The day was September 18, 1502, and Columbus was making his fourth and final voyage to the New World.
As he was setting anchor off shore, a crowd of local Carib Indians paddled out in canoes and greeted his crew warmly.
Only a few hundred thousand strong to begin with, none of these peoples lasted long after the dawn of Spanish colonialism.
Some fled, while many others perished from the deadly smallpox brought by the Spaniards.
Of all the Spanish colonies, Costa Rica enjoyed the least influence as a colony.
It was initially a tough and unpopular place to settle, with few valuable or easily exploited resources.
Later, the golden bands that the region's inhabitants wore in their noses and ears would inspire the Spaniard Gil Gonzalez Davila to name the country Costa Rica, or Rich Coast.
Archaeologists now know that civilization existed in Costa Rica for thousands of years before the arrival of Columbus, and evidence of human occupation in the region dates back 10,000 years.
A nation whose official language is Spanish, but where large portions of the populations speak English, Bribri, creole Mekatelyu, and Mandarin Chinese as their first languages.
A nation proud to be without an army (Costa Ricans disbanded their armed forces in 1949).