The History and Growth of Costa Rica Banana Industry

Be sure to visit a banana plantation in Costa Rica if you ever travel there.

Bananas have been one of the most popular and versatile fruits in history. The banana is actually a native species of Asia that has been transported to other tropical locations around the globe, including Costa Rica.

Costa Rica and indeed, the Central American economy, include an important sector focusing on this fruit, with Costa Rica banana plantations providing a significant part of the export business.

Banana Plantation Costa Rica History

For much of Costa Rica’s early history coffee was the leading export. The formation of such massive corporations as United Fruit Company changed that.

The banana plantation in Costa Rica has been a staple of the economy for well over 100 years now. In fact, millions of bananas were being exported from Costa Rica before the turn of the last century (1900). Today, there are approximately 130 banana producing countries and out of the top 20, Costa Rica banana production ranks eighth.

In the early years of the 1900s, banana trees began to appear all over the landscape, with some banana plantations in Costa Rica visible for miles from the few roads that crossed the countryside.

Growth of the Banana Industry

Early banana plantations in Costa Rica were first established in the area near the Sixaola River. Large companies such as Dole and Del Monte soon became established in this region as the demand for fresh bananas grew. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, labor unrest shut the banana industry down for a time, until wages rose to a satisfactory level. The Costa Rica banana industry then expanded to other sections of the country through the middle of the 20th century.

Costa Rica Banana Growing Regions

One area that began to attract attention as a banana-growing region was near Golfito, in the southern part of the country. Wild and remote and long viewed as a secluded section of Costa Rica, bananas and other products have changed the characteristics of the area somewhat.

Quepos, on the Pacific coast in the central part of the country, also began life as a banana plantation. In the past 70 or 80 years it has grown into a lively, small city, enjoying its proximity to the ocean.

Labor strikes and plant diseases reduced Costa Rica banana production at various times through the second half of the 20th century. New efforts and growing techniques brought production back to a healthy level of nearly 500 million boxes of bananas shipped throughout the world in the mid-1990s. At one point, revenue from the Costa Rica banana industry was larger than all tourism combined.

Numerous banana plantations in Costa Rica can still be found in the Sixaola River area, as well as around Santa Clara and in the Estrella Valley. The Matina Valley region is also a prime banana growing location. A significant portion of Costa Rica’s banana growth occurs on the Caribbean side of the country.

Today, production and export of from banana plantations in Costa Rica are dominated by three huge, well-known companies – Dole, Chiquita, and Del Monte, which harvest, package, and export Costa Rica bananas directly to world markets.

Costa Rica All Inclusive Tours – Eat Local Bananas!

A coffee plantation in Costa Rica is featured as part of our Caravan tour package, as well as driving past several other popular Costa Rica plantations including sugar cane, coffee, pineapple, and oranges.

Eat fresh Costa Rica bananas while on your all inclusive Costa Rica package tour with Caravan Tours!

Call toll-free at 1-800-Caravan (227-2826)