The first natives in Costa Rica were hunters and gatherers, and Costa Rica served as an "Intermediate Region" between Mesoamerican and Andean native cultures.
In 1502, Christopher Columbus made landfall in Costa Rica. Soon after, his forces overcame the indigenous people. He incorporated the territory into the Captaincy General of Guatemala as a province of New Spain in 1524. For the next 300 years, Costa Rica was a colony of Spain. As a result, Costa Rica's culture has been greatly influenced by the culture of Spain.
Following the Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821), Costa Rica became part of the independent Mexican Empire in 1821. Subsequently, Costa Rica was part of the Federal Republic of Central America in 1823, before gaining full independence in 1838. Its economy struggled due to lack of connections with European suppliers. In 1856, Costa Rica resisted American settlers from mounting a take-over of the government.
After 1869, Costa Rica established a democratic government.
After the Costa Rican Civil War in 1948, the government drafted a new constitution, guaranteeing universal suffrage and the dismantling of the military. Today, Costa Rica is a democracy that relies on technology and eco-tourism for its economy. Although poverty has declined since the turn of the 21st century, economic problems still exist. Costa Rica is facing problems of underemployment, foreign and internal debt, and a trade deficiency.