Costa Rica was ‘discovered’ by the Spanish in the 16th century. The country of which the Spanish thought that it was rich (hence Costa Rica, ‘rich coast’), is situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. To the north is Nicaragua, south of Costa Rica is Panama. Coco Island also belongs to Costa Rica.
From the time the Spanish arrived till the Declaration of Independence in 1821 Costa Rica has been part of the independent Mexican Realm and the United States of Central America..In 1899 the First democratic elections took place. In 1948 there was a civil war after a controversial election outcome. That war was won by the left wing future president Figueres, who afterwards abolished the army and formed a new constitution. Since then Costa Rica has been safeguarded from the violence that harassed so many of its neighbors. It became one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America.
Throughout Costa Rica from north to south there is a mountain ridge that forms part of the Central American cordilleras. The highest point is Cerro Chirripó (3810 meters). In the country you can find extensive National Parks and Reserves (25% of the country is protected area). Many of these areas consist of tropical rainforest. There are also other types of nature in Costa Rica. The province of Guanacaste was originally covered with dry forests and grasslands, while mangrove forests are to be found in different places along the coasts. In the mountains you will find cloud forests.
The capital city of Costa Rica is San José, situated in the Central Valley.