The first European
explorer to encounter Costa Rica was the Christopher Columbus.
In 1502 Columbus landed off the coast during his fourth
voyage to the New World. His arrival was welcomed and treated
with with great hospitality by the indigenous peoples who
had never seen white men before. A late explorer by the
name of Gil Gonzalex Davila would name the area Costa Rica
(Gold Coast) after observiing locals wearing gold in their
ears and noses.
While Columbus assumed
he had discovered a New World, archaeologists today know
that people lived in the region of Costa Rica for thousands
of years prior to the arrival of the Spanish. One interesting
mystery of the region relates to thousands of round granite
balls found on the western coast. The size of these balls
range from very small to the size of a small car! Recently
the ruins of an ancient city was found in the vacinity of
San Jose. Throughout the country discoveries of quality
jade and gold work has also been found. Of interest to many
relates to the sites found in the Nicoya Peninsula that
show influence of both the Olmec and Nahuati civilizations.
Costa Rica has a feel
very distinct compared to other former Spanish colonies.
The influence of the Spanish in this region was relatively
weak due to the tough terrain and of course a lack of precious
metals. As such during colonial times the attention of the
Spanish where focused on places such as Mexico and Peru.
Mexico rebelled against
Spain in 1821. Following Mexico's lead, Costa Rica and the
rest of Central America soon followed. Independence followed
Military rule did occur
off and on during the following years, however the brutality
seen in neighboring countries did not happen in Costa Rica.
As it turns out many of the military rulers actually promoted
many useful and popular social reforms.
The building of the rail
line started under Tomas Guardia signifcantly improved Costa
Rica's fortunes. The rail line was begun in 1871 with the
goal of connecting the central highlands to Puerto Limon.
Once completed the rail line helped in terms of travel and
the transport of items in the country.
The main turning point
in Costa Rica as it relates to political stability came
about as a result of the civil war in 1948. After a brief
but bloody civil war Jose Maria Figueres Ferrer came to
power. Under his leadership Costa Rica saw significant social
changes. The military was abolished, women and blacks gained
the vote, and presidential terms were limited. These actions
set the foundation for once of the more peaceful and prosperous
nations found in Latin America today.
In 1987 President Oscar
Arias Sanchez won the Nobel Peace Price for his tireless
efforts to put an end to the Nicaraguan civil war. His plan
brought peace to the region and relative stability to Nicaragua.
of the information on our site as it relates to Costa Rica
of Christopher P. Baker and Avalon Travel Publishing.
© 2004 Christopher P. Baker. All Rights Reserved.
A2Z Languages highly
recommends Christopher P. Baker's book: Moon
Handbooks Costa Rica. Click on the image
to visit his website where you can purchase this book or
find out more about the author.