Sunday, 7 February 2016

Costa Rica Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I continue an alphabetical search of the countries and their significant settlements. This time Costa Rica and a look at some of its largest settlements and most interesting names and starting with the capital.

San Jose, as with so many settlements named by the Spanish, is simply the name of the saint associated with area, and here that is St Joseph.

Heredia gets its name from a corrupted version of the name of the local tribe inhabiting this region when they arrived, the Huetares.

Nicoya is often held to come from Cacique Nicoa (or Nicoya), this the title and name of the supposed leader of the indigenous people who welcomed the Spanish to this arwa. However the real origin is from the native Nahuati tongue where Necoc iauh describes its position between two significant rivers perfectly as 'on both sides its waters'.

Tirrases takes its name from the local Tirra tree, ulmus mexicana, thought to be the tallest of all elms when reaching a height of 273 feet. It is easily identified by its deeply fluted grey trunk, this also making it disliked by those in the timber trade and, while areas have been felled, the species is not considered under threat.

Puerto Limon, most often known simply as Limon, gets its name from the important port and the Spanish for 'lemon', although it was founded to allow the export of coffee, not lemons.

Siquirres is from a native word, one describing the soil as 'reddish coloured'.

Puntarenas is from the Spanish for 'sand point'.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

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