Liberia, the largest city in Guanacaste, was informally founded on Sept. 4, 1769, when a chapel was built there. It was located at a strategic crossroads connecting the cities of Rivas, Bagaces and Nicoya, and it was used primarily as a place of rest by travelers.
The giant trees of the region, popularly known as “guanacaste” trees, provided shade for travelers and cattle, and the village that arose there became known by the name Guanacaste.
In 1812, the Spanish Courts of Cádiz created the provinces of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, both of which gained independence from Spain in 1821. In 1823, Costa Rica became part of the Federal Republic of Central America.
The Party of Nicoya was an administrative unit of this republic, governing what is today most of the province of Guanacaste. The settlements of Nicoya and Santa Cruz were economically linked to Costa Rican territory, while the town of Guanacaste (today’s Liberia) had more ties to Rivas, in what is today Nicaragua.
Under the leadership of the towns of Nicoya and Santa Cruz, the Party of Nicoya voted to annex itself to Costa Rica on July 25, 1824. Residents of Guanacaste (Liberia) voted that same year to remain part of Nicaragua. In 1826, after years of conflict, the Congress of the Federal Republic of Central America added Guanacaste (Liberia) to Costa Rica. Today, both Liberia and Guanacaste celebrate July 25, 1824, as the date of their annexation to Costa Rica.