Costa Rica was discovered and probably named by Christopher Columbus, on his fourth trip to America, in 1502. There were about thirty thousand indigenous people in the region, divided into three groups: ghettos, chorotegas and borucos. Found the first evidence of gold, used in indigenous ornaments, the Spaniards planned a colonization nucleus under the command of Bartolomé Colombo, brother of the discoverer. Expelled soon after by the indigenous people, they only conquered the region in 1530. Before becoming the province of the captaincy-general of Guatemala, in 1540, Costa Rica was called Nova Cartago. The demarcation limits were set between 1560 and 1573.
According to Themotorcyclers.com, Costa Rica became independent on September 15, 1821, and three years later it briefly joined Mexico. In 1824 he joined the Central American Federation, which was dissolved in 1838. At that time, coffee exports to Europe began, and San José experienced a period of intense growth and prosperity. During the administration of General Tomás Guardia, who despotically governed the country between 1870 and 1882, Costa Rica achieved remarkable economic development. The sugar and coffee trade increased, railways were built and ports were opened to transport production. Banana plantations, controlled from 1899 by United Fruit Co., began to compete in economic importance with those of sugar cane and coffee. In 1890 José Joaquín Rodríguez became president;
Direct voting was instituted in 1913, but the most voted presidential candidate failed to win a majority and the Legislative Assembly elected Alfredo González Flores. In 1917, a movement led by General Federico Tinoco deposed the constitutional president and instituted a dictatorship. Two years later, Tinoco was forced to resign by pressure from the United States and from the American government, which did not recognize the regime. Elected presidents succeeded each other until 1948, the year in which the electoral results were contested by leftist groups, which triggered the brief civil war that brought José Figueres Ferrer to power. The revolutionary junta that took over the government abolished the army and created a civil guard, drafted a new constitution and installed the victorious candidate at the polls, Otilio Ulate Blanco. In 1953, José Figueres returned to power, nationalized the banks, imposed restrictions on United Fruit and faced an invasion launched by its exiled opponents in Nicaragua. Figueres inscribed his name in the country’s history with several decades devoted to social reforms, political openness to the outside and social-democratic ideals.
Throughout the 1980s, Costa Rica preserved its political regime, based on civilian power legitimized by elections, but was embroiled in economic and financial problems, the most pressing of which was foreign debt. At the beginning of the decade, the country spent 50% of its export revenue on the financial expenses generated by the debt. In May 1986, the government even announced a temporary moratorium on foreign debt interest and, the following year, launched an austerity program to try to save national finances.
Costa Rica’s international position, which maintained a high degree of independence in relation to the large power blocs, enabled it to operate with good results at the regional level. President Oscar Arias Sánchez, elected in 1986, had a prominent role in mediating civil wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador and for his effort he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987. In 1989, first inter-American summit meeting in 22 years to commemorate the centenary of democracy in Costa Rica. In 1990 Arias was succeeded by Rafael Angel Calderón Fournier, of the opposition.
The President-elect of Costa Rica appoints 15 ministers, together with whom he forms the governing council. Legislative power is made up of a unicameral assembly, whose members, like the president, are also elected by universal vote for four-year terms. The assembly elects the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice.
The country is divided into the provinces of Guanacaste, Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, San José, Limón and Puntarenas, which are subdivided into cantons, and these, into districts. According to the 1949 constitution, Costa Rica has no army. Order is maintained by the civil guard and a rural guards corps inside.
Society and culture
Public education receives about 25% of the national budget. Primary schooling is compulsory and ninety percent of Costa Ricans older than ten are literate. The University of Costa Rica and the Autonomous University of Central America are the main centers of higher education. The official and majority religion is Catholic, although freedom of worship has been guaranteed by law since 1860.
Costa Ricans retain their folk traditions, especially the national dance called punto guanacasteco, but social life is modern and cosmopolitan. The National Museum contains a wide variety of pre-Columbian relics, among which are stone carvings and gold objects, similar to what Columbus found in the 16th century.
Costa Rican literature is one of the newest in Central America: it has no colonial past and its expression in the 19th century is limited. Noteworthy are Ricardo Fernández Guardia, a historian who studied the colonial period, and Aquileo Echeverría, the first and most popular of Costa Rican poets.