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DISCOVER

Costa Rica

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Biodiversity

OUR

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HISTORY

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CLIMATE

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TYPES OF
FOREST

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FUN FACTS

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PROVINCES

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POPULAR
ACTIVITIES

General Information

 
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Costa Rica is a Democratic Republic, divided into 7 provinces. Neighbors are Nicaragua to the north, and Panama to the south. The Capital being San José, with a climate divided into two seasons: dry season and rainy season.

Costa Rica is a very mountainous country and most of the territory is formed by elevations between 900 and 1800 meters above sea level. There are four main mountain systems: the Guanacaste Volcanic mountain range, the Tilarán Minera mountain range, the Central Volcanic mountain range and the Talamanca mountain range, there are also four secondary mountain systems: Nicoya mountain ranges located in the Guanacaste province; Brunqueña row or Coastal row that runs through the province of Puntarenas parallel to the coast; and the Sierra de Osa, in the South Pacific, a series of mountains that extend to Panama, has heights between 600 and 1500 meters above sea level. The highest point in the country is the Chirripó hill (3820 masl), the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano is the Irazú volcano (3432 masl). The country has about 200 volcanoes, of which five are active: Irazú, Poás, Arenal, Rincón de la Vieja and Turrialba.

Costa Rica takes pride in its history and conservationism! An extensive effort in preserving the natural resources enclosed within 51,100 km2, and holding around 6% of the world’s biodiversity. Costa Rica began reversing deforestation in the 1990s, and they are moving towards using only renewable energy. One of the highlights of our nation, is the abolition of the military force back on December 1st, 1948, by the year 1949 the complete abolition was introduced in Article 12, of the Costa Rican Constitution. From here on the military budget was invested in education and health care. 

Not only does the country invest in green initiatives, but the culture has also been shaped around this idea of conservation and efforts in individual communities through activism. You will find nature, culture, and a tight correlation between a history of peace and the Pura Vida vibe!

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History Overview

 

During the pre-Columbian era, presence of the Mesoamerican and Andean native cultures overlapped. More recently, pre-Columbian Costa Rica has also been described as part of the Isthmo-Colombian Area. The presence of hunters-gatherers can be dated back to 10.000 to 7.000 BCE, it's likely that two cultures co-existed together. Around 5.000 years later the development of agriculture with basics as roots and tubers, the exact process of transition from gatherers to agriculture is unknown, evidence of pottery, vases, platters and other tools can be found in 2.000 BCE. 

The origin of the name Costa Rica “rich coast” can be either attributed to Cristopher Columbus or Gil González Davila, who respectively arrived in Costa Rica in 1502 and 1522. The reason is believed to be the amount of gold jewellery worn by local tribes. During most of the colonial period Costa Rica belonged to the Captaincy General of Guatemala, nominally part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The distance from the captaincy,  the lack of resources such as gold, silver and indigenous population for encomienda (forced labour) made Costa Rica the poorest of the Spaniard colonies, this prevented the establishment of large plantations. Overlooked by the Spanish Crown, Costa Rica was left to develop on its own. The result was the development of a more egalitarian society, Costa Rica becoming a “rural democracy” with no oppression of mestizo or indigenous descendants.

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Like the rest of Central America, Costa Rica gained independence on September 15 1821, after the defeat of the Spanish in the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821). Upon independence two bands were formed, both with different political interests, the Imperialists, in favor joining the Mexican empire, defended by Cartago and Heredia cities. The cities of San Jose and Alajuela who wanted full independence.  After disagreements between the two bands, the first civil war took place. The Battle of Ochomogo took place in the Central Valley in 1823. The Republicans won the war, the city of Cartago lost its status as capital, to this day San Jose was chosen as the new capital. 

 

After the Federal Republic of Central America ceased to exist, Costa Rica formally proclaimed itself sovereign. Cutting ties from the rest of Central America and becoming fully independent.

