The first occupants of the region are believed to be the Chorotega, who occupied large tracts of land throughout Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua in the 8th century BC. Unfortunately, our knowledge about the group is incomplete due to the lack of extensive ruins typical of populations in other parts of Central America. However, it is known that they were contemporaries of the Maya, and were part of a cultural link extending from Mexico to the Andes.
Although their civilization prospered for over 2000 years, the Chorotega were wiped out by warfare and disease during the Spanish colonial period. During this era, the Spanish systematically clear-cut large tracts of dry tropical rain forest since the table-flat landscape was perfect for growing crops and raising cattle.
Following independence, this region maintained its agrarian roots, though the surrounding rain forest has been severely depleted. Today the Interamericana is big-sky country, and you can spot rivers from some kilometers off, snaking through a landscape of fincas and ranches. Fortunately, there are a few large preserves of humid rain forest still left in the Cordillera de Tilarán, and the extreme northwest remains one of the few remaining tracts of dry rain forest in the world.