57 Interesting Facts About Costa Rica

Last updated on February 26th, 2017 at 08:15 am

Costa Rica, even the name itself sounds fun. With beautiful sandy beaches, lined with rows of magnificent palm trees, plenty of wildlife reserves excellent for outdoor adventures, and world-class beach resorts, the name Costa Rica rings paradise. If you have never toured this beautiful Caribbean tourism hot spot, worry not for you can take a tour of these 57 interesting facts about Costa Rica.

A beautiful sunset in Costa Rica
A beautiful sunset in Costa Rica. Image credit – kansasphoto

Facts about education, churches, biodiversity, golden toad, night clubs, coffee …

1. Call it Literacy or the love for education. Costa Rica has the highest rural literacy rate at 96% for children. This means that nearly all children in rural Costa Rica are learned.

2. As the rest of the world knows Soda as a soft drink, in Costa Rica, this is a small restaurant that serves cheap food such as rice, chicken, salad, and beans for only US $3 per plate.

3. As you call your lover or spouse “my better half,” Costa Ricans call theirs “the other half of the orange” (Media Naranja).

4. You can call it superstition or whatever you want to, but in Costa Rica, all Catholic Churches face west.

5. In Costa Rica, streets are not named using names but by the distance between that street and the next landmark.

6. Did you know that Costa Rica is smaller than Lake Michigan? Yes, it is; this is if you measure it from Northwest to Southwest.

Interesting facts: Costa Rica on World Map
Interesting facts about Cost Rica: Costa Rica on World Map

7. Though Costa Rica is tiny and only takes 0.03% of the earth space, 4% of life is found here making it among the top 20 most biodiverse countries in the world.

8. If you give birth in Costa Rica, the locals will not say you gave birth; they will say you gave light (Ella dio a luz).

9. Now this one is a funny one. Do you know that Costa Rican people call speed bumps dead persons or son muertos? Now you know.

10. When you visit Costa Rica and ask a taxi guy to take you to a nightclub, you will be taken to a strip club! Costa Ricans call strip clubs, nightclubs.

11. Do you know that the orchid, which is the national flower for Costa Rica was named after male genitals by a Greek physician named Dioscorides? According to him, this flower resembles male genitals.

12. If you are a coffee taster in Costa Rica, then you are as important as a wine taster in France. These coffee tasters undergo five years of training to differentiate these tastes.

13. Do you know that Escazú, which is the richest suburb in San Jose, was built in a place where history has it that witchcraft was practiced? Now you know.

14. Mail is part of the independence story of Costa Rica. When the country received its independence in 1821, it took a month for the people to know of about it, as news of it had to be conveyed via mail by a mail courier on a mule who took a month to get to the people.

15. The rare golden toad only resides in the Monteverde rainforest reserve. For this reason, it was picked as of the symbols of this Costa Rican town.

Interesting facts about Costa Rica - The rare golden toad
The rare golden toad. Image credit – cuatrok77

Facts about turtle eggs, Jesus Christ lizard, golf rush, unofficial Costa Rican country

16. As a sign of homage, Costa Rica’s main airport was named after Juan Santamaria, who volunteered and succeeded to torch Fort Rivas in Nicaragua. Though he was shot dead in the process, he still lives on as the national symbol for freedom in Costa Rica.

17. Do you know that Costa Ricans have a substitute for plasma? Well, they believe that the liquid inside fresh, green coconut is pure enough to serve as plasma in case of an emergency.

18. You can call it the hummingbird capital of planet earth. Costa Rica has a quarter of the 300 hummingbird species found on earth, impressive for a country its size.

19. Tico and Ticas, this 2 words rhyme, right? Well, this is what native Costa Ricans call themselves.

20. Costa Rica does not have a standing military force.

21. Do you want to see turtle eggs? Then visit Ostional National Wildlife Refuge from April to December. Over 100,000 Olive Ridley turtles leave behind nearly 10 million eggs during this season at the beaches of the Refuge.

22. It is a crime to drive your car into San Jose on the day of the week that corresponds to the last number on the car’s license plate.

23. In the 1980s, government officials closed Corcovado National Park to evict farmers. This was after 25-lb of gold was found in the park thus created a gold rush that turned farmers to prospectors.

24. If you are in Costa Rica, you will know at exactly what time to expect sunrise or sunset. The reason behind this is that it is close to the equator.

25. Do you know that there is a species of lizard native to Costa Rica named after Christ? Well, this lizard called Basilisk can run across the surface of the water when alarmed. Maybe this is why it is called Jesus Christ lizard.

Jesus Christ lizard, Costa Rica
Interesting Facts About Costa Rica: Jesus Christ lizard. Image credit – Gillian Thompson

26. Do you know that there is a small unofficial country in Costa Rica called Airrecú formed in 1995? Well. This country though not recognized by the government of Costa Rica and the UN has a population of 5,000 citizens, a flag, soldiers, and a national anthem.

27. Do not be surprised to hear that a Costa Rican has been to space. Well, not via a Costa Rican rocket launch, but through NASA. His name is Dr. Franklin R. Chang-Diaz.

