San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Life Reveals Moments of Costa Rican History

A treasure trove of more than 10 million photos, including some fascinating moments of Costa Rican history, was recently unveiled by Life magazine online in cooperation with Google. About 97 percent of the images have never been seen by the public before, according to Life’s Web site.

Google is gradually integrating all the images into its Google Image Search, and has so far uploaded about 20 percent of them.

Some 118 photos currently come up under a search for “Costa Rica,” many depicting legendary three-time president José “don Pepe” Figueres and the 1955 invasion of his government from Nicaragua by rebels supporting exiled former President Rafael Angel Calderón Guardia.

The archive also depicts former U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s visit to the country in 1963, including a photo of him seated in the National Theater and another of  policemen holding back crowds from the beloved U.S. president during his visit to San José. Another photo shows a dramatic explosion of Irazú Volcano in 1964. Several photos show the joint U.S. and Costa Rican campaign to inoculate the population against

smallpox, measles and polio in 1967.

Life magazine was founded in 1883 and bought by Henry Luce in 1936, when the publication increased its focus on photojournalism. It published its last issue in 2000.

The images are online at and are available for purchase as framed fine-art photographic prints for $79.99 to $109.99 per photo.

–Elizabeth Goodwin


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