The impact of the peoples on modern Costa Rican culture has been relatively smallcompared to other nations, since the country lacked a strong native civilization to begin with. Most of the native population was absorbed into the Spanish-speaking colonial society throughmiscegenation, except for some small remnants, the most significant of which are the Bribri and Boruca tribes who still inhabit the mountains of the Cordillera de Talamanca, in the southern part of Costa Rica,near the frontier with Panama.
During most of the colonial period, Costa Rica was the southernmost province of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, which was nominallypart of the Viceroyalty of New Spain (i.e., Mexico), but which in practice operated as a largely autonomous entity within the Spanish Empire. Costa Rica's distance from the capital in Guatemala, itslegal prohibition under Spanish law to trade with its southern neighbors in Panama, then part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada (i.e., Colombia), and the lack of resources, such as gold and silver, madeCosta Rica into a poor, isolated, and sparsely inhabited region within the Spanish Empire. Costa Rica was described as "the poorest and most miserable Spanish colony in all America" by a Spanishgovernor in 1719.
Another important factor behind Costa Rica's poverty was the lack of a significant indigenous population available for forced labor, which meant most of the Costa Rican settlers...