There is evidence of people in Costa Rica that dates back to 5000 B.C., but the civilizations were small in number compared to other ones in the American continent, like the Aztecs, Mayans, or Incas. The first European explorer to encounter this small region was Christopher Columbus on September 18, 1502. He was making his fourth and final voyage to the New World. As his ship was anchored off shore, local Caribbean Indians paddled out in canoes and greeted him and his crew. Later, the golden bands that the region's inhabitants wore in their noses and ears would inspire the Spaniard Gil Gonzalez Davila to name the country Costa Rica, or Rich Coast. Actually, in Costa Rica, gold mining is still going strong in the southern department. The early hapless settlers who came to Costa Rica were left largely to their own devices, and the first successful establishment of a colonial city was not until 1562, when Juan Vasquez de Coronado founded Cartago, the country’s first capital. (it was later moved to its present day location of San Jose .
The year 1824 was when Costa Rica independence was established with the rise into power of the country’s first president, Juan Mora Fernández who was the one who made possible the reign of the coffee oligarchs who were later to dominate over the Costa Rican economy. President Mora repelled the attacks of would-be conqueror William Walker’s army, one of Costa Rica’s only international belic affairs in its history.
Costa Rica has been known for its dedication to culture and education. The army was abolished in 1948 after a bloody civil war which began when the population felt there had been electoral fraud. The victor was Jose Maria Figueres Ferrer who along with the elimination of the army nationalized banks and insurance companies and gave full citizenship and voting rights to women and people of African descent.
A timeline of Costa Rica events would hardly be interrupted by violent events. In all its history Costa Rica has been peaceful, and it has made this country into a blessed nation. Today, the Costa Rica capital is located in San Jose the virtual belly button of the country. This has led to certain social problems such as a huge centralization of services that the government has tried hard to bring all services to the most rural areas, but the internal migration still tends to go from rural areas to the city. Costa Rica is indeed a rich country, and you can ask any of those who have their hearts set on Costa Rica gold mining. They still pan gold on the southern rivers, an experience you can have if you visit Puerto Jimenez in the Osa Peninsula or Golfo Dulce. Browse through our history, government and information pages to learn more about Costa Rica and discover this wonderful country nestled in the crook of the America’s.