Indigenous peoples in Costa Rica

Costa Rica covers an area of 50,900 km2, of which 3,344 km2 (5.9%) are recognised as indigenous territories. Costa Rican law envisages 24 such territories, inhabited by eight peoples. Seven of these are of Chibchense origin (Huetar in Quitirrisí and Zapatón; Maleku in Guatuso; Bribri in Salitre, Cabagra, Talamanca Bribri and Kekoldi; Cabécar in Alto Chirripó, Tayni, Talamanca Cabécar, Telire and China Kichá, Bajo Chirripó, Nairi Awari and Ujarrás; Brunca in Boruca and Rey Curré; Ngöbe in Abrojos Montezuma, Coto Brus, Conte Burica, Altos de San Antonio and Osa; Teribe in Térraba) and one of Meso-American origin (Chorotega in Matambú). In the last census, 63,876 people (1.7% of the total population) defined themselves as indigenous, of which 33,128 (42.3%) live on the stated territories, 18.2% live in areas surrounding them and 39.5% elsewhere in the country.

Costa Rica (along with El Salvador, Honduras, Chile and Uruguay) continues to be one of the countries with the lowest level of constitutional recognition of indigenous rights in the region. Costa Rica ratified ILO Convention 169 in 1992 and has voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007.

Yearly update

Read the 2012 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Costa Rica to learn about major developments and events during 2011 (internal link)

Download the 2011 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Costa Rica to read more about major developments and events during 2010