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Little is known about the history of Jaco or Costa Rica prior to the arrival and exploration of the country by Christopher Columbus. Archaelogical excavation there has produced little, and no evidence of a written language has been found.
Columbus happened upon the area in 1502, but the inevitable influx of Europeans and disenfranchisement of the natives did not occur for almot 60 years. When they did, gold was the motivator. In fact, Columbus' name for the area - Costa Rica - means, "the rich coast." Vulnerability to European-borne diseases and the natives' lack of numbers in the face of high-volume European infiltration led to their decimation despite fierce resistance.
The introduction of coffee to Costa Rica in the early 1800s led to the development of political structure and, eventually, to independence for the inhabitants. Under the presidency of Juan Rafael Mora, a former coffee grower, the country grew both economically and socially. Ensuing years of years of struggle between wealthy Spanish coffee growers and local political powers served, in the end, to unify the people and, in 1821, the country declared independence from Spain.
In 1949, war broke out briefly when opposing factions battled over the presidency, but was quelled within weeks. Under the new president, Costa Rica saw the vote given to women and blacks, and the dismantlement of the country's armed forces, making it a model for all peace-loving nations.