During the latter half of the nineteenth century, those who settled the northwestern part of Costa Rica's Central Valley were active participants in a profound modification of the region's geographic and social environment. While the early- to mid-century landscape was dominated by forests, interspersed with pastures and small maize or sugarcane fields, especially near Grecia, the late nineteenth century witnessed a major process of agricultural intensification in areas of formerly extensive land use. At the same time, effective economic occupation of the land proceeded farther west within the Central Valley and beyond. In addition to previous uses of the land, several of which continued to expand, coffee became a major crop in the region, and former colonists were directly involved in agro-export production. Owners of capital extended credit, and governments facilitated access to land, on an unequal but also non-restrictive basis. Commercial peasant farming in this frontier region was not necessarily an antagonist but rather a component of the specific way in which agrarian capitalism developed there.