The incorporation of the territory of Nicoya to the State of Costa Rica occurred on July 25, 1824. The region is now the Guanacaste Province.
- Ministry of Culture photo -

Published on Friday, July 23, 2021

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

On Sunday, the country will celebrate the Guanacaste Day.  This is the Guanacaste Annexation Day holiday in Costa Rica. This year the holiday is moved to Monday, July 26.

According to the Ministry of Labor, no employee is forced to work that holiday, but if the worker and boss make an agreement, the employee must receive an extra day's salary if they have to work on the holiday.

The motto, "De la patria por nuestra voluntad" ( In English, the motto translates to: “Part of the country by our own free will" ) represents how 197 years ago, the people of the Nicoya territory decided to join the recently proclaimed independent State of Costa Rica.

According to the book ”El Partido de Nicoya y su integración a Costa Rica” by historian Julio César Jaén Contreras, the incorporation of the territory of Nicoya to the State of Costa Rica occurred on July 25, 1824. The region is now the Guanacaste Province.

The annexation went through a plebiscite that took place in the city of Nicoya. During an open town hall, the inhabitants of the municipalities of Nicoya and Santa Cruz voted to join Costa Rica.

This voluntary act to become a new territory contributed more land, people and natural resources, such as the special dry forest, but Nicoya also culturally enriched the nation, the Ministry of Culture said in its statement.
Gastronomy, music, language, ancestral knowledge, religious traditions, among many other manifestations, characterize Guanacaste's cultural heritage.

Guanacaste Day is more than a traditional celebration. The town of Guanacaste has brought a priceless cultural legacy to Costa Rica. According to the ministry, some of the main contributions of the Guanacaste culture to the country are:


Corn punch, pinolillo, torta dulce, rosquillas, perrerreque, yoltamal, tanelas, corn rice among many other delicious dishes, are part of the Costa Rican gastronomic culture, inherited by the ancestors.

The corn, in its indigenous, native and varieties, is a Cultural Heritage of Costa Rica. The traces of the presence and use of corn in Costa Rica, date back to 3,000 B.C. in the Guanacaste territory.


The tradition of making ceramic pieces with Chorotega influence is considered a living heritage.

From the original populations of Guanacaste to those of today, pottery remains popular in towns such as Guaitil de Santa Cruz, Las Pozas and San Vicente de Nicoya; Puerto San Pablo and Santa Rita, in Nandayure, as well as in Tempatal de La Cruz.

According to Iria Salas, researcher, ceramic artist and teacher at the School of Plastic Arts of the University of Costa Rica, pottery possibly began to be manufactured in Guanacaste 4,000 years ago. The oldest evidence comes from the Tilarán mountain range.

The current production of Chorotega ceramics dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, when men collaborated in obtaining and preparing raw materials and women carried out the activity and passed on their knowledge to new generations.


Language and particular ways of speaking are expressions of culture; not only part of natural and daily communication but also of cultural identity, traditions and collective memory of the intangible cultural heritage of people.

In Guanacaste, culture manifests itself in the oral part of the language, in multiple and particular expressions of its inhabitants; in words related to work as: el sabanero, el boyero, or el agricultor; in some expressions linked to the activities of the farms, and even to the landscape; and in oral traditions, such as Bombas and Retahilas.

"Guanacaste's speech is distinguished from the rest of the country in terms of pronunciation, some grammatical features, and, above all, with respect to the lexicon, which largely brings it closer to the speech of the countries of North Central America, than to the speech of the Central Valley,” Miguel Ángel Quesada Pacheco, linguist, researcher, member of the Costa Rican Academy of Language said.


The traditional musical instrument Quijongo, is a two-meter long stick, a rope tied from end to end, a sounding board and a jícaro (a type of calabash).

This is a national instrument that, together with the marimba, makes it one of the most characteristic of the Guanacaste province, both due to its origin and its influence on musical production in this region.

According to the Ministry of Culture, the Quijongo is currently considered Guanacaste's musical heritage. Being an accessible instrument, allowed for silent moonlit nights to have a musical accompaniment to promote evenings and leisure spaces among the inhabitants of the haciendas. Also, its melody is a complement to indigenous genres.

Architectural heritage

The old buildings in Guanacaste still standing are the heritage of the province and the country.

The Temple of San Blas in Nicoya is considered one of the buildings with the most cultural history in the province of Guanacaste. It was declared a Site of Historical-Architectural Interest in 1995.

The construction of the first temple is estimated to have started almost 500 years ago (between 1522 and 1544). According to the Center for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, the structure is made up of wooden walls and a thatched roof, similar to the houses of the indigenous population.

Over the years, the temple has undergone various reconstructions due to several incidents such as earthquakes or fires, which have occurred between 1822 and 2012. The most recent was the Samara earthquake in 2012, causing the destruction of certain parts of the temple.

In 2019, after a gradual restoration process by the Cultural Heritage Center, the temple reopened its doors to the public.

The Guanacaste Day celebration is more than commemorating a historic date. It is the celebration of the cultural expansion of the colonial territory to a whole country.

Today, Guanacaste is also synonymous with tourism. The province has five-star hotels, its own international Daniel Oduber Airport, two commercial centers located in the northern area: Liberia and Santa Cruz, and five important tourism development centers: Papagayo, El Coco, Flamingo, Conchal, and Tamarindo.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the incomparable beauty of its landscapes, which ranges from tropical dry forests to lowland mountain forests, its warm climate, as well as its flourishing nature has made Guanacaste one of the most heavily visited areas by locals as well as international tourists. The province has one of the most developed lands because of its high level of investment in the coveted hotel industry.

"All along the Guanacaste coastline are several beaches where you can swim in their warm Pacific Ocean waters. The coastal landscape is exceptional. There is an array of white-sand beaches and calm, intense-blue waters," the ministry said on its website, Visit Costa Rica.

Which one of Guanacaste's contributions to culture in Costa Rica is your favorite?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to


Facebook110217.jpg twitter110217.jpg