A Brief History of the Annexation of Guanacaste
When the Spanish arrived in the New World, they formed a government and political organization for the region. The township of Nicoya was first established in 1554, and in 1787 was incorporated into the new Inspectorate of Leon, Nicaragua. In 1812, Spanish Colonial Cortez de Cadiz established the Province of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, which was later divided into seven parts – Costa Rica, El Realejo, Granada, León, Nicaragua (Rivas), Nicoya and Nueva Segovia – in 1820.
You may have heard that Guanacasted was annexed from Nicaragua, but that’s not exactly true. In 1821, Nicaragua and Costa Rica declared sovereignty from Spain. Nicaragua and Costa Rica established separate governments, and Nicoya bounced back and forth between authorities. In the 1820s, the Nicoya Party had strong economic ties to the port of Puntarenas, and cultural ties to Nicaragua.
In July 1824, Nicaragua was plunged into civil war. The effects never touched the residents of Nicoya, and when the state of Costa Rica extended an invitation to join their government, the Party of Nicoya declined. However, on July 25, 1824, the populations of Santa Cruz and Nicoya changed their tune and officially annexed to Costa Rica. In 1826, an act of the Federal Central American Congress added the rest of Guanacaste (Liberia) to the political entity of Costa Rica; prior to that act, Liberia had been a part of Nicaragua. The town of Guanacaste, today known as Liberia, gained official township in 1836; in 1848, the territory of Guanacaste was made a province. Today, Liberia is the capital of the province of Guanacaste.
How to Celebrate on July 25
You’ll find celebrations around Costa Rica, but nowhere is more festive than Guanacaste itself. Everywhere, from big towns (like Tamarindo and Liberia) to tiny pueblos, will take the day to eat, dance, sing and be merry. You’ll be treated to folk dancing, parades, typical bands, horse and cattle parades, and children’s presentations. The marimba, a typical instrument reminiscent of a wooden xylophone, also comes out to celebrate Guanacaste’s day.
Depending on your location, you may also witness Costa Rican bullfighting. In contrast to the traditional goal of bullfights, Costa Ricans do not kill the bull; rather, they tease the animal into chasing anyone foolish enough (or drunk enough) to enter the ring.
July 25 is also an excellent day for souvenir shopping and cultural tourism, as the streets fill up with open crafts markets, street stalls, and tasty street food. The evening is also ripe with tradition, as fireworks paint the sky and live concerts send melodic tunes into the breeze. Be sure to watch for men and women in typical dress (billowing skirts for ladies and neckerchief ties for men), who are experts in performing typical dances like the “Punto Guancasteco” and “Caballito Nicoyano.”