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Costa Rica's history Overview

Costa Rica's history is one of triumph of peace over hostility, thus the tranquil laid back atmosphere in the country.  

Studies done in Costa Rica confirm that civilizations had settled in this region 10,000 years ago, well before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. Many indigenous civilizations, made Costa Rica their homes, and left mysteries and marvels for future generations. One of these wonders are the hundreds of perfect rock spheres, found throughout the west coast.

Gold and Jade objects are other treasured items left behind by ancient civilizations, and they can now they can be observed and appreciated in museums around the central valley.

More recently, some indigenous ruins have been discovered around the central valley, demonstrating a very sophisticated system of waterworks and canals.

By the time Columbus arrived, there were four major indigenous tribes living in Costa Rica. The east coast was the realm of the Caribs, while the Borucas, Chibchas, and Diquis resided in the southwest.

After its independence from Spain there were several military governments, until it finally became a democracy with a publicly elected president and parliament or Asamblea. Coffee quickly became the main product of Costa Rica, but other products such as bananas also helped boost the Costa Rican economy. Revenues from these activities promoted the modernization of transportation and telecommunication systems, helped build roads, railways, and made education available to everyone.

There were some memorable and not so many memorable presidents that helped forge the Costa Rica that exists today. Without a doubt, and to this date, the most influential leader was Jose Figueres Ferrer, who lead the victorious side in the the civil war of 1948, abolished the army, established many of the social programs and changed the face of our nation forever, turning it into the warm, calm and peaceful nation it is today. Ex-president Oscar Arias put Costa Rica back on the world map again by winning the Nobel Peace price in 1987 for his efforts in the Central American conflicts.

Today Costa Rica remains a peace loving country, with no army. Instead we have one of the highest literacy rates in the world, and many multinational companies such as Intel and Amazon among others have set up operations here. Tourism has replaced the traditional products of the country as the #1 source of income.