February 16, 2013

"Costa Rica was described as 'the poorest and most miserable Spanish colony in all America' by a Spanish governor in 1719."

This occurred because Costa Rica was all the way south in the Captaincy General of Guatemala and forbidden to trade with the Viceroyalty of New Granada (to its south), and it lacked gold and silver and an indigenous population to do forced labor. In the long run — if I am to believe the presentation on the Wikipedia "History of Costa Rica" page — this all worked out for the best:
... Costa Rica was by and large unappreciated and overlooked by the Spanish Crown and left to develop on its own. The small landowners' relative poverty, the lack of a large indigenous labor force, the population's ethnic and linguistic homogeneity, and Costa Rica's isolation from the Spanish colonial centers in Mexico and the Andes all contributed to the development of an autonomous and individualistic agrarian society. Even the Governor had to farm his own crops and tend to his own garden due to the poverty that he lived in. An egalitarian tradition also arose. Costa Rica became a "rural democracy" with no oppressed mestizo or indigenous class.
(In the "History of" project on this blog, we're going through the Wikipedia "History of" pages for all the 206 countries in the world, in alphabetical order.) 

32 comments:

Inga said...

Costa Rica is doing extremely well for itself in the adventure tourist trade. My daughter and son in law honeymooned there, they loved it. Just enough of "roughing it ", mixed with the amenities of civilization just down the road. Little chirping green lizards, no extra cost.

SteveR said...

I've spent some time there and they are distinct from other parts of Latin America and very aware of why that is. They take pride in that isolation and how it shaped their government and culture. I like them. Good coffee

hombre said...

We've already escaped the decline of America once to Australasia. The Senora and I are going to CR in March to check it out.

Australasia is too far from kids and grandkids. We would like for them to be able to join us after Oblahblah and his consorts have run the US into the ground.

It's running on bluster, bullshit and momentum now.

ironrailsironweights said...

There is only one recorded case of snowfall in Costa Rica in the last 100+ years. In 1974 some wet snow fell on the 12,500-foot summit of Cerro Chirripo.

Peter

traditionalguy said...

Nice trick. They were too poor to tempt the Monarch's of Europe to waste time making them colonial provinces of slave labor and rob them of their land and treasures.

Let's hope Google earth doesn't expose them as a tempting morsel for the UN Criminal Bureaucracies which are the successors to the old Roman Empire become Monarchies.

edutcher said...

A lot of American retirees down there, to the point that the currency is the US dollar.

Mitch H. said...

Costa Rica became a "rural democracy" with no oppressed mestizo or indigenous class.

... because the locals were wiped out by disease and (presumably) attempts at exploitation. Kind of like the Bahamas and the Antilles, with the absence of any useful cash crop worth the expense of import of African slaves. I seem to remember that it's a nasty lee coast on the Caribbean side, as well, which means that it didn't attract freebooters and pirates looking to prey on the Veracruz and Cartegena trade.

Chip Ahoy said...

Then why was it named Costa Rica instead of Costa Pobre, irony?

furious_a said...

The lack of indigenes to exploit and enslave, which ensured no permanent rural underclass (e.g. Chiapas and Ayacucho) was bequeathed to the future, also informs the trajectories of countries like Chile and (Peronism aside) Argentina.

betamax3000 said...

Wait until the Germans get a hold of it.

betamax3000 said...

It is always the same: the Indigo Peoples are exploited for their Ink.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

May I recommend this book for those interested retiring in Costa Rica

Rick Lee said...

I love Costa Rica. The friendliest people on Earth... they love their democracy. Most people live on the high central plateau where San Jose (the capital) is. It's near the equator, but the altitude is such that the temperature hovers around 75F all year. No need for heating and a/c in the home. I recall telling some folks that we were going to beach for the day... "Ughh... what you want to go down there for? So hot!"

Juan Pablo said...

I left my heart in Costa Rica.

What struck me during my visit there was the people's love for their country. Proud without being fanatics about it. That and their warmth for people from other countries. I felt welcome in everyplace I visited.
I spent New Year's in the beach, around a palm tree bunfire surrounded by so many from different places. I felt in love with that place... And I should've stayed and continue my life there when she asked me to.

ironrailsironweights said...

