Pre-Columbian History & Colonization of Costa Rica
Costa Rican history dates back to about 10,000 BC, the pre-Columbian period when indigenous nations settled in fertile valleys and lived in the shadows of active volcanoes. In 1502, Christopher Columbus touched ground in Costa Rica, dubbing the colony a “rich coast” after accepting golden gifts from the natives. But Costa Rica had little gold and its true riches were more basic in nature: volcanic soil in which, as the locals say, even a stick can grow. By the mid-1800s, coffee had taken hold as the country’s most important export. Bananas would be the only challenge to coffee’s reign until the late 20th century, when tourism—and particularly ecotourism—ascended to the throne of Costa Rica’s most important industry. Below is the story of how Costa Rica came to be what it is today.