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It’s 6 p.m. on the eve of Independence Day and Costa Rica has screeched to a halt, as the national anthem is warbled by a countrywide choir of all Costa Ricans. The flickering of lanterns around me reflects the re-creation of history, specifically, the decree issued from Congress in Guatemala City on September 15, 1821.

Costa Rica was officially declared independent from the Central American colonial government. However, nobody told the Costa Ricans about it for nearly a month, due to the absence of phones, faxes, or e-mails.

According to legend, messengers heroically spread the word at night, toting small lanterns to illuminate their path, and raced across the entire country on foot without the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Costa Rica’s tumultuous history is more geological than political. The country is blanketed by 112 volcanic formations, created eons ago as part of the Pacific Rim of Fire which accounts for 81% of all major earthquakes. Seven volcanoes are active, and their combinations of orgasmic ooze and incendiary explosions were a deterrent for the earliest human inhabitants of 10,000 years ago to expand their territories.

The first sizeable settlement was recently unearthed near Turrialba, where an estimated 10,000 people lived around 1000 BC. Known today as Guayabo National Monument, it is the largest, most important archaeological site in the country. Excavators discovered paved sidewalks, a cobblestone road entering the village, aqueducts, tombs, and circular mounds serving as foundations for buildings that were five stories high.READ MORE

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