TBT: When Bocas del Toro was part of Costa Rica
Look closely at this mid-1800s map of Costa Rica, and you might spot some major differences.
For one, there’s no Lake Arenal — that didn’t exist until the 1970s, when Costa Rica flooded the land to build a hydroelectric dam.
But perhaps more notably, Costa Rica’s southern border extends quite a bit farther in the map than it does in present day, encompassing what is now the popular tourist destination of Bocas del Toro.
What happened? It’s a long and complicated story, but in summary:
After Central American independence in 1821, Costa Rica — then part of the Federal Republic of Central America — occupied the area as part of its land. New Granada (comprising modern-day Panama, Colombia and Ecuador) viewed this as an incursion on its territory and retaliated by sending soldiers and later establishing Bocas del Toro as a canton.
Naturally, this angered Costa Rica, which considered the response as a usurpation. Costa Rica continued to claim ownership of the land, and territory disputes even led to a small war in 1921.
It took until 1941 for a treaty to be ratified by both Panama and Costa Rica, ending the decades of political dispute and solidifying the modern-day borders.
You may be interested
Arrest warrants issued for founders of Panama Papers firm: reportPaul Farhi | The Washington Post - October 21, 2020
Germany has issued international arrest warrants for the two founders of the firm at the centre of the tax haven…
Coronavirus outbreak shuts down Costa Rican Legislative Assembly sessionsThe Tico Times - October 20, 2020
An outbreak of COVID-19 among Costa Rican lawmakers forced the suspension of Legislative Assembly sessions, according to multiple reports. The…
Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Tuesday, October 20Alejandro Zúñiga - October 20, 2020
Costa Rica announced 18 new coronavirus-related deaths over the last day for a total of 1,222, according to official data…