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Costa Rica´s Indigenous Tribes

Costa Rica is very well-known for its beautiful animals, stunning beaches, the lush rainforest, and ¨Pura Vida¨ culture, but there are some very interesting, hidden tribes that live deep within the Costa Rican forests. This short article will tell you a bit more about these tribes and their fascinating culture!


Before Costa Rica was taken over by the Spanish conquistadores the only inhabitants of the country (as in most Central and South American countries) were indigenous. Nowadays there are 24 Indigenous territories in the whole of Costa Rica, of which the people can be divided into 8 ethnic groups.


Seven of the indigenous peoples are of Chibchense origin, which are the Huetar, the Maleku, the Bribri, the Cabécar, the Brunca, the Ngöbe, and the Teribe. The eighth peoples are of Meso-Americn origin, which are the Chorotega. Among the indigenous communities, at least five different languages are spoken.


The tribes started of as hunters and gatherers, but have developed inmensely and gained a lot of knowledge on the land, plants, and animals. Nowadays they live off of whatever they can find in the forests, and are also proud farmers of cocoa, coffee, bananas, cotton, corn, and beans, as well as being reat fishermen and bird hunters.


The women of the tribes often make ceramics too which ususally depict fragments of their lifestyle such as their customs or the animals and plants that can be found in the forests. These ceramics can be purchased when visiting one of these tribes.


The indigenous people have territorial rights in Cost Rica, however these rights are constantly being violeted unfortunately. In an attempt to improve this situation there were workshops, regional assemblies, and national meetings held with the indigenous territories to discuss how to proceed from hereon. Fortunately, more and more people are standing up for the indigenous people and their rights.





If you want to learn more about this culture, the traditions, the art, and the way of life of the indigenous tribes of Costa Rica you should visit one of the reserves and take a tour through the community. This way you support the tribes by providing them with an income and they have the opportunity to share their culture which they have worked so hard for to preserve.

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