July 25th, a Nicoya Peninsula and Costa Rican holiday, what s it about?

Because some of the reasons may be forgotten during the festivities, we’d like to remind you of specific facts about this significant Costa Rica holiday that celebrates the annexation of the fantastic Nicoya Peninsula.


Costa Rica Partido de Nicoya

Nicoya’s Origin

Guanacaste Day is observed yearly on July 25 in Costa Rica. The festival marks the annexation of Nicoya from Nicaragua by Costa Rica in 1824.

The term “Nicoya” appears to have sprung from the cacique Nicoa, in the Nahuatl language of the Aztec Nahua people who migrated south from the territory of today’s Mexico.

The Territory of Nicoya’s History

Nicoya’s original area included terrain between the La Flor River and Lake Nicaragua to the northeast, the Gulf of Nicoya, the Tempisque River, the Salto River, and a portion of the Desaguadero River to the south.

The autonomous Nicoya Territory merged with Costa Rica in 1820 to form a significant enough population to send a delegate to the Cádiz Cortes in Spain. Florencio del Castillo, a Costa Rican politician and Presbyterian, was chosen.

The Spanish Constitution of 1812 partitioned the Kingdom of Guatemala into several provinces. One of those domains, which is now part of Guanacaste, was Nicoya. When Central America proclaimed independence from Spain in 1821, political issues arose that caused the provinces, or regions, to be divided.

Internal troubles in Nicaragua plagued the state, and the Nicoyans were treated with suspicion. Residents of Nicoya were more strongly connected with Costa Rica due to these relationships, especially given Nicoya’s closeness to the Costa Rican communities of Puntarenas, Esparza, Bagaces, and Cañas.

One month after gaining independence, Costa Rica formed its legal structure through the Concordia Pact, a provisional constitution. The country’s first constitution was later enacted, and Juan Mora Fernández became the country’s first head of state.

Costa Rica benefited at the time from an environment of stability and political security, a competent administration of justice, pre-existing commercial links with Nicoya, and rich and productive land and climate.

The Process of Annexation

Because of this close connection, the Costa Rican government formally asked Nicoya inhabitants to join the country through Cupertino Briceo, the first Nicoya mayor. Costa Rica was not yet a republic at the time. Therefore lawmakers presented a formal appeal to Guatemala’s General Congress, complete with all appropriate paperwork and signatures.

Because of Nicoya’s position, locals said, it would be easier to join Costa Rica than to maintain the link with Guatemala, which was considerably further north.

Costa Rica’s annexation of Nicoya became official on July 25, 1824. The land was formally recognized as a Costa Rican province in 1848, with four cantons: Nicoya, Santa Cruz, Bagaces, and Cañas. Guanacaste now comprises 11 cantons.

Guanacaste’s Name Origin

The province of Guanacaste gets its name from a big tree that once stood in the vicinity of today’s central park in Liberia, the province’s capital. Guanacaste is derived from the Nahuatl languages of Quaiti (tree) and Nacaztli (ear).

Advantages of Annexation

Guanacaste is now a major producer of rice, sugar cane, sorghum, and other commodities. Many local farms also grow livestock. It has earned the moniker “Gold Coast of Central America” as one of Costa Rica’s most prominent tourist attractions.

Guanacaste’s population has continued to expand after annexation, becoming an essential economic pillar in the country. Guanacaste’s cultural contributions, such as Tico delicacies like tortillas and bizcochos, and little, crunchy donut-like pastries, enrich Costa Rican culture.


Guanacaste folkloric music has profoundly affected Costa Rican music, including songs such as “El Torito,” “Pasión,” “Amor de Temporada,” “Luna Liberiana,” and “Pampa.”

Quijongs (a stringed bow and gourd), tambores (drums), ocarinas (little ceramic flutes), marimbas, and other popular instruments are made in the region. Guanacaste also created a plethora of intriguing myths and folklore. Guanacaste is, without a doubt, “part of the motherland by choice,” as the standard term goes.


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