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The economic growth of the country has been widely based on the production of basic grains and products: tobacco, sugar and cacao were the primary exports. By the 1820´s coffee became the main production, this created a wealthy class of Coffee Barons, the revenue helped modernize the country. The main consumer of coffee was Britain, this pushed the construction of the railroad from San Jose to Limon port, U.S. businessman Minor C. Keith was hired to build the project which started in 1870, after many delays, disease and financial difficulties the project was completed by 1890 with the help of Jamaican, US convicts, Italians and Chinese immigrants. In exchange for the work the Costa Rican government granted Mr Keith large tracts of land and a lease on the train route, which he used to produce bananas and export them to the United States. Eventually bananas became the main product for exportation, opening the doors to exploitative companies as United Fruit Company, this lead to The Great Banana Strike, this major event in was an important step towards the formation of effective trade unions in Costa Rica, by 1938 the company was required to sign collective agreements with workers. 

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Between 1917 and 1979, General Federico Tinoco ruled as a military dictator, he was overthrown and forced to exile. This led to a decline in the size and wealth of the military politically speaking. One of the main events in Costa Rican history was in 1948, when José Figueres Ferrer led an armed uprising in a presidential election between Rafael Angel Calderón (president between 1940-1944) and Otilio Ulate Blanco. The war lasted for 44 days and resulted in the death of 2.000, becoming the bloodiest event in the 20th century. 

 

Rebels formed a temporary government, abolished the military and oversaw the drafting of the new constitution. Once the reforms were made, they transferred the power to Ulate in November 1949. Later Figueres became the first president to be elected democratically under the new constitution in 1953. With a stable democratic government dating back to 1948, in one of the most stables in the near region. 

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NATIONAL SYMBOLS

 
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The Flag

The easiest one to remember, the Costa Rican flag was declared National Symbol on September 29, 1848. The Costa Rican flag has five horizontal bars, blue, white, red, white and blue.

Emblem

The emblem is a national symbol since 1848, it went through a lot of changes, and finally in 1998 it was established that it must have three steaming volcanoes, a light green valley, greenish blue mountains, a golden arc made of coffee beans, seven stars representing the provinces a raisin sun and oceans at each side.

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Pabellón Nacional

The easiest one to remember, the Costa Rican flag was declared National Symbol on September 29, 1848. The Costa Rican flag has five horizontal bars, blue, white, red, white and blue.

National Anthem

Written by José María Zeledón, music by Manuel María Gutiérrez. The National Anthem is not a war song; rather, it tells the story of a democratic people, of farmers who have not experienced great conflicts

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Guaria Morada

The Purple Orchid that grows in Costa Rica’s forests and the gardens of many houses. This is Costa Rica’s National Flower. This national beauty blossoms during the months of January through March. It usually produces four to five flowers, each lasting only a limited time.

Guanacaste Tree

Written by José María Zeledón, music by Manuel María Gutiérrez. The National Anthem is not a war song; rather, it tells the story of a democratic people, of farmers who have not experienced great conflicts

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Yiguirro

(Turdus Grayi), the country’s national bird, declared as such in 1977. Although the yiguirro is not the most attractive bird in the country, its beautiful tune makes it Costa Rica’s favorite.

Ox Cart

The ox cart hand painted with incredible detail is considered a symbol of work as it was the main form of transportation of coffee from the central valley to Puntarenas.

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White-tailed Deer

In May 1995, President José María Figueres Olsen declared the ‘White-tailed deer’ (scientific name is Odocoileus virginianus) to be the National Symbol of Wildlife in Costa Rica.

The Marimba

This historic and popular musical instrument is an emblem that represents and dignified art and culture of the people of Costa Rica, a peaceful country, which has prevailed since the annexation of Guanacaste to Costa Rica.

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Independence Torch

Represents the liberty and independence of Costa Rica and the rest of the Central American countries. Represents the lights that travelled from Guatemala to Costa Rica to announce the

good news.

Los Crestones

A symbol of Costa Rica’s national richness, declared as a national symbol April 14, 2011. Located in the Chirripó National Park at 3,720 meters above sea level.

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The Manatee

It symbolizes the country’s marine fauna. It is an endangered species which is why manatee sanctuaries are strongly protected.

Diquis Stone Spheres

A symbol of Costa Rica’s national richness, declared as a national symbol April 14, 2011. Located in the Chirripó National Park at 3,720 meters above sea level.

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PROVINCES