A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Costa Rica


Costa Rica was originally part of the United Provinces of Central America, which had separated from Mexico in 1823. Although the United Provinces had separated into El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica by 1839, Costa Rica did not formally declare its independence until August 30, 1848.

Modern Flag of Costa Rica


U.S. Recognition of Costa Rican Independence, 1849.

Costa Rica notified the United States of its independence on September 5, 1848. On April 24, 1849, Ephraim G. Squier, the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Guatemala, was given full powers to negotiate commercial and other matters with Costa Rica. This latter date constituted recognition by the United States. Squier never transmitted his letter of credence or visited Costa Rica, and was unable to reach any agreements by correspondence with Costa Rica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Consular Presence

A Consulate was established in San José in 1852. Other U.S. consular posts were:

  • Port Limon (Consular Agency 1872-1902; Consulate 1902-1948)
  • Punta Arenas (Commercial Agency 1859-1870; Consular Agency 1870-1932; Vice Consulate 1942-1945)

Diplomatic Relations

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, 1851.

Diplomatic relations were established on March 24, 1851, when Costa Rican Minister Felipe Molina presented his credentials in Washington. He served until his death on February 1, 1855.

First American Minister accredited to Costa Rica, 1853.

American Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary Solon Borland was appointed to Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and El Salvador on April 19, 1853, although he only presented his credentials in Nicaragua. The first U.S. Minister to present his credentials in Costa Rica was Mirabeau B. Lamar, who was appointed to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and was resident in Managua. Lamar was appointed June 20, 1858, and presented his credentials in Costa Rica on September 18.

Establishment of the American Legation in San Jose, 1898.

William L. Merry was the first U.S. Minister to be resident in San Jose, and presented his credentials there on January 15, 1898.

Interruption of Relations, 1917-1922.

On January 17, 1917, President Alfredo Gonzales was overthrown in a military coup. The United States did not recognize the new government of Federico Tinoco. U.S. Minister Edward J. Hale left the country on April 19, and the Legation was closed December 5, 1918. After the overthrow of Tinoco and prior to the election of Julio Acosta as President, the Legation was reopened October 15, 1920. Roy T. Davis, the next U.S. Minister to Costa Rica, was appointed February 10, 1922, presented his credentials on March 14, and served until January 4, 1930.

Elevation of American Legation to Embassy Status, 1943.

Fay A. Des Portes was appointed as the first U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica on March 27, 1943. He served from May 20, 1943 to September 11, 1944.

Don Francisco de P. Gutierrez, the first Costa Rican Ambassador to the United States, presented his credentials on June 15, 1944.

Treaties & Agreements

Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation, 1851

The first treaty between the United States and Costa Rica was a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation, signed in Washington on July 10, 1851 and entered into force on May 26, 1852.


  • Bevans, Charles I. Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949. Volume 6: Canada-Czechoslovakia. Department of State Publication 8549 (January 1971).
  • Department of State Country Fact Sheet: Costa Rica
  • Department of State Country Information: Costa Rica
  • Miller, Hunter. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Volume 5, 1846-1852. Department of State Publication 1017, 1937.