When you think of white sand beaches and turquoise waters, the image in your head is probably Costa Rica. This lush country is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, which means there’s plenty to do: from visiting its many scenic national parks, beaches, and jungles, to immersing yourself in the vibrant local culture. Read on to discover more about this unique Central American gem and contact us to book a bespoke, unforgettable escapade.
1. The nickname “tico” for anything Costa Rican was born from a mannerism of ending diminutives with “tico”, as in “chiquitico”, rather than “chiquitito” as they do in other Spanish-speaking countries.
2. The people of Costa Rica use the phrase pura vida (“pure life”) in their everyday speech, as a greeting or to show appreciation for something.
3. Costa Rica’s well-populated heartland is devoted to the cultivation of coffee. Mmm… delicious!
4. Bananas and pineapples are two of Costa Rica’s main exports.
5. Costa Ricans are famous pacifists: their 1949 constitution abolished the country’s army!
6. At Costa Rica’s narrowest point, the distance between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean is only about 75 miles! Sounds like a great road trip.
7. Costa Rica has the largest percentage of people of Spanish descent in Central America.
8. Costa Rica has developed the largest national park system of any Latin American country. It includes tropical rainforests, cloud forests, dry forests, elfin forests, active volcanoes, turtle nesting sites, and coral reefs.
9. In 1502, Christopher Columbus’s fourth Atlantic voyage brought him to the shores of Costa Rica, where he remained for 18 days refitting his ships.
10. In Costa Rica, it’s Niño dios (Child God, meaning Jesus) or Colacho (St. Nicholas) that brings presents to good boys and girls during Christmas.
11. According to the Happy Planet Index, in 2012 Costa Rica held the top position as the happiest country in the world.
12. Costa Rica is the most biodiverse country in the world, with a whopping 500,000 species of wildlife!
13. If birdwatching is a favourite pastime of yours, Costa Rica is a must-visit destination for its wide variety of birds.
14. The most popular dishes in Costa Rica are gallo pinto (rice with black beans), casado (rice, beans, salad, tortillas, fried plantain, and meat), and tamales wrapped in banana leaves.
15. Costa Rica is part of the Pacific Ring Fire Circle and has over 200 volcanic formations traced back over 65 million years.
16. Costa Rica boasts an average life expectancy of 80 years. Is a relaxing, laidback lifestyle surrounded by nature the secret recipe to a longer life?
17. With 12 ecological zones and over 100 national parks, reserves, refuges and protected lands, Costa Rica is a true display of mother nature’s beauty.
18. Costa Rica is known to have some of the best surfing waves in the world and the rainforests are ideal for treetop trekking adventures.
19. Every Costa Rican currency bill features a landscape and animal, including the white-tailed deer, capuchin monkey, sloth, and blue morpho butterfly.
20. Costa Rica contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity, even though its landmass only takes up .03% of the planet’s surface.
21. In Costa Rica, you can watch the sun rise from the horizon on the Caribbean coast and admire it falling on a beach on the Pacific coast, all in one day!
22. Costa Rica generates most of its energy using renewable sources: hydropower, wind, geothermal energy, biomass, and solar.
23. There are 5 active volcanoes in Costa Rica: the Poás, the Irazú, Arenal Volcano, the Rincón de la Vieja, and the Turrialba. And they’re all spectacular!
24. The Guanacaste is Costa Rica’s national tree! It is said to represent universal equilibrium and sacred creation.
25. The clay-colored thrush is Costa Rica’s national bird. Here it’s known as the yigüirro, pronounced “jigwiro”.
26. The national flower of Costa Rica is the guaria morada, a purple/fuchsia orchid.
27. There are 800 miles of coastline in Costa Rica between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. That’s a lot of beaches!
28. The Poas Volcano, located in Costa Rica’s central area, has the second widest crater in the world – nearly one mile in diameter.
29. The Arenal Volcano is one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world.
30. You can find 1,200 varieties of orchids in Costa Rica!
31. Costa Rica is home to 130 species of freshwater fish, 160 species of amphibians, 208 species of mammals, 220 species of reptiles, 850 species of birds, 1,000 species of butterflies, and much more!
