The History of Costa Rica

by Monica A. Rankin


Costa Rica is a travel destination for many visitors every year, among them large groups of ecotourists enticed by the nation's impressive biodiversity. In a region noted for military coups and uprisings, how has this welcoming Central American country maintained a historical reputation for stability and democracy? What sets it apart from its more volatile neighbors?

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Cover image for The History of Costa Rica

May 2012


Pages 200
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics World History/Politics and Government

Concise yet thorough, this engaging book provides an overview of the unique history of an increasingly important Central American nation.

The History of Costa Rica provides a thorough, straightforward narrative of a Central American country that has become increasingly more visible since the end of the 20th century. Written for students and the general reader, this book covers the nation from its pre-Colombian origins to the present day.

This chronologically organized volume documents the area's earliest inhabitants, then moves on through the colonial period, the process of nation-state formation in the 19th century, the volatile period of liberal reform, and the era of civil war and its aftermath. More recent times are also explored, including the role of Costa Rica in the Cold War, the peace process of the 1980s, and the development of the strong tourism industry that flourishes today. Among the prominent themes running through the book are the unique historical development of the country, the importance of its democratic tradition, and Costa Rica's role in a global context.


  • A chronology of important events from the pre-Columbian era to the present
  • Biographical entries of important personalities
  • A glossary of important terms
  • A bibliographic essay of contemporary works on Costa Rica


  • Offers a concise history that is accessible to the general reader
  • Outlines the unique nature of Costa Rica's history
  • Explains how this Central American nation built a strong democracy while its neighbors struggled with political instability
  • Focuses on many of the relatively recent events of the 20th and 21st centuries that affect tourists, students, and others who travel to Costa Rica
Series Description

The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations

Every school and public library should update its resources with these engagingly written and succinct narrative histories of the world's nations covering prehistoric times through today. Based on the most recent scholarship, each history provides a chronological narrative examining the political, cultural, philosophical, and religious continuities in the featured nation's long, rich history in an exploration of how its people came to be who they are today. Each volume includes a chronological narrative history, a timeline of events, biographical sketches of key figures, a glossary, and a bibliographic essay.
Author Info

Monica A. Rankin, PhD, a pioneer in Mexican diplomacy, gender, fashion, and identity in the 1940s, is assistant professor of history at the University of Texas, Dallas, TX. Rankin specializes in the history of Mexico, Latin America, and U.S.-Latin American relations. Her published works include ¡México, la patria!: Propaganda and Production during World War II and Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture: The Search for National Identity, 1820s–1900. She has also written several chapters and articles on various aspects of Mexican foreign policy, gender, and popular culture during World War II. Dr. Rankin's current research examines popular culture, gender, and nationalism in 20th-century Mexico, as well as issues of U.S.-Latin American relations in the 1940s.

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