Costa Rica Independence Day is celebrated on September 15, marking the end of Spanish rule over Central America in 1821. This date was chosen because the news reached Costa Rica’s people a month after Central American leaders declared their independence. Costa Rica Independence Day has been declared an official national holiday in the country and is celebrated with joy and fun activities. There are many public events taking place all around the country, organized by the Costa Rican government, political parties, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, and social groups.
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
'El Plan de Iguala' declares Mexico's independence from Spain.
Guatemalan authorities declare their independence.
Costa Rican authorities summons representatives of other cities such as Alajuela, Heredia, and San José to discuss the country's independence.
After a grueling day of debate, Costa Rican authorities, the civilian population, the Costa Rican military, and clergy members finally decides to declare Costa Rica's independence from Spain.
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 is Costa Rica famous for?
Costa Rica is known for its incredible scenery and wildlife.
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
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.
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!
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
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.
There are over 200 volcanic formations
Costa Rica is part of the Ring of Fire and has over 200 volcanic formations.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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