Republic of Costa Rica
Costa Rica is part of Central America just below Nicaragua and below Panama. It is also sandwiched by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Literally, Costa Rica means “rich coast” referring to their said location.
The people from Costa Rica are called “Ticos” for males and “Ticas” for females.
Costa Ricans celebrate their Independence Day form the Spanish colonization on September 15. It is celebrated since 1821.
Their total population is estimated to be almost 5 million.
Costa Rica’s rich ecosystem takes up 5% of the earth’s biodiversity despite being only less than 0.05% of the earth’s landmass. That’s how prosperous their flora and fauna are.
Their official language is Spanish. However, because of the increasing tourism, 1 out of 9 Costa Ricans can speak conversational English.
Over 70% of their population is predominantly Roman Catholic.
Costa Rica is considered the largest country to not have a military force. The budget for military efforts was instead allocated to the education and health needs of their people.
Focus on education in Costa Rica has been successfully implemented lowering the cost of education. In fact, the country has more teachers than policemen.
The literacy rate of Costa Ricans with ages 15 to 24 is 98%.
25% of Costa Rica is composed of preserved territories in the form of National Parks and Conservatories with the aim of protecting their ecosystem and also for eco-tourism which makes up a significant portion of the country’s economy.
The country has only a 12% unemployment rate. The government has made impactful efforts to sustain the employment needs of its people.
Costa Rica is famous for the exports of bananas, pineapples, and coffee.
The U.S.A. is considered to be the biggest business partner in Costa Rica. This is evident by the widespread American fast-food chains and brand stores you can see in their capital, San Jose. Their biggest export also goes to America.
Costa Ricans have successfully managed to reduce their deforestation to 0%.
They have also earned the claim of using 100% renewable energy with about 80% coming from hydropower or power supply from water.
The healthcare system in Costa Rica is competent both through government-run and private-run institutions. They utilize high-end apparatus and medical pieces of equipment partnered with competent medical practitioners but with a significantly cheaper cost, especially compared to the prices of the U.S. and Canada. Their government has also made it mandatory to obtain healthcare, resulting in wider coverage even to the marginalized sectors.
The climate in Costa Rica can either be the dry season or the wet season. Being near the equator, it is known to be a tropical country. Be aware of the month you’re going to Costa Rica. It rains so much during the months of September and October. The months from November to April, on the other hand, should be fine for traveling and having outdoor adventures which are pretty much your goal for going to the country. Having this in mind, you should expect that it might also rain during the dry season and it can also get hot and humid during the wet season.
Being an eco-tourism country, bookings for tours and accommodations easily fill up. You must book your tour and hotel or AirBnB at least 6 months in advance.
In all of the Central American tourist destinations, Costa Rica is considered to be the most expensive to visit.
Despite the pricey visit, Costa Rica is the most visited country by tourists in Central America. That’s how enticing the country is to travelers.
In some establishments, Costa Ricans accept U.S. dollars for their products or services and even give change in their own currency. But don’t rely completely on this. It’s still advisable to exchange their national currency Colones for good measure.
Ticos and Ticas might not be the best drivers you will encounter. Driving in Costa Rica is generally safe but you might be surprised if local drivers do not necessarily follow the speed limit and road signs. Nevertheless, Costa Ricans are generally known to friendly people.
Locating a specific place in Costa Rica might be tricky. They mostly rely on landmarks and descriptions of their destination. Door numbers, block or lot numbers are not something they use often. If a place is near the church or some volcano, that is exactly how they will give you the directions if you happen to ask the locals. This also applies to how they want something delivered to them whether for something they want to ship to them or something they ordered online. So it’s safe and wise to just bring a map of Costa Rica with you containing the famous landmarks of the country.
“Pura Vida” is something you might hear a lot when you’re in Costa Rica. It translates to “pure life”. It is their national motto. The locals mostly use it as an expression of greetings like “hello” or “what’s up?”. This also portrays the calm and laidback nature of Costa Ricans, to just enjoy life and not rush.
Their Pura Vida lifestyle also means that you can’t really expect Costa Ricans to be punctual. Because they believe that life should not be rushed, they usually come late and they call this the “Tico Time”. It just basically means that when you set a time for something, they will commit to it but they will arrive 1 hour later or more so don’t be offended if this happens to you. It’s just the Pura Vida life.
