Rica History


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Costa Rica History

Costa Rica was inhabited by an estimated 25,000 Indians when Columbus explored it in 1502. Few of the Indians survived the Spanish conquest, which began in 1563. The region grew slowly and was administered as a Spanish province. Costa Rica achieved independence in 1821 but was absorbed for two years by Agustín de Iturbide in his Mexican empire. It became a republic in 1848. Except for the military dictatorship of Tomás Guardia from 1870 to 1882, Costa Rica has enjoyed one of the most democratic governments in Latin America.

In the 1970s, rising oil prices, falling international commodity prices, and inflation hurt the economy. Efforts have since been made to reduce reliance on coffee, banana, and beef exports. Tourism is now a major business. Oscar Arias Sanchez, who became president in 1986, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his role in negotiating settlements to both the Nicaraguan and the Salvadoran civil wars.

José Maria Figueres Olsen of the National Liberation Party became president in 1994. He opposed economic suggestions made by the International Monetary Fund, instead favoring greater government intervention in the economy. The World Bank subsequently withheld $100 million of financing. In 1998, Miguel Angel Rodríguez of the Social Christian Unity Party became president, pledging economic reforms, such as privatization. In 2000, Costa Rica and Nicaragua resolved a long-standing dispute over navigation of the San Juan River, which forms their border. A psychiatrist, Abel Pacheco, also of the Social Christian Unity Party, won the presidency in elections held in April 2002. In May 2003, several national strikes took place, by energy and telecommunications workers over privatization, and by teachers over their salaries.

Origin of the name, Costa Rica Spanish for rich coast.  Named by Columbus who thought there was gold to be found there.


Click on each link below to learn more about the symbols.
  • Capital - San José
  • National Bird - The "Yigüirro" (Turdus grayi), also known as the clay colored robin or gray thrush.
  • National Flag - The flag of Costa Rica consists of five horizontal stripes: A red stripe located in the center, between two white stripes, which are between two blue stripes. The width of each stripe is 1/6 of the total width of the flag, except the red stripe, which is 2/6 of the total width.
  • National Flower - The "Guaria Morada" (Cattleya skinneri), an orchid
  • National Anthem
  • Coat of Arms 
  • National Motto - Pura Vida, popularly translated as "So Alive"
  • National Tree - The "Guanacaste" (Enterolobium cyclocarpum)
  • Currency - colón


Costa Rica consists of seven provinces:

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  1. Alajuela (central; north of capital San José)
  2. Cartago
  3. Guanacaste (north-west)
  4. Heredia
  5. Limón
  6. Puntarenas (south-west)
  7. San José (Area around capital)


Spanish is the official language. 


Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture, and electronics exports. Poverty has been substantially reduced over the past 15 years, and a strong social safety net has been put into place.

The economy has been booming for Costa Rica because the Government had implemented a seven year plan of expansion in the high tech industry. They have tax exemptions for those who are willing to invest in the country. With their high level of educated residents, they make an attractive investing location. Several global high tech corporations have already started developing in the area exporting goods.

Costa Rica Links

CA - Costa Rica
Commercial Site but has good country info
InfoPlease - Costa Rica Information

Nature in Costa Rica
Archaeology of Costa Rica

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Source: Wikpedia the free Encyclopedia,, Government of Costa Rica

Kim and Don Greene, Contributors; publication date February 2005