32. More than 25% of Costa Rica’s land is dedicated to national parks, reserves and wildlife refuges. There are more than 100 different protected areas to visit.
33. For most of Costa Rica, the dry season runs from December through April. During these months, the Pacific coast and most of the Central Valley receive little rain, or the odd afternoon shower.
34. The Tempisque River Bridge (known locally as the friendship bridge) that connects the mainland to the Nicoya Peninsula was a gift from Taiwan.
35. Costa Rica’s official language is Spanish, though a large number of its citizens are bilingual. English, due to its status as the international language of tourists, is the most common second language in Costa Rica. Large portions of the population also speak Bribri, creole Mekatelyu, and Mandarin Chinese as their first languages.
34. The white-tailed deer is Costa Rica’s national animal! Yep, Bambi. There’s even a deer on the 1,000 colones bill.
35. On the street, you’ll hear Costa Ricans call coffee yodo or yodito (“a lil’ iodine”).
36. The most traditional method of coffee preparation in Costa Rica is to brew it using a chorreador, a pour-over that utilizes a fine mesh filter pouch hung from a wooden frame.
37. Costa Rican coffee varieties differ in flavor depending on elevation and soil composition, though most have a silky body, running the gamut from crisp fruitiness to smoky chocolate.
38. The Boruca, Bribri, Cabécar, Guaymí, Huetar, Maleku, Matambú, and Térraba are Costa Rica’s indigenous groups.
39. Costa Rica’s pacific marine area is approximately 10 times larger than its land area!
40. There are about 52 species of hummingbirds in Costa Rica, making the country a true hummingbird capital.
41. Monkeys are one of the most common mammals in Costa Rica – next to bats. The four common species are the Howler, Spider, White-Faced and Squirrel.
42. Bug-phobist look out! There are about 750,000 species of insects that live in Costa Rica, including about 20,000 different types of spiders!
43. More than 10% of the world’s butterflies live in Costa Rica.
44. Costa Rica is slightly smaller than Lake Michigan and slightly smaller than West Virginia! The U.S. is roughly 181 times larger than Costa Rica. Talk about a lot of beauty in a small area.
45. Costa Rican culture is a vibrant blend of indigenous heritage and Spanish colonial influence, with a dash of Jamaican, Chinese, and other immigrant cultures lending character and customs.
46. Costa Rica is home to the Basilisk, also known as Jesus Christ Lizard. It can literally walk on water, and that’s how it got its clever nickname.
47. Costa Rica has a population of just under 5 million people—a little more than half the population of New York City.
48. Costa Rica has a literacy rate of 97.8 percent, one of the highest in the world.
49. Costa Rica has around 615 species of animal per 10,000 square miles. By comparison, the U.S. has 104.
50. Certain species of crocodile, many of which can be found in Costa Rica’s rivers, can measure up to 16 feet in length.
51. Every town, no matter how small, has a church, a soccer field, and a pulpería (corner store).
52. The local liquor in Costa Rica is called “guaro” and is made from sugar cane. It is best enjoyed with slices of mandarin limes, a local citrus with a truly unique flavor.
53. Costa Rica boasts an almost 0% rate of deforestation. Those green credentials!
54. From traditional Spanish gastronomy and African influences to Mesoamerican and Chinese flavors – each ethnic group that calls Costa Rica home has contributed greatly to how the country tastes today.
55. All churches in Costa Rica face west! The general consensus seems to be that the congregation inside the church can pray towards Jerusalem, in the east.
56. The Costa Rican flag has a shield on it, which contains 3 volcanoes, 2 ships (representing the Pacific and Caribbean coasts), and 7 stars (representing each of Costa Rica’s provinces).
57. Costa Rica is famous for stone spheres: they’re about 2,000 years old and have been sculpted. They range from four inches to eight feet in diameter. No one knows what they’re for!
58. San Jose (Costa Rica’s capital city) only started putting up street signs in 2012! Who needs addresses when you can simply give directions based on local landmarks?
59. Due to Costa Rica’s close proximity to the equator, the sunrise and sunset are to be expected at the same time every day of the year.
60. Costa Rica has set a goal to become the first fossil-free country in the world, and they are already on a good path to achieve the goal!
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