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Early Colonial History in Brief

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Home / Preface
5 - Costa Rica in Brief
6 - Map of Costa Rica
8 - Symbols of Costa Rica
9 - Introduction
12 - Getting a Bird's Eye View
14 - Why Choose Costa Rica?
18 - Costa Rica Has Many Firsts to its Name
22 - A Place That Accepts All Races
30 - The Friendliness of the Costa Ricans
33 - Ticos are Individualistic
35 - Ticos Are Different and Procrastinators
38 - Why Others Have Gone Abroad
42 - Specific Reasons for Leaving Home
45 - Culture Shock
48 - Enjoy Your Retirement by Adjusting
49 - Ways to Adjust to Your New Life
56 - Making Your Stay More Satifying
58 - Cost of Living
67 - Addresses and Directions
69 - Your Car and Driving
71 - How Not to Be Obnoxious to Locals
74 - Adjusting to the Weather and Climate
76 - Choosing the Right Climate for You
77 - City Living versus Country Living
79 - Where to Live in Costa Rica
82 - Living in Your American Style
84 - Top Quality Health Services
87 - Medical Centers in San José
89 - Dying in Costa Rica
91 - Security and Safety in Costa Rica
94 - Personal Experiences of Petty Thievery
98 - Sex and Romance
101 - Going into Business Yourself
105 - Expatriates Production Enterprises
110 - Expatriates Service Businesses
114 - The Business Environment
120 - Helpful Tips for the Newcomer
125 - National Holidays and Festivities
128 - Religion, Churches & Support Groups
131 - The Optimism and Health Link
133 - The 8 Point Formula for Anti-Aging
134 - Obtaining Insurance
136 - Early Colonial History in Brief
139 - English Language & Tico Expressions
144 - Misdemeanors That Are Now Felonies
146 - Closing Words
148 - Bibliography
149 - For More Information and Contacts
151 - Appendix
155 - Index

The Colonists Turned to Farming to Keep Alive and Prosper

The Spanish colonists soon found that growing cacao for export to Spain would bring them badly needed income so started farms in the Matina River area near Limon where climatic conditions were ideal for that crop. Worked by Indian slaves, the colonists from Cartago began to make small fortunes as they exported their crop to Spain through Portobello in Panama and then Cartagena, Colombia. Soon, however, British pirates began to enter the river, plunder the plantations and take the entire harvests.

Having made money from cacao, the colonists decided they would be better off if they forgot about that crop and instead started growing tobacco. The time was perfect for this endeavour since there was a big demand in Spain for tobacco and Guatemala had just then reduced substantially its plantings of that crop. They chose the Puriscal area in the Occidental Central Valley for climatic reasons and for many years this cash crop produced high earnings for them until coffee growing for export began to take impetus in the early 1800s.

Both tobacco and coffee travelled to the port of Puntarenas on mule-back with only trails existing. Later, when coffee became predominant in the early 1840s, the Carretera Nacional (national road) was made to allow convoys of hundreds of oxcarts to make the trip to shipside.

Coffee Produced Wealth

According to Guillermo Echeverría Morales, the first coffee beans for seed arrived in Costa Rica in 1791 from Panama. A second version is that in 1808 governor don Tomás de Acosta introduced some seeds bought from Mosquite Indians along the Caribbean coast and gave them to wealthy families in Cartago. The first coffee plants were used as ornamentals in those families' private gardens. During March and April the plants bore beautiful white blossoms which in December became brilliant red beans.

They did so well with the first coffee beans exported to Colombia that 3 years later they started sending to Chile for re-export to England. By 1830, coffee had become the main agricultural crop and maintained that important position until the 1980s when it was overtaken by banana production. No wonder president Ricardo Jimenez, during his 3 administrations, frequently said that "the best minister of finance we can have is a good coffee harvest".


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