1502 – Christopher Columbus arrives in Costa Rica while looking for a passage to the Pacific Ocean.
1502-1800 – The Spanish find colonizing Costa Rica slow and frustrating. The Spanish did not find gold or large populations of people to exploit as slaves. They did encounter mountains, jungles, disease and hostile natives. Small groups of isolated Spanish settlements developed and took hold in the Central Valley. Costa Rica was so isolated it developed with very little influence from the Catholic Church and Spain.
1821-1824 – Central America declares its independence from Spain. After a few years of debate and a small civil war, Costa Rica declares its independence.
1824-1900 – Coffee becomes the main cash crop and coffee baron’s accumulate wealth and power. With the power came political turmoil but by 1900 Costa Rica had established a constitution, a controlled military and mandatory education.