Are you planning a trip to Costa Rica soon?
Whether you’re traveling to the land of pura vida or just want to learn some interesting tidbits of this Central American country, this article has just what you’re looking for!
Here’s our roundup of the most interesting Costa Rica facts:
1. Costa Rica’s national dish is gallo pinto (“spotted rooster”). Gallo pinto is like a fancier version of rice and beans, common in many Latin American countries, especially Nicaragua. They have three variations: in Valle Central it is seasoned with chili, onions, and cilantro; on the Caribbean Coast it is cooked in coconut milk; and in Guanacaste gallo pinto is made with red beans rather than black. To get a plate of this dish or other dishes in Costa Rican cuisine, head to a soda, which is a small, cheap, informal restaurant.
2. Costa Rica’s Cocos Island was the inspiration for Treasure Island. Isla del Coco, as it’s called in Spanish, lies approximately 342 mi (550 km) southwest of the Costa Rican mainland in the Pacific Ocean. If you include islands, it’s actually the southernmost point of the entire continent of North America. Not only did it inspire Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous book, but it is also the inspiration for Isla Nublar in Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park.
3. Costa Rica might be smaller than most countries, but it has a lot of biodiversity. At 19,700 mi2 (51,100 km2) in area, it makes up just a tiny 0.03% of the world’s surface area. However, it is home to more than 5% of the Earth’s biodiversity!
4. And, it’s very environmentally progressive. The New Economics Foundation’s (NEF) Happy Planet Index has ranked it first two different years out of all the countries in the world as far as environmental sustainability. Also, almost 100% of its electricity is generated from green energy sources, and it’s aiming to soon be a carbon-neutral country.
5. It’s the first country in Central America to legalize same-sex marriage. On May 26, 2020, President Carlos Alvarado Quesada wrote on Twitter: “Today we celebrate liberty, equality and our democratic institutions. May empathy and love be the compass that guide us forward and allow us to move forward and build a country that has room for everyone.” (translated from Spanish)
6. Costa Rica is one of the few countries in the world with no standing army. After the short 1948 Costa Rican Civil War, it got rid of its army the next year and hasn’t had one since!
7. Costa Ricans refer to themselves as ticas (female) or ticos (male). While “Costa Rican” is still the official demonym, ticos and ticas are very commonly heard in colloquial speak.
8. You’ll hear the phrase “pura vida” a lot when traveling around Costa Rica. Pura vida is the unofficial slogan of the country, meaning “pure life,” and you’ll hear it as greetings, farewells, and thrown about in other ways. It’s also an attitude and a lifestyle implying a life of ease, contentment, and gratitude.
9. Each morning at 7am, every radio station in the country plays the national anthem. It was once mandatory, as well as for children and teachers in public schools to sing it.
Well, that’s all our Costa Rica facts for now, and we hope you’ve found this post interesting and informative! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other facts about Costa Rica we should include on our list? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!