Nicknamed 'la ciudad blanca' ("the white city"), after the white gravel that was once used to build the city's roads and the bleached colonial houses, the city no longer retains much of its white hue, despite many of the buildings still standing. Thousands of tourists flock to Liberia every year, and in contrast to old-time travelers who used to pitch their tents here centuries ago, the visitors of today see Liberia not merely as a stopover on a longer journey, but a prime destination for experiencing the rich and diverse culture of the country's high north. Liberia experienced around 150 years of a most interesting history: founded in 1769 as a strategic settlement between the roads leading from Rivas, Bagaces and Nicoya, the city not only formed itself without a legal act, but was also caught in between the countries of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Holding ties with Nicaragua until 1826, Liberia (formerly Guanacaste, until 1854) grew in importance that further increased after being adjoined to Costa Rica, and it has held the status ever since. Today, Liberia's city centre features modern buildings as well as multiple attractions of its unique cultural heritage, while the surroundings boast beautiful nature with a rich flora and fauna.