Costa Rica History Timeline

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Costa Rica History Timeline

Christopher Columbus, on his fourth and final voyage to the New World, lands at Isla Uvita.
Christopher Columbus, on his fourth and final voyage to the New World, lands at Isla Uvita.

3,000,000 BC – As volcanoes continue to erupt, the space between the islands fill in and eventually form an unbroken land bridge between North and South America.

2000 BC – Evidence is found that people were living in Central America at this time.

700-500 BC – The perfectly formed granite spheres are traced back to this time.

1502 – Christopher Columbus, on his fourth and final voyage to the New World, lands at Isla Uvita, a small island off the coast near present day Limón.

1510 – Palacios Rubios writes the Requerimiento, in name of King Ferdinand of Spain. This document legalizes the colonization of America.

1524 – Franciso Fernández de Córdova founds the first Spanish settlement on the Pacific, near what is now Puntarenas. Everyone dies within three year.

1540 – Costa Rica becomes part of the vice-royalty of New Spain. Throughout the colonial period, Costa Rica remained one of the provinces ruled by the Spanish viceroyalty in Guatemala (along with the provinces of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua).

1561 – Spain’s Juan de Cavallon leads the first successful colonizers into Costa Rica’s Central Valley.

1562 – Juan Vásquez de Coronado brings more men and supplies to help the failing settlement. He treats natives with more respect and restrains the use of violence.

1568 – The Spanish start a program of resettling the Indians in a reaction to increased rebellion by the Indian population. Indians end up in servitude to landowners.

1600’s – Costa Rica begins to produce enough to be able to export to neighboring countries.

1723 – Irazú erupts and buries Cartago.

1808 – Coffee is introduced into Costa Rica from Cuba and soon becomes the principal crop.

1821 – On September 15th, Costa Rica, with the rest of Central America, gains independence from Spain.

1823 – Costa Rica joins the United Provinces of Central America, which also includes El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

1824 – Juan Mora Fernandez is elected head of state.

1838 – Costa Rica becomes fully independent under Braulio Carrillo Colina.

1848 – Jose Maria Castro Madriz formally declares Costa Rica an independent and sovereign republic.

1849 – Coffee barons force Jose Maria Castro Madriz to resign.
William Walker's plans derailed at the Battle of Santa Rosa
William Walker's plans derailed at the Battle of Santa Rosa

1849 – Juan Rafael Mora Porras is president from 1849 to 1859.

1850’s – Coffee makes up 90% of the nation’s exports.

1856 – Battle of Santa Rosa; Costa Ricans defeat the United States, which backed proslavery advocate William Walker.

1871 – The Constitution is enacted; it will stay in force until 1948.

1870’s – First banana plantations are established.

1870-82 – Under the leadership of Tomas Guardia, Costa Rica encourages foreign investment in railways.

1882 - The death penalty is abolished.

1888 – Illiteracy is 80%. There are approximately 250,000 inhabitants according to the census.

1889 – First election is won by an opposition party and will become known as the first honest election with popular participation, establishing democratic process in Costa Rica.

1890 – The Costa Rica railroad from San Jose to Limon is finished. It was built, owned and controlled by Minor Keith the soon to be, banana baron.

1899 – The United Fruit Company is founded by Minor Keith.

1940-44 – President Rafael Angel Calderon Guradia, founder of the United Christian Socialist Party (PUSC), introduces a health and social security system, including recognition of workers’ rights and minimum wages.

1948 – After aborted revolution and short civil war, the Costa Rican army is abolished.

1949 - New constitution gives women and blacks the right to vote.

1950 – Life expectancy is 56 years. Illiteracy is 21%.

1954 – The government signs new contracts with the United Fruit Company calling for the construction of schools and hospitals, the eradication of malaria and the implementation of social security laws.

1955 – The United Fruit Company owns 500,000 acres of land in Limon and Golfito.

1958-73 – Costa Rica is governed by mainly conservative administrations.

1960 – The Central American Common Market is set up by a treaty between El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and later Costa Rica. It falls apart by the end of the decade.

1963Irazu volcano erupts after being dormant for 20 years.

1968 – Volcan Arenal in La Fortuna erupts after 450 years of inactivity and kills nearly 80 people.

1974 – Daniel Oduber (PLN) elected president and pursues socialist policies.

The earthquake of 1991 devastated the port city of Limon on the Caribbean Coast.
The earthquake of 1991 devastated the port city of Limon on the Caribbean Coast.

1978 – Rodrigo Carazo, a conservative, is elected president amid a sharp deterioration in the economy.

1982 – Luis Alberto Monge (PLN) elected president and introduces harsh programs. Meanwhile, Costa Rica comes under pressure from the US to weigh in against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

1985 – US trained anti-guerrilla forces begin operating following clashes with Sandinista troops.

1986 – Oscar Arias Sanchez (PLN) is elected president.

1987 – Leaders of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras sign peace plan devised by Oscar Arias Sanchez, who in turn wins the Nobel Peace Prize for the plan.

1990 – Rafael Caldron, of the centrist PUSC is elected president.

1991 – A serious earthquake severely damages buildings, roads, and coral reefs along the Atlantic zone of the country. The earthquake kills 27 people, injures 400, and leaves 13,000 homeless in the Limon province.

1994 - Jose Maria Figueres Olsen (PLN) elected president.

1998 - Miguel Angel Rodriguez (PUSC) elected president.

2000 - President Rodriguez and his Nicaraguan counterpart resolve long-standing dispute over navigation along San Juan River, which serves as their border.

2002 - Abel Pacheco of the ruling Social Christian Unity Party wins a comfortable 58% of the vote in the second round of presidential elections.

2004 - Mounting concern over corruption as three former presidents - Jose Maria Figueres, Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Rafael Angel Calderon – are investigated over contractor payments.

2006 – Former Nobel Peace Prize winner, Oscar Arias Sanchez is elected president again by a very narrow margin.

2007 - Government says Costa Rica on course to become the fi first voluntarily 'carbon neutral' country.

2007 - Costa Rica switches diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China in a bid to attract Chinese investment.

2007 - National referendum narrowly decides in favor of ratifying the Central American Free Trade Agreement (Cafta).


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