28. Geovanny Escalante from Costa Rica held the world record in 1998 for holding the longest single saxophone note. This note was 90 minutes and 45 seconds long.

29. The word Costa Rica means Rich Coast.

30. The rain in Costa Rica has, at least, twelve known names.

Facts about deadly snakebites, bananas, penicillin, coffee, rivers …

31. Costa Ricans first tasted coffee in 1779, just three years after the US declaration of independence. The coffee came from Jamaica.

32. Do you love bananas? Then consider moving to Costa Rica. They are the second largest exporters of bananas in the world.

33. If you come across fer-de-lance long pit viper, say your final prayer as this might be your last day alive. This snake is responsible for over 80% of deadly snakebites in Costa Rica.

34. If you love liquor, then while in Costa Rica, consider the Guaro. This is a relatively sweet and efficient moonshine rum manufactured from distilled sugar cane.

35. Well, this is unheard off. Rarely will you find a manmade lake as the biggest lake in a country. However, this is the case in Costa Rica; its largest freshwater lake is Lake Arenal.

Interesting facts about Costa Rica: Lake Arenal
Interesting facts about Costa Rica: Lake Arenal. Image credit – Alex.Patino

36. Contrary to popular belief, Penicillin was discovered in Costa Rica. This, however, is according to Costa Ricans who claim that Dr. Clodomiro Picado discovered it in 1927.

37. Compared to its size, Costa Rica has the second highest number of rivers and water bodies in the world. This number of rivers can be attributed to the massive rains due to the presence of a rainforest.

10 Costa Rica facts for kids

38. A quarter of Costa Rica’s land space has been set aside for national parks and refuges making it an awesome place to visit and see wildlife.

39. Unlike in the USA and other parts of Europe, Costa Rica does not have winter, but a dry season from December to April thus a perfect place to visit with your family.

40. Many Americans retire in Costa Rica.

41. Most Costa Ricans are expected to live more than 77 years old.

42. Most door locks in Costa Rica work backward, so when opening a door lock and you think that it is stuck, just turn the key backward.

43. Most Costa Ricans are short. So if you visit there, expect to find a little bit smaller furniture than you are used to.

44. Children in Costa Rica are called their father’s name.

45. When you buy milk in Costa Rica, it is packaged in plastic papers. These papers have to be cut at the edge so be careful not to do it carelessly or else you will be covered in milk.

46. When you meet a Costa Rican and what to say Hi, you can say pura vida. Pura vida means pure life.

47. Children who come from destitute families and cannot go to school are taught through radio lessons.

10 facts about Costa Rican culture

We have gone through the general facts about Costa Rica; now it is time to go through some facts about the Costa Rican Culture.

48. If you marry a Costa Rican woman, do not expect her to take your name. They maintain their maiden name and that of their mother. So heads up.

49. Greetings are made formal enough and not too casual in Costa Rica. For instance, hugs are reserved for family and very close friends.

50. The Costa Ricans have a day for the cow herders. This day is known as the Dia de los Boyeros is celebrated in honor of cow herders.

51. If you are supposed to meet a Costa Rican, expect him or her to arrive 30 minutes late. This lateness they refer to as la hora tica.

52. Men in Costa Rica express appreciation for beauty by whistling, complementing, or staring. So if you visit Costa Rica, be polite when this happens to you.

53. Costa Ricans love peace and do not refrain from disappointing others. For instance, instead of saying no, a Costa Rican will say maybe.

54. It is rather impolite to put your feet on furniture if you visit someone in Costa Rica.

55. When giving someone a flower as a present, avoid lilies as these flowers are only for funerals.

56. Traditionally in Costa Rica, the typical meal during Christmas and other special occasions are tamales. So if you are in Costa Rica during Christmas, expect to eat lots of it.

57. During Christmas in Costa Rica, it is a tradition that the Nativity Scene or El Portal be showcased. This casting shows the birth of Jesus.

With a lot more interesting things about Costa Rica, we hope that our tour of this beautiful country has been entertaining and educational.

Quick facts about Costa Rica

Capital CitySan José
9°56′N 84°5′W
Largest CitySan José
9°56′N 84°5′W
Total Area51,100 sq km
Population4,814,144 (July 2015 est.)
Official LanguageSpanish
BordersNicaragua and Panama
CurrencyCosta Rican colón (CRC)
ReligionRoman Catholicism
Life expectancy78.4 Years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatetropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands
Terraincoastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major active volcanoes
Natural resourceshydropower
Agricultural land37.1%
Birth rate15.91 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate4.55 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio1.01 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Independence15 September 1821 (from Spain)
National symbolyiguirro (clay-colored robin); national colors: blue, white, red
National anthem"Himno Nacional de Costa Rica" (National Anthem of Costa Rica)
Industriesmedical equipment, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
Exports$9.756 billion (2015 est.)
bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; beef; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment
Imports$15.44 billion (2015 est.)
raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials
GDP - per capita (PPP)$15,500 (2015 est.)
Time ZoneCST (UTC−6)
Internet users2.877 million
percent of population: 59.8% (July 2015 est.)
Internet country code.cr
Calling Code+506
Drives on theRight


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