|Capital city||Liberia (pop. 98,751)|
|• Total||10,141 km2 (3,915 sq mi)|
|• Density||32/km2 (84/sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||CR-G|
Guanacaste is a province of Costa Rica located in the northwestern part of the country, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. it borders Nicaragua to the north. To the east there is the Alajuela Province, and to the southeast is the Puntarenas Province. It is the most sparsely populated of all the provinces of Costa Rica. The province covers an area of 10,141 km2 (3,915 sq mi) and as of 2010, had a population of 326,953.
Before the Spanish arrived, this territory was inhabited by Chorotega Indians from the town of Zapati, Nacaome, Paro, Cangel, Nicopasaya, Pocosí, Diriá, Papagayo, Namiapí and Orosi. The Corobicies lived on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Nicoya and the Nahuas or Aztecan in the zone of Bagaces.
The first church was built out of grass in Nicoya in the 17th Century.
In the 18th Century some neighbors of Rivas established their houses and cattle farms in the northern part of the Nicoya Peninsula at crossroads that connected the towns of Bagaces, Nicoya and Rivas. The place was baptized after a famous Guanacaste tree that grows in the neighborhood.
In 1824-25 the territory of Guanacaste was annexed to Costa Rica. The inhabitants decided by their own will to be part of Costa Rica. The 25th of July 1824 the town people of Nicoya and Santa Cruz decided to join Costa Rica. In 1836 the town of Guanacaste was declared capital of Guanacaste province. In 1854 the town of Guanacaste was renamed Liberia.
The president of Nicaragua Daniel Ortega wants to reclaim Guanacaste and is quoted as saying he will not rule out seeking a ruling from the International Court of Justice in an effort to reclaim Guanacaste for Nicaragua.
The province is bounded on the east by a group of green-swathed volcanoes forming the Cordillera de Guanacaste (which features Orosi, Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles and Tenorio volcanoes) and the Cordillera de Tilaran. The rivers that tumble out of these steep mountains flow down to rolling flatlands, forming a vast alluvial plain drained by the Rio Tempisque, which empties through swampy wetlands into de Golfo de Nicoya. The Rio Tempisque defines one side of the horsehead-shaped Peninsula de Nicoya enclosing the gulf to the west.
Guanacaste's climate and culture are unique among Costa Rican provinces. The province experiences little rain and consistent heat from November to April, resulting in ubiquitous tropical dry forests as a natural adaption to the dry season conditions. Tourists seek out this dry heat during the North American winter to enjoy the Guanacastecan beaches. Irrigation of the agricultural land is necessary during the long dry period. From May to October, the climate is similar to that of San José, consisting of showers daily and moderate temperatures. Guanacaste is, however, considerably warmer than other provinces located in higher elevations.
Most of the population descends from a mix of Chorotega natives and Spaniards. As in Nicaragua and elsewhere in Costa Rica, Usted is the form of address used by Guanacastecans upon initial meetings and typically among adults. The vos verb-form is used mainly when adults address children, especially their own, and occasionally between adults who are family members or good friends.
The Chorotega culture and the Spanish culture have successfully integrated; among the main cultural elements are their music, literature (folklore), musical instruments, bullfighting, and religious events.
The province has an economic and cultural heritage based on beef cattle ranching. Most of the area is covered by small patches of forest, scattered trees and large pastures of coarse grasses where Brahman cattle and related breeds graze. Historically, the main source of income of Guanacaste was cattle ranching. Cattle ranching is declining in Guanacaste due to an international drop in the demand for beef. Many pastures are naturally reverting to dry forest or are being converted to tree plantations.
The other agricultural products of relative importance in the province are sugar cane and cotton, and since the late 1980s, with the creation of a large-scale irrigation program (the water comes from Lake Arenal after passing through several power generating stations), rice has become a prominent crop.
For the past two decades tourism has emerged as the new and growing activity in the local economy. The combination of beaches like Playas del Coco, Playa Tamarindo, and the sunny dry season that coincides with the winter months in northern latitudes have made tourism a key economic activity. A lot of tourists are also attracted by the abundance of natural beauty. The Province has no less than seven national parks like Santa Rosa, Guanacaste and Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
Guanacaste is subdivided into eleven cantons. The cantons (with their capitals in parentheses) are:
- Liberia (Liberia)
- Nicoya (Nicoya)
- Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz)
- Bagaces (Bagaces)
- Carrillo (Filadelfia)
- Cañas (Cañas)
- Abangares (Las Juntas)
- Tilarán (Tilarán)
- Nandayure (Carmona)
- La Cruz (La Cruz)
- Hojancha (Hojancha)
- Gulf of Nicoya
- Nicoya Peninsula
- Partido de Nicoya
- Independent Guanacaste Party
- Area de Conservación Guanacaste World Heritage Site
- Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN), 2009
- Resultados Generales Censo 2011 p. 22
- La Prensa La Prensa http://www.laprensa.com.0ni/213/08/21/ambito/159402-chinchilla-marchara-contra-ortega La Prensa
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- "Information,Art,Pictures and Opinions".
- Guanacaste, Costa Rica
- El Área de Conservación Guanacaste (Spanish)
- Conservation efforts and scientific work of biologist Daniel H. Hanzen in Guanacaste
- Costa Rica Guanacaste