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Visit Monteverde

History and Culture Monteverde

Monteverde is a small town found in the Cordillera de Tilarán, about four hours drive away from the Central Valley containing the country's capital, San José. It is a popular tourist destination both due to the natural beauty of the area and the prominence of ecotourism in the area, mostly surrounding the Monteverde Cloud Reserve attracting people interested in nature and specifically its conservation.

Ancient History

Native Americans

Ancient artifacts found in the area point towards tribes of Clovis Native Americans who inhabited the area as early as 3000 BC. Between 500BC and 300 AD there was a large increase in the amount of agriculture in the area with chiefdom societies taking over the original tribal inhabitants. A lot of deforestation took place to make way for crops and construction and horticulture in the region took off. Objects made of jade that have since been found dating back to this era seem to have been a prominent feature in most of the villages. Slowly more separate, distinct and intricate villages began to emerge, each with individual characters and facilities such as cemeteries, central squares and gold workshops.

In the 1300s the area of Monteverde suffered a population decline due to the fear of volcanic activity in the nearby volcanoes and then when the Spanish arrived in 1502 the indigenous population suffered further still, decreasing from nearly 5000,000 to about 80,000 people. However, believe it or not, what was suffered by Costa Rica under the Spaniards is relatively mild compared to the pilfering carried out in other countries as Costa Rica was strangely not considered to have as plentiful a gold supply as other places.

Modern Monteverde

At the beginning of the 20th Century, settlers began to move back into the area, but it was in 1950 that Monteverde saw its biggest influx of people. Quakers from North America who had been shunned due to their peaceful stance and therefore refusal to take part in the Korean War, chose Monteverde as their new home. They picked it out mainly for its suitability to dairy farming, their principal trade. They got along well with the local people and began to farm a large piece of land which they then set aside for conservation. It is now more popularly known as the Cloud Forest Reserve and is one of Costa Rica's principal tourist attractions.


In 2005 Monteverde hit the headlines for something other than tranquil pastures filled with dairy farms. Four men from Nicaragua and a Costa Rican accomplice held 33 people hostage in the Banco Nacional which resulted in the loss of seven lives and numerous injuries. This is one of the bloodiest and lamented events of Costa Rican modern history which, although undoubtedly tragic, demonstrates how this is not a country used to violence and bloodshed. Modern day Monteverde plays host to around 250,000 tourists each year and the cloud forest was recently voted one of the seven wonders of Costa Rica by the Costa Ricans themselves. It is now a mix of modern facilities to accommodate the growing number of tourists and the increasing popularity of ecotourism and wonderful scenery and wildlife, all combined with friendly locals and a fresh and relaxing atmosphere. All in all this could be your perfect spot to get out of the way a bit, enjoy the scenery and surroundings and take a Spanish language course.