After a brief time in the Mexican Empire of Augustin de Iturbide (see: History of Mexico) Costa Rica became a state in the United States of Central America (see: History of Central America) from 1823 to 1839. In 1824 the capital was moved to San José. From the 1840s on Costa Rica was an independent nation.
Costa Rica is a Central American success story: since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred its democratic development. In 1949, José Figueres Ferrer abolished the army; and since then, Costa Rica has been one of the few countries to operate within the democratic system without the assistance of a military.
Although still a largely agricultural country, it has achieved a relatively high standard of living. Land ownership is widespread. Tourism is a rapidly expanding industry.