The small Central American nation is home to incredible biodiversity and rich cultures, a passion for freedom, and a history of democracy, equality, and education for all.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Parent: 11251 » Template: subcategory The happiest country in the world; a paradise for peace and biodiversity; a green beacon for environmental stewardship—Costa Rica is a country of many accolades.
But Costa Rica’s history and culture extend far beyond the reach of international recognition.