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SunSep 15

Costa Rica Independence Day – September 15, 2024

Costa Rica Independence Day is celebrated on September 15 to mark the day Central America declared independence from Spain in 1821. Following the announcement, the country’s first constitution was readily accepted, and Costa Rica held its first elections. Juan Mora Fernández was the first elected Chief of State, and he worked hard to improve his country and promote industrial and commercial development. Every year, a symbolic independence torch is transported by runners from Guatemala to Costa Rica’s colonial capital of Cartago, east of San José, to reenact how news of the independence declaration spread throughout the country.

History of Costa Rica Independence Day

Costa Rica was under Spanish rule from 1563 to 1821. There were two groups of Spanish people during that time: ‘peninsulares’ (people from the Iberian Peninsula) and ‘criollos’ (Americans of Spanish origin). Mexico’s Independence from Spain in 1811, the revolutionary ideals of France, and Haitian independence in 1804 were all events that inspired Central American leaders to fight for independence from Spain. Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Spain in 1808 helped lead to the Spanish-American wars of independence and the collapse of Spanish control in Latin America.

In February 1821, Mexico issued a decree called ‘El Plan de Iguala.’ The Mexican plan declared Mexico’s independence from Spain, and the Southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca soon followed suit in declaring their independence. General Gaínza summoned an emergency meeting with Guatemala’s mayor and other political authorities. In this meeting, the mayor of Guatemala declared their Independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. Guatemalan authorities communicated their independence to the other Central American provinces by mail.

On October 25, 1821, Costa Rican authorities summoned representatives of other cities such as Alajuela, Heredia, and San José to discuss the country’s independence.  After a long, tiresome day of debate, Costa Rican authorities, the civilian population, the Costa Rican military, and clergy members finally decided on October 29, 1821, to declare Costa Rica’s independence from Spain. When Central American nations won their independence from Spain, they faced the problem of deciding their region’s future. After becoming part of Mexico for two years, Central America established its own Federal Republic.

Costa Rica’s elected Chief of State, José María Castro Madríz, declared that Costa Rica’s Independence Day would be celebrated every September 15 — just like the rest of Central America.

Costa Rica Independence Day timeline

September 15, 1821
Central America Declares Independence

Costa Rica and other Central American countries gain total independence from Spain.

October 13, 1821
The News is Delivered

Word of the declaration arrives in Costa Rica and spreads across the various ciities.

Costa Rica Withdraws

The country secedes from the Federal Republic of Central America.

Declaration Of Independence Day

Costa Rica's elected Chief of State, José María Castro Madríz, declares that Costa Rica's Independence Day will be celebrated every September 15, just like the rest of Central America.

Costa Rica Independence Day FAQs

What does Costa Rica mean in English?

According to some accounts, the term ‘la costa rica,’ Spanish for ‘rich coast,’ was first used by Christopher Columbus, who sailed to the eastern shores of Costa Rica during his final voyage in 1502.

What is Costa Rica famous for?

Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity makes it a popular destination for ecotourists who come to see its beaches, mountain ranges, volcanoes, and diverse wildlife. The country also exports bananas and coffee.

What language do they speak in Costa Rica?

Spanish is the official language, but English, Creola, and some other languages are also spoken.

Is the U.S. dollar accepted in Costa Rica?

Yes, tourists don’t need to change money before visiting as most places accept dollars.

Costa Rica Independence Day Activities

  1. Wear red, white, and blue

    Wear the colors of the national flag — or anything that has those colors on it! It's widespread for people to wear something red, white, and blue on their clothing or accessories. These colors are also used in local flags throughout the country.

  2. Go to local events

    Find out what local events are happening near you, or if there aren't any planned events, plan something fun together as a group. It doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate; do something that brings everyone together and makes everyone smile!

  3. Eat traditional foods

    Typical dishes include rice with beans, tamales, pasta with chicken, or meatballs 'tamalitos.' Many restaurants offer special menus during this period; ask your community group if they know any good spots nearby!

5 Facts About Costa Rica That Will Surprise You

  1. It's nature's playground

    Costa Rica offers a wide range of outdoor adventure activities, including surfing and white water rafting, as well as treetop adventures, like zip-lining in the rainforests.

  2. There are over 200 volcanic formations

    Costa Rica is part of the Ring of Fire and has over 200 volcanic formations.

  3. It's home to the Ostional Wildlife Reserve

    The Ostional Wildlife Reserve, established in 1984, protects millions of nesting olive ridley turtles and visitors are welcome.

  4. 28% of Costa Rica is under conservation

    Costa Rica is big on conservation; approximately 28% of the land is protected in national parks, reserves, and wildlife refuges.

  5. Over 500,000 species of wildlife

    Thanks to its long coastlines and diverse terrain, Costa Rica is home to a staggering 500,000 types of wildlife — many of which are rare or endangered.

Why We Love Costa Rica Independence Day

  1. It is a time to get together

    Independence Day is when families get together and celebrate the freedom they have been given. Families get together and have a picnic lunch or dinner. They hang flags around their houses and in their yards. They also watch fireworks at night, one of the most popular activities on Independence Day.

  2. It is a day to remember the past

    We learn from our past to make today better, and this is what Independence Day is all about, remembering the key events in history that led us to where we are now.

  3. It shows patriotism

    Celebrating Independence Day is a way for people to show their patriotism or love for their country. It is not surprising that Costa Ricans commemorate this holiday with such enthusiasm because they are proud of their country.

Costa Rica Independence Day dates

2024September 15Sunday
2025September 15Monday
2026September 15Tuesday
2027September 15Wednesday
2028September 15Friday

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