56 Interesting Facts About Costa Rica

Last updated on March 4th, 2020

Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica, is a country in Central America. It has an area of 51,100 square km. San José is its capital and largest city. Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica and Costa Rican colón is its official currency. Its land bordering countries are Nicaragua and Panama.

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. 

Facts about education, churches, biodiversity, golden toad, nightclubs, 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.

Flag of Costa Rica

costa rica flag
Costa Rica Flag. Image credit – CIA

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.

Costa Rica on the map

7. 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).

8. 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.

9. 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.

Close up of beautiful colorful tropical orchids in Costa Rica.
Close up of beautiful colorful tropical orchids in Costa Rica.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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.

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

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

Sea turtle eggs in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica.
Sea turtle eggs in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica.

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. 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
Jesus Christ lizard. Image credit – Gillian Thompson

25. 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.

26. 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.

Jazz musician playing the saxophone.
Jazz musician playing the saxophone.

27. 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.

28. The word Costa Rica means Rich Coast.

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

Facts about deadly snake bites, bananas, penicillin, coffee, rivers …

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

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

Eyelash Palm Pit Viper. Poison snake from Costa Rica.
Eyelash Palm Pit Viper. Poisonous snake from Costa Rica.

32. 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.

33. 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.

34. 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
Lake Arenal. Image credit – Alex.Patino

35. 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.

36. 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.

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