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Costa Rica Old History

 

The inhabitants of the area before the arrival of the Europeans in the 16th century mostly died out due to diseases brought by the colonizers and which the indigenous people lacked resistance to. Costa Rica was dominated by Spanish smallholder farmers. Central America and Mexico proclaimed independence from Spain in 1821 and 1838, Costa Rica became an independent state. Coffee and banana cultivation eventually became the economic base.

Archaeological finds testify to settlements in present-day Costa Rica already 10,000 years ago, but compared to other Central America, the area was sparsely populated before the arrival of the Spaniards. The people who were there lived mainly as nomads and were strongly influenced by the Mayan culture from the north. The indigenous peoples were almost wiped out on the arrival of Europeans. Only a few smaller groups survived in the mountainous regions.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Costa Rica, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

The explorer Christofer Columbus landed on the east coast in 1502 and named it Costa Rica (rich coast) after rumors of great wealth. But hopes for gold and other mineral deposits came to shame. Also, there were no conditions for large-scale feudal plantation agriculture, as the indigenous population was small and the terrain difficult. Costa Rica instead became a poor corner, far from the colonial capital of Guatemala. The area developed into a community of Spanish smallholders, more ethnically homogeneous and economically equal than other parts of Latin America.

Old History of Costa Rica

Autonomy

When Central America, together with Mexico, declared independence from Spain in 1821, there were almost 70,000 inhabitants in Costa Rica. After two years as part of the Mexican empire, the Central American states broke out and formed a federation. It fell apart in 1838, when, among other things, Costa Rica declared itself independent. The new republic received a first constitution in 1848.

When an American adventurer, William Walker, made an attempt to invade the country from the north in the 1850s, a hastily assembled peasant army forced him back. A young man named Juan Santamaría is said to have played a crucial role, and he eventually became the country's official national hero (the airport in the capital San José is named after him).

Democratic elections

At the beginning of the republic's existence, various factions fought for power by means of electoral fraud and sometimes even military violence. But as early as 1889, the first democratic elections were held.

Coffee beans had been introduced from Cuba in the early 19th century and coffee cultivation became the first basic industry in the economy. Bananas then began to be grown on the East Coast in the late 1870s and both crops soon became significant export products. The newly opened 1890 railroad between San José and Limón on the Atlantic coast increased trade.

The economic crisis that followed the First World War in 1917 resulted in a coup against the legally elected president. Military rule lasted just over two years before democracy was restored. Education initiatives led to a well-educated, politically conscious middle class emerging with demands for political and economic reforms.

 
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