The Monteverde Costa Rica History goes back in time even before the Quakers arrived
Before the town was settled, the Monteverde area was inhabited by the Corobici Indians. The first outside settlers found evidence of these Native Americans, who used the land as hunting grounds.
Later, the Monteverde area was settled in 1918 by Costa Rican Families who homesteaded on the tree-covered mountain top. Ramon Leiton and Florencia Mendez settled in the San Luis Valley below Monteverde around 1920. Jose Mendez first named the whole area, “Cerro Plano” when coming up from San Luis on a hunting expedition.
Nine Quaker families who left the Unite States because of the obligatory peacetime draft founded the original Monteverde Community. They moved to Costa Rica searching for a place where they could live a peaceful life style. One reason they chose Costa Rica was that the army had been abolished in 1948. After searching the country for six months, the Quakers visited that “flat hill” called Cerro Plano on April 19, 1951. They purchased 1.400 hectares, around 3.000 acres, of that flat hill, and settled there. They named their new home Monteverde which translates to Green Mountain .The area that was originally named Cerro Plano included what is now Monteverde, Cerro Plano, and a good part of Santa Elena. There was a church in Cerro Plano and also a small school that taught two grades every year.The Santa Elena region was originally founded as Espinero, around the 1920’s.
When the Quakers arrived, the name had already been changed to Santa Elena. The town consisted of a school with two grades, and an open air meat shop that sold meat once a month. With time, a church and cantine were built, and the town slowly started to grow. The area named Cerro Plano still exists, being the area between Monteverde and Santa Elena.
The area was very remote, having practically no roads. Everyone in the area, Quakers and Costa Ricans, had to rely on each other. The original Costa Rican settlers had a saw mill and trapiche (sugar processing mill) and had cleared land for garden plots and cattle grazing. Two years after arriving, the Quakers founded the Monteverde Cheese Factory. This was the first company in the area and quickly became the economic base for the community.
Over the years the area has developed and grown. Monteverde is now the political district for the whole area and has a population of 3.400 people. Two large, private reserves protect a combined area of more than 27.000 hectares. New organizations and businesses have opened up along side the Cheese Factory. Ecotourism has allowed the national and private reserves to continue their growth and accomplish their goals of a sustainable, enjoyable, wilderness experience. The area has become the home to many people of different ethnic, cultural and social backgrounds: biologists, artists, musicians, and educators, among others.Since the mid 80’s, each year thousands of visitors have enjoyed this unique area, full of ecological and cultural diversity.