Every year, during the months of August to December, the beach of Ostional Conservatory is visited by Olive Ridley sea turtles to hatch their eggs and bury them strategically in the sand. This is called the Arribada which translates to “the coming up”.
The country encompasses 120 volcanic formations with 5 of them being active volcanoes.
Their volcano named Poas is known for having one of the widest craters in the world. Irazu volcano is the tallest active volcano in Costa Rica.
For the adrenaline junkies out there, you can bungee jump in Costa Rica at Monteverde. Their bungee jump is considered to be the highest in all of Central America. You get to do this in the evergreen forests of Costa Rica. the jump is from a platform 143 meters from the ground.
Diquis Delta can be seen in many sites in Costa Rica especially in the forests. These are perfectly spherical stones that are traced to be made 1500 years ago. There is no clear explanation as to the purpose of these stones but they are a perfect sight in contrast to the chaotic wildlife.
A woman by the name of Lya Battle and her husband have been taking in stray dogs from the streets of San Jose for a decade now. They built this no-kill sanctuary for these dogs in Territorio de Zaguates (Land of the Strays) and they let thousands of dogs out in 378 acres of tropic land. They take care of the dogs and they take them to public walks where they get to roam around freely and interact with people who could potentially adopt them.
Coffee is an important part of a Costa Rican household. The export of coffee has helped the economy of Costa Rica thrive. The locals have their own flair to the coffee maker called the Chorreador. It is a wooden stand that holds the cloth filter for the coffee grounds. Some tourists take one as a souvenir and bring them home as a decoration or as a replacement for their coffeemaker.
The national dish of Costa Rica is called the Gallo Pinto which is composed of rice, beans, plantains, and some meat. Rice and beans are a staple to their cuisine and they serve this at every meal of the day.
Costa Ricans take pride in their most favorite condiment, Lizano Salsa. You’ll find this bottle of sauce made from vegetables and spices in most households and local restaurants. They just love to put this sauce to whatever, may it be Gallo Pinto or any other dish. Pretty much comparable to American’s Tabasco sauce.
The famed “Costa Rica’s national beer” brand Imperial is the world’s first water positive beer. Since its manufacture in 1924, the company conserves water at every step of their brewing process giving consideration to communities that need a supply of freshwater.
Tap water in most parts of Costa Rica is safe for drinking with the huge exception of the province of Limon which is largely due to the recent hit of an earthquake in this part of the country.
Famous Costa Rica
The rom-com travelogue “After Words” was shot and set in Costa Rica, showcasing the different sides to the abundant ecosystem of Costa Rica. The film stars Academy Award Winner Marcia Gay Harden and Oscar Jaenada from Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides. The film depicts the life of a depressed librarian who sought peaceful suicide in the scenic country of Costa Rica. The film definitely showed Costa Rica in all its glorious scenery.
Do you remember that movie which Will Smith and his son in real life starred in? Yes! After Earth. In the film, they crash-landed in a part of Earth where it is entirely green because of all the trees around. That was actually shot in Costa Rica. They shot it in La Fortuna de San Carlos and Sarapiqui.
It is a common misconception that the Jurassic Park film was set in Costa Rica. The opening of the film shows the rainforest of the story’s made up forest named Isla Nubla. It was actually just footage of the beautiful Isla del Coco and most of the film was shot in a soundstage.
The actor who plays Mike Chang on Glee, Harry Shum Jr., was actually born in Limon, Costa Rica and he first learned Costa Rican Spanish before English and Chinese.
Record Title Holder
Costa Rica is a Guinness World Record title holder for having the most recycled material in 8 hours. Ecolones in Belen, Costa Rica recycled 30,162 kilograms of plastic in December 2018.
Nicoya Peninsula Region in the Northern Pacific Coast of the country is hailed as one of the Blue Zones in the world. This means that there are numerous centenarians or people who reach the age of 100 years old in the said location. It is estimated that 1 in every 250 Costa Ricans reaches the age of 100. This may be due to their genes, lifestyle and the environment they live in.
The only sloth rescue center in the world is located in Costa Rica. The Sloth Rescue Center or Aviarios del Caribe is home to over 70 sloths and counting, needing physical care and shelter to recover.Those are all the fun facts that you may or may not use during your trip to Costa Rica. Nevertheless, it's fun knowing the special things about a country, the people and their culture.