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, in what was his last trip to the Americas, Christopher Columbus touched ground in Costa Rica, and from this encounter, the colony was dubbed a “rich coast.” Tradition dictates that the riches referred to in the name were not gold or silver, but the natural beauty of the area.  In addition, Costa Rica had something more valuable than precious gems: a nutritious 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.

Pre-Columbian Period

Although indigenous tribes have lived in what is now known as Costa Rica for thousands of years, the country’s pre-Columbian period was perhaps one of the most formative. Evidence of the country’s rich blend of cultures and history is everywhere in Costa Rica, from the priceless relics housed in the museums of San Jose to the dialects of the tribes that still inhabit much of the country.
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