In 1821, the winds of independence had blown in from the north. The United States of America and Mexico had won their independence recently and in the capital of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, Guatemala City, protests broke out demanding independence. On September 15th, 1821 they declared their independence from the Spanish Empire. At the time, several present-day Mexican states and most of the Central American countries belonged to the Captaincy, so in order to send the news to all the states, a horse messenger was sent down through Central America.
Because Costa Rica was the southernmost province, it finally received the news of its independence on October 13th, 1821. The fact that not a single gunshot was fired to obtain its independence marked Costa Rica as a peace-loving nation. Among the independence documents received from Guatemala, there was a document prepared in Nicaragua. This document is called "Los Nublados del Dia" which means the "Clouds of the Day". In this document the Nicaraguan government, which was far more developed at the time and therefore closer to colonial rule, insisted that the states should not jump into independence and should wait for the "clouds of the day" to disperse before the states should make a final decision. However, because this document only reached Costa Rica, it had little effect.
After gaining independence, Costa Rica, along with the other provinces of the Captaincy, briefly joined the Mexican Empire of Agustín de Iturbide. But because of the distance to the Mexican capital and other underlying conflicts, the Central American states including Costa Rica became federal states of the United Provinces of Central America (see: History of Central America) from 1823 to 1839. In 1824, the capital moved to San José.
In 1838 Costa Rica proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent nation, under the rule of Braulio Carrillo Colina.
In 1856 the Costa Rican army, commanded by Juan Rafael Mora Porras expelled a filibuster invasion, commanded by William Walker. In the battles of Santa Rosa, Rivas and the San Juan campaign, the filibuster army was forced to give up their intentions. The national hero Juan Santamaría fought in the battle of Rivas where he set on fire the "Mesón" where the invaders had taken refuge.
During the 20th century Costa Rica has avoided the violence that has plagued Central America; it is seen as an example of political stability in the region. Since the late 19th century only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development.
In 1949, José Figueres Ferrer abolished the army; making Costa Rica the first country ever to operate within the democratic system without the assistance of a military (an example that was later followed by other nations such as Panama after the American invasion of 1989 to oust General Manuel Noriega). Costa Rica (Spanish for "Rich Coast"), was a largely agricultural country. However, during the last few decades, Costa Rica has achieved a relatively high standard of living. Electronics is a rapidly expanding industry, and along with tourism serves as the major industries of the country thanks to its social stability and rich natural environment.
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