Achieving Costa Rica Independence was one of the most important events in Costa Rica’s short history. Unlike many of their neighbors, however, the Ticos managed to do it without bloodshed or revolution. While this is certainly a blessing, it does not mean that it was a simple process. In fact, they had to win their freedom not once, but twice!
Freedom for Spain
Up to this point, most of continental America to the south of the United States was part of the Spanish empire. The wealth generated from the work of the Latin Americans largely benefited only the Kingdom of Spain. Costa Rica was no different, and it formed part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, a large territory which included the whole of Central America and Mexico.
Over time, the people of Latin America grew tired of this arrangement. The voices calling for change became louder and louder. It wasn’t until 1808, however, that Spanish America would get its chance to break free. In this year, the French general Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain and deposed their ruling family. This is where it all began. The whole of Latin America was in revolt against Spain and cries for independence were creating a domino effect across the continent. It gave the Latin Americans a chance to rebel and all across the region independence movements formed.
How Did Costa Rica Gain Independence?
It was a long and hard-fought struggle, but eventually most of the Spanish colonies broke free. As part of New Spain, it was the Mexican war which was most important for Costa Rica independence. Luckily for the Costa Ricans, the province was the most remote part of New Spain. The fighting did not affect them directly and they avoided the violence which plagued places like Mexico and Peru. On the 15th of September 1821, the whole of Central America officially broke free from Spanish rule and was independent for the first time in its history.
Thanks to its remoteness and the lack of technology at the time, the Ticos did not find out that they were independent until over a month later. The decision had been made in Guatemala and it took several weeks for the news to travel all the way down to Costa Rica. Nevertheless, when it finally did arrive, the news met with great celebration. Today the 15th of September is still celebrated as the day of Costa Rica independence. It shares this date with Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
Celebration of the Independence Day
Every year the country closes its businesses for the day to focus on patriotic celebrations. Each town and city has its only street party with parades forming the main focus of the festivities. Everywhere you look, you will see people in traditional dress, as well as folk music and Costa Rican culinary delicacies. A few days earlier a torch’s lit in Guatemala and makes its way down Central America. This is a re-enactment of how the news of independence made its way through the different countries, and it culminates on the 15th by reaching the Costa Rican city of Cartago. The highlight of the day is the raising of the flag and the singing of the national anthem, but afterwards the party continues late into the night.
- Other events:
200th anniversary of Independence day in Guatemala (September 15, 1821 – September 15, 2021)
200th anniversary of Independence day in Honduras (September 15, 1821 – September 15, 2021)
According to costarica.org.