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A nation whose official language is Spanish, but where large portions of the populations speak English, Bribri, creole Mekatelyu, and Mandarin Chinese as their first languages.A nation proud to be without an army (Costa Ricans disbanded their armed forces in 1949).
The Spanish were far more interested in developing their holdings in Mexico and Peru, where vast amounts of silver and gold were being obtained.
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.
Before you book your Costa Rica vacation, why not brush up on this handy list of facts?
The first European explorer to encounter Costa Rica was the Great Navigator himself, Christopher Columbus.
It was under Mora's leadership that Costa Rican volunteers managed to repulse a would-be conqueror, the North American William Walker.
Walker was a disgruntled southerner who thought that the United States should annex Central America and turn it into a slave state.Among the cultural mysteries left behind by the area's pre-Columbian inhabitants are thousands of perfectly spherical granite bolas that have been found near the west coast.The sizes of these inimitable relics range from that of a baseball to that of a Volkswagen bus.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.Archaeologists now know that civilization existed in Costa Rica for thousands of years before the arrival of Columbus, and evidence of human occupation in the region dates back 10,000 years.Regrettably, only 1 percent of Costa's Rica's 3 million people are of indigenous heritage.An overwhelming 98 percent of the country is white, and those of Spanish descent call themselves Ticos.When Mexico rebelled against Spain in 1821, Costa Rica and the rest of Central America followed suit.Two years later, a faction in Costa Rica even opted to become part of Mexico, sparking a civil war in the country's center between four neighboring cities.Only a few hundred thousand strong to begin with, none of these peoples lasted long after the dawn of Spanish colonialism.Some fled, while many others perished from the deadly smallpox brought by the Spaniards.