Native Costa Ricans

Intrigued by the customs, beliefs, and all the other thinkable characteristics of a new culture is just fascinating. A country that I have visited and would go back time and time again, maybe even live there, is Costa Rica. What I wish to learn and inform people about is how small the indigenous people of Costa Rica, “Native Costa Ricans”, make up of the total population. Native Costa Ricans make up around 1.7% or 63,976 of the people who live in Costa Rica. There are 24 indigenous territories for the Native Costa Ricans to live upon, to try and keep their cultural traditions alive.

Groups of Native Costa Ricans are spread out among their country. Such groups are the Boruca, Bribri, Cabecar, Guaymi, Huetar, Maleku, Matambu, and the Terraba all small groups of the indigenous people. What each of these groups have in common is the decline of their native culture, a strive to keep their land, and a dramatic decline in their indigenous languages. Each group has different characteristics that help distinguish them from one another. Such as the Boruca are known for their festival “Fiesta de los Diablos”, lasting three days, depicting the fight between the native people versus the Spanish. The Bribri is the second largest group of Native Costa Ricans, with a large political vote holding and their traditions where the women prepare the Cacao drink for cultural ceremonies, women dominate culture where only women can even touch and prepare the ritual drink. The Cabecar is the largest group of indigenous people and is very secluded from the rest of Costs Rica, living in the Chirripo Mountains they maintain the highest percentage of speaking their ancestral language. The Guaymi and Huetar are smaller groups that are more immersed into modern day Costa Rica. The Maleku have lost a large majority of their land and cannot live in their cultural homes due to the trees used are on the endangered species list. Matambu translates to “The Fleeing People” because they originally migrated from where the Mayans used to be to escape the Mayan people. This group was particularly known for being a militaristic group that was known for fighting the Spanish.  The Terraba are in the same decline state as the Maleku, their cultural language is only spoken by their elders and their lands have seen heavy deforestation.

These groups of Native Costa Ricans hold a large portion of their countries original cultural heritage and would be fascinating to visit and experience how these group live. From when I visited Costa Rica I have been in love with the cultural experience that I had and know that this was only a small portion of what there is waiting for me. The Boruca festival of “Fiesta de los Diablos” would be an exciting experience depicting what their history has been like. The Maleku are one of the largest tourist groups in Costa Rica, performing musical pieces in nearby city of La Fortuna that depict their culture. The Cabecar would be the hardest and possible the greatest to visit due to the 4-5 hour hike by foot that is needed before even reaching their first village. Walking the same trails that the Cabecar have walked and meeting with some of the families of the Cabecar and eating with them.

Map of Costa Rica Link        Map of Native Costa Rican Territories

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