Several years and several jobs ago I worked with a woman who originally was from the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. She was black, had an English name, was English-speaking with an accent similar to a Jamaican's, and considered herself Caribbean rather than Latin American.

Peter

Michael said...

Spent some time there in the early 1970s before any development in Guanacaste. Met Donald Nixon, who worked for Robert Vesco who had fled there with an airplane and a few hundred million of other people's money. Shot pigeons sitting on the hood of a Rolls Royce with some rich guys from the capital. Tres de Junios. Pan American Hwy. A few thousand gringos there in those days reading the Tico Times published daily in English.

Splendid country now teeming with gringos.

Michael said...

Spent some time there in the early 1970s before any development in Guanacaste. Met Donald Nixon, who worked for Robert Vesco who had fled there with an airplane and a few hundred million of other people's money. Shot pigeons sitting on the hood of a Rolls Royce with some rich guys from the capital. Tres de Junios. Pan American Hwy. A few thousand gringos there in those days reading the Tico Times published daily in English.

Splendid country now teeming with gringos.

Ignacio said...

I seem to remember that they've never had an army. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Surfed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Godfather said...

When I was in college in the '60's, the former president of Costa Rica, Jose Figueres, was a guest lecturer. I remember his describing the successful effort by his group to overthrow the dictatorial government then in power (the government may have been a military junta, I'm not sure, but if so, they got rid of the military as soon as they took over). The overthrow had to be delayed by a week or two, because the shipment to the rebels of a case or two of .45 caliber ammunition was delayed. They needed the ammunition for their M. 1911 pistols and Tommy guns.

Surfed said...

I've been going to Costa Rica to surf since the early '70's. We'd tuck our long hair under baseball caps to cross the borders (Centro American border guards took a dim view of American hippie surfers) and drive down from Florida in our VW camper vans to surf the unknown spots in Guanacaste, etc. Was down there during Iran-Contra and the secret war. Hung out at Noogies in Tamarindo and was mistaken for a "Company" man. I have mid 80's stories that I'll never tell anywhere except around a small quiet table and then with a look over my shoulder. Now it's a tourista place and being written about on Althouse blogspot. Ahhhh the days of me youth. Caught some killer waves though before the masses descended.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

I like this series. It's good to teach people about geography and history.

So when does the math series begin?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Nice pictures, Rick. Especially of Malta.

chickelit said...

O Ritmo Segundo said...
I like this series. It's good to teach people about geography and history.

I'd like to segundo that motion.

dbp said...

I wonder if the name Costa Rica was done for reasons along the same lines as Greenland--give it a nice sounding name so people with go there instead of someplace harsh sounding like Iceland.

I had a college room mate that was half Costa Rican and half Scottish, he grew up mostly in Costa Rica and was fluent in Spanish. He had hispanic features but was big, like a football player and had blond hair. Christopher Robin Flores.

Michael said...

Surfed. I was north of Tamarindo on the Golfo de Papagayo, Bahia Culebra. Fished off the Bat Islands. Too close to Nicaragua for comfort. In those days Costa Rica was totally intolerant of marijuana and there were harsh penalties for possession. Nice country to visit and nice people but not a good country to be in a jail. We kept our hair short.

You will remember the wonderful tradition of cars and trucks turning their lights out at night before a mountain curve. Why? So they could see the lights of oncoming cars. This logic coupled with machismo led to the plethora of crosses at every mountain curve. God, I love Central America.

Rick Lee said...

Yes, the Costa Ricans like to brag that they don't have an army, but some of their police force wear fatigues and carry assault rifles.

betamax3000 said...

I noticed we are at "Co____" -- we must've skipped by Chappaquiddick.

I was looking forward to reading about their Navy.

The Godfather said...

The Chappaquiddick Navy is all submarines.

Greg Piper said...

It sounds like the Switzerland of Latin America! My gal and I went in 2008 and were blown away by the beauty, the friendliness, the wonderful coffee (we went to a real coop, and I still hear from a cafe owner occasionally on Facebook)... they've got a good thing going, and they know it. Pura vida, in my heart, always.

Jose_K said...

They defeated an american invader. They have no army. And a well functioning democracy

Jose_K said...

The army was disbanded after a coup in 1948