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Obverse of 1850 Countermarked British Sixpence
Obverse of 1850 Countermarked British Sixpence
Obverse of 1850 Countermarked British Sixpence
Reverse of 1850 Countermarked British Sixpence
A Brief History of Costa Rica

Pre-Spanish Times
Before the arrival of the Spanish, and for some time afterwards, the area compromising Costa Rica was home to various tribes of Mesoamericans, although in other areas, Andean and Caribean influences were shown that other parts of Costa Rica were inhabited by culturally distinct Amerindians.

Spanish Conquest
The Spanish arrived in the early 16th Century. For most of the colonial period, Costa Rica was a province of the Captaincy General of Guatamala, which was itself part of the Vice-Royalty of New Spain (Mexico). Lacking resources of its own, Costa Rica's name (meaning 'Rich Coast') was a bitterly ironic one, as it was one of the most impoverished provinces of the Spanish Empire, so poor in fact, that even the Spanish Governor of the region apparently had to farm his own crops and tend to his own garden because he couldn't afford servants.
In 1821, following Mexico's independence from Spain after an 11 year long struggle, Costa Rica became an autonomous province, although it considered allowing itself to be annexed by the new independent Mexican Empire, however, two years later, the Empire collapsed, and Costa Rica instead became a province of the new Federal Republic of Central America.

The Federal Republic consisted of modern day Guatamala, El Salvadore, Honduras and Nicaragua as well as Costa Rica (Panama would remain a part of Costa Rica until 1903). The new Federal Republic of Central America proved to be a very fractured and unstable country however, and in 1838, a Civil War broke out between Conservatives and Liberals fighting over centralisation vs federalism respectively (amongst other issues). The Federal Republic was dissolved 1840 and Costa Rica became an independent country.

William Walker
In 1854, an American adventurer called William Walker and a band of mercenaries took advantage of a civil war in neighbouring Nicaragua and seized control of the country, appointing himself as president, dreaming wickedly of building a large English-speaking Central American Empire based on slavery (he had revoked Nicaragua’s Emancipation Act as part of this policy). Fearing further conquest at Costa Rica's expense, the President of Costa Rica declared war against Walker's Nicaragua. After a three year struggle, Walker was defeated and fell from power. Some time later, in 1860, his continued scheming in Central America caught up with him, and he was captured by the Royal Navy, handed over to the Honduran authorities and executed by firing squad.

Later History
Costa Rica largely avoided the violence and corruption that plagued many other Hispanic republics in the Americas, apart from two periods, one of which took place in 1917-19, when Federico Tinoco seized power and ruled as a dictator before being forced to resign and go into exile when increasing opposition to his rule led to the assassination of his brother in August 1919.
There was one other period of violence, which took place in 1948, when a disputed presidential election result led to the 44 day Costa Rican Civil War. During this period the reputation of the military was forever tarnished by the atrocities it committed in an attempt to crush those opposing the government. The rebels, led by Jose Figueres, emerged triumphant from this struggle and Figueres was elected as president. Amongst his first acts was the abolition of the Costa Rican military, making Costa Rica one of the few countries not to have a military.

Today, Costa Rica is a stable democracy. The 2010 presidential election saw Laura Chinchilla elected as the first female president of Costa Rica. An economy based on foreign investment from western countries, most importantly the chip manufacturer Intel, has seen the growth of an economy that had previously been almost entirely dominated by cash crops (largely coffee).

Costa Rican Coins
As part of the Spanish Empire, the first coins used in Costa Rica were Spanish. The initial currency of Costa Rica, the Peso, was based on Spanish currency until 1864, when the Peso was decimalised and was divided into 100 Centavos instead of 8 Reales, as had previously been the case.
In 1896, the Peso was renamed the Colon, and the subdivision the Centimo. Inflation has since rendered the Centimo irrelevent, and the lowest denominated coin is the 5 Colon, which is regularly minted for circulation along with the 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 Colon pieces. Despite the 1896 name change, the Colon is still referred to colloquially as the Peso.

For Sale and Wanted
If you are interested in coins from Costa Rica please see our product index:-
Costa Rican Coins

Gold Coins
We also have gold coins from Costa Rica on our taxfreegold website:-
Costa Rican Gold Coins the Lowest Possible Price

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