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Costa Rica to Colombia

       This essay focuses on aspects of the political, economic, and cultural history of Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia. It is written for the participants in Stanford Travel/Study’s program, Costa Rica to Colombia, Aboard the Hebridean Sky, April 13-24, 2019. 


         In the three sections of the essay, I explain how pirates stole Spanish silver in the Caribbean region, discuss the politics, engineering, and impact of the Panama Canal, and contrast the socio-economic development of Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia. I first discuss why privateers (legal pirates) thrived in the 16th century, how buccaneers (illegal pirates) operated in the 17th century, and how piracy in the Caribbean was contained in the 1720s. I turn next to the Panama Canal – what the Americans learned from French mistakes in attempting to build a canal across the isthmus of Panama, what technical innovations the Americans used to construct the canal, and how well Panama’s government has operated the canal since gaining control in 2000. I conclude with a comparative analysis of socio-economic developments in Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia. I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of sites that I visited in Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia.

Hispaniola (1493), Puerto Rico (1508), Jamaica (1509), and Cuba (1511), San José, Costa Rica, Puerto Caldera, 

Corcovado National Park and Caletas Reserve, Osa Peninsula, Manuel Antonio National Park, Golfito and the Osa Peninsula, The United Fruit Company, Coiba Island, Emberá Village, Darién Province, Panama, Panama City and Agua Clara Locks, Panama Canal, San Blas Islands, Guna Yala, Cartagena, Colombia, 

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