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Costa Rica1

Nature volume 71, pages 461463 (16 March 1905) | Download Citation



UP to 1540, Spain had reserved for the crown that part of the territory of Veragua lying west of the portion which had been granted to the heirs of Columbus; but, in that year, it was erected into a province and called Costa Rica. It lies between Nicaragua and the newly hatched, but featherless, republic of Panama, and is the smallest State of the New World except Salvador. But it is one of the most interesting, for, with Panamá, it forms the connecting link between North and South America, not only physically but ethnologically. If more were known of its ancient inhabitants, their type, character, modes of life, habits and customs, inter-tribal relations and forms of worship, and of the ruins of ancient towns and burial places which are silently dotted over the country, one might go far towards a solution of many vexed problems as to the relation betwen early Mexican culture and that of the Andean peoples—Chibchas. of ancient Cundinamarca, the Quitos and Cañaris of Ecuador, the Quichuas and Aymaras of the Inga empire. Much of the data necessary to the formation of a just conclusion are buried on the slopes of the volcanoes of Turrialba, Irazu, Barba and Poas, and, in that richest of fields for archæological research, the district lying between Lake Nicaragua and the Gulf of Nicoya on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, while the lowlands lying between Nicaragua and the Atrato River of Colombia probably hide, under their densely matted and almost impenetrable vegetation, whatever evidences may exist of their occupation by man, not only in the far-remote past, but even at the date of the Spanish conquest.

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