1502. Columbus lands on Costa Rica.
1522. Spanish colonizing expedition led by Gil Gonzalez Davila names the area Costa Rica, or "Rich Coast" because of the large amounts of gold given to them by the natives.
1562. Establishment of first permanent settlement, Cartago, by Juan Vázquez de Coronado "the true conqueror of Costa Rica," who acts as governor.
1821. Costa Rica gains independence from Spain, and votes to join the Mexican empire.
1823. Costa Rica joins the United Provinces of Central America, with Guatemala City as the capital.
1824. Juan Mora Fernández elected to be the first head of state. He presides over 9 years of stable progress.
1838. Costa Rica withdraws from Central American federation and declares complete independence.
1840s. Great wealth comes to several coffee growers, called "coffee barons."
1870-82. Investment in railroads and public works during the military rule of Tomás Guardia.
1871. Minor Copper Keith, the eventual founder of the United Fruit Company, comes to Costa Rica to manage production of the railway.
1873. Keith begins growing bananas to feed railway workers.
1889. Democracy established in Costa Rica.
1920-30s. Economic depression. Public calls for government reform culminate with communist -led strike against United Fruit Company.
1940-44. Rafael Angel Calderón Guardia continues the reformist movement as president by creating the social security system and introducing a labor code. He also founds the University of Costa Rica.
1948. A 40-day civil war kills 2,000 people; José Mariá Figueres Ferrer becomes head of the government, founds the Partido de Liberacion Nacional (PLN), and nationalizes the banks and insurance companies. (He dies a national hero in 1990.)
1950-60s. Period of expansion in government intervention in the economy and creation of a welfare state and public school system.
1980. Economic crisis due to inflation, currency devaluation, high oil prices, low prices for coffee, bananas, and sugar, high costs of the welfare state, and the disruption caused by the war in Nicaragua. Costa Rica has the world's highest per capita debt.
1981-84. The United States and IMF pour US$3 billion in aid into the Costa Rican economy.
1987. Costa Rican president Oscar Arias Sanchez wins Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to establish peace in Central America.
1990. Rafael Angel Calderón Fournier, son of Calderón Guardia and opposition leader, is elected president. He promotes reform of the tax codes.
1994. José María Figueres Olsen, son of Figueres Ferrer and Liberación Nacional leader, is elected president. He initiates policies to attract direct foreign investment in high technology.
1998. Conservative economist and opposition leader Miguel A. Rodríquez is elected president. His narrow victory at the polls leads to an experiment with "Concertación" (an effort to consult civil society on national problems), especially on the issue of privatization.