Costa Rican culture holds evidence of both the Mesoamerican and South American native origins.By the time Columbus arrived there were probably no more than 20,000 inhabitants. There were 4 major indigenous tribes living in Costa Rica, namely the Caribs, Borucas, Chibchas, and Diquis.  They lived in several autonomous tribes, all with distinct cultures and customs.

Like much of Latin America, colonization had a huge impact on the history of Costa Rica. However, the process was slow. It took nearly 60 years for Spanish settlers to make a strong hold of the country. Once the process started, the country suffered the effects of European invasion. The indigenous population did not have the sufficient numbers to resist the Spanish, and their populations dwindled quickly because of susceptibility to European diseases.

By 1821 Costa Rica was ready to join other Spanish colonies in a revolt and declare independence from Spain. From 1823 to 1839 Costa Rica was then a state in the Federal Republic of Central America.

An era of peaceful democracy in Costa Rica began in 1899 with elections considered the first truly free and honest ones in the country's history. This began a trend that continued until today.

There was however a short civil war in 1948 was the bloodiest event in 20th-century Costa Rican history, which was the bloodiest event in 20th-century Costa Rican history. However, the new government abolished the nation’s army, dedicating the country to democracy and the good of the people. Since then, Costa Rica has held 14 presidential elections, the latest in 2006.