Liberia is located in the northwest of Costa Rica, in the province of Guanacaste, and has all the ingredients of a very popular tourist place: a modern international airport, beautiful churches, an authentic colonial atmosphere, a rich history, and a beautiful central park.

While Liberia is used primarily as a passing station to visit more commercial neighboring towns in Guanacaste and the surrounding incredible beaches, jungles, and volcanoes, this town is a great place to enjoy a pleasant stay.

More than 60,000 Costa Ricans call the town of Liberia home, and in recent times the airport located very close is making Liberia enjoy much more popularity than before, carrying out prompt renovations, better roads, and more shopping options. For both residents and visitors, there are a wide variety of gastronomic offer as well as services to make life more interesting.

The History of Liberia

Liberia was founded as a traveler’s refuge without any formal act of foundation, on September 4, 1769. It was located in a strategic place where the known roads of the municipalities of Rivas, Bagaces and Nicoya cross. It was used mostly as a resting place for travelers. The gigantic trees in the area, popularly called “Guanacaste” (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), provided shade for travelers and livestock in the area that eventually became known as Guanacaste to that town.

When the Federal Republic of Central America was created in 1823, and the “Partido de Nicoya” served as an administrative unit of the new Republic. It composes most of the territory that today is the province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Most of the area, such as the settlements of Nicoya and Santa Cruz, celebrated economic ties to the Costa Rican territory, as well as the growing port of Puntarenas. Meanwhile, the Guanacaste settlement, modern-day Liberia, held closer economic ties to Nicaraguan territories, such as the city of Rivas.

Under the leadership of the towns of Nicoya and Santa Cruz, the Partido de Nicoya voted to annex to Costa Rica on July 25, 1824. The inhabitants of Guanacaste chose to remain part of Nicaragua in 1824. In 1826, after years of conflict, the Congress of the Federal Republic of Central America added Guanacaste (today Liberia) to Costa Rica.

The town of Guanacaste grew in importance and gradually surpassed the town of Nicoya as the most important settlement in the area. On July 23, 1831, the Guanacaste settlement was given the title of Villa de Guanacaste.

In 1838, after the Federal Republic of Central America began to dissolve, Costa Rica formally withdrew and a sovereign state was proclaimed. On December 7, 1848, Costa Rica divided its national territory into provinces, cantons, and districts. The territory that encompassed Nicoya, Bagaces, Santa Cruz, Guanacaste (Liberia) and Cañas became part of the newly formed province of Guanacaste.

On May 30, 1854, a government decree changed the name of the city of Guanacaste to the city of Liberia. The name of the province of Guanacaste was changed to Moracia in honor of the then president of Costa Rica Juan Rafael Mora Porras.

In August 1859, Juan Rafael Mora Porras was overthrown in a coup d’état orchestrated by Dr. José María Montealegre. On June 20, 1860, during the administration of the new president of Costa Rica Dr. José María Montealegre, the name of the province was changed again from Moracia to the definitive Guanacaste. Montealegre kept the name of the city of Liberia.

The importance of Liberia continued to grow and became an important center for agriculture and livestock. The construction of the Inter-American Highway further enhanced the importance of Liberia and contributed to the growth of trade in the region. At the end of the 20th century, Liberia became an important stopping point for tourists traveling to the beaches of the Pacific Coast of Guanacaste.

Currently, Liberia and the province of Guanacaste accept July 25, 1824, as the day of their annexation to Costa Rica. Liberia is often called by its inhabitants the “White City“, due to the white gravel used to build the streets and whitewashed colonial houses that once populated a large part of the town. The Liberia River bears the same name as the town and is the main watercourse in the province of Guanacaste.

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