What Ancient Civilization Lived in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a country located in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. The country is known for its rich biodiversity, beautiful beaches, and extensive rainforests.

But did you know that Costa Rica was also home to several ancient civilizations? In this article, we’ll explore the history of the ancient civilizations that lived in Costa Rica.

The Pre-Columbian Era

Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1502, several indigenous groups inhabited Costa Rica. These groups were part of larger cultural regions that extended into present-day Nicaragua and Panama. The four main indigenous groups in Costa Rica were the Huetar, Chorotega, Guaymí, and Bribri.

The Huetar

The Huetar were one of the largest indigenous groups in Costa Rica and inhabited various regions across the country. They were known for their farming practices and lived in small villages led by a chief. The Huetar used stone tools for hunting and gathering and also used pottery for cooking.

The Chorotega

The Chorotega were another significant indigenous group in Costa Rica, primarily living in the northwestern region of the country. They were skilled potters and crafted various types of pottery for daily use. The Chorotega were also known for their impressive goldsmithing skills.

The Guaymí

The Guaymí were an indigenous group that lived primarily in southern Costa Rica and western Panama. They practiced agriculture using slash-and-burn techniques and lived in communal houses made from wood. The Guaymí also had a unique form of government with a council of elders making decisions for the community.

The Bribri

The Bribri are an indigenous group living primarily in southeastern Costa Rica near the border with Panama. They have a deep spiritual connection to nature and believe that all living things have a soul. The Bribri were skilled in agriculture, using a system of terraced farming to grow crops such as corn, beans, and squash.


Costa Rica is a country with rich cultural diversity, including the legacy of several ancient civilizations. These civilizations left behind impressive relics of their daily lives, including pottery, goldsmithing, and agricultural practices. Today, Costa Rica continues to honor these ancient cultures through various cultural events and museums dedicated to their history.