Visiting a different country is always exciting. It presents you not only with an opportunity to see new places but also gives in insight into diverse cultures.
Are you planning a trip to Costa Rica? If so, then knowing a bit about what is Costa is Rica famous for will ensure that you reap the maximum benefit from your visit.
What is Costa Rica famous for? Costa Rica is a diminutive Central American republic sandwiched by Nicaragua and Panama and coastlines on the Pacific and Caribbean. It is a great holiday destination with amazing landscapes and vast biodiversity. Its vibrant culture has indigenous origins with Spanish colonialism, and a touch of Afro-Caribbean culture.
The traveler in me has always been attracted to places that are away from the normal tourist circles. Therefore, when I first looked it up on the map I found it quite interesting.
A short strip of land that connects the northern and Southern landmass of the American continents is, after all, something very distinct. However, it’s relatively small size made me wonder how much would be there see?
Or just how safe it would be for a solo traveler?
All the doubts were laid to rest after researching Costa Rica. This place certainly deserves to be in the bucket list of your tourist circle circuit that you should not miss.
Here is a comprehensive list of 29 travel facts about Costa Rica. They form several exciting itineraries that will keep you enthralled for days.
Costa Rica’s Ecological Contribution to the World
What will strike you most regarding Costa Rica is its natural environmental beauty. It is a nation dedicated to contributing to overall ecological effort and wildlife protection.
Despite its diminutive size, it is home to as much as 5% of the world’s wildlife and plant species.
More than a quarter of its landmass covers rustic forest tracts that offer a sanctuary to wildlife, providing them with their natural habitat.
Costa Rica’s National Parks
Costa Rica boasts of having an impressive 26% of its land in the form of 31 preserved zones.
It has 10 natural preserves, 26 national parks, and more than 60 other wildlife refuges.
The diversity of the plant and animal life is something special what is Costa Rica famous for and is bound to hold you spellbound.
For a small nation this size, Costa Rica has as many as above 200 medium and large volcanic structures.
Almost 6 of these have shown eruptions in the recent past, while 61 others, though dormant, cannot be taken for granted.
NOTE: A visit to volcanoes can be an exhilarating experience, especially if you are interested in the geological past.
Visit Famous Volcanoes
Out of Costa Rica’s many volcanoes, here is a selection of what is Costa Rica famous for:
The last of the Arenal’s eruptions took place in 2010. It is Costa Rica’s most-visited volcanoes which you should not miss.
There are, however, many other volcanoes that are worth exploring. Most are caldera volcanoes — volcanoes that now have a large crater, which may be filled with water and rising steam.
This is a part of what is now known as Poas Volcano National Park. It last erupted in April 2017, leading to a massive evacuation effort.
There is restricted permission to go up to the observation area. This volcano is characterized by a lake within its crater.
This is Costa Rica’s tallest volcano at 3,432 m. It is set in the Irazú Volcano National Park of the Immaculate Montane Forest.
It is a must-visit for you, as its summit will give you an unhindered view of both the coasts.
Costa Rica’s Size
Costa Rica ranks at 129th as far as the size of the landmass is concerned. With just 19700 square miles landmass, it lists among the smallest nations on Earth.
But that is where the comparison ends. Its small size notwithstanding, it offers you a natural mix of rolling hills, lush river valleys, and vast open plains.
Costa Rica’s Four World Heritage Sites
What makes this country unique is the fact that when it comes to the numbers of natural resources.
It has as many as 4 UNESCO Heritage sites for you to explore (out of these, three natural and one cultural) you will enjoy soaking in the natural beauty of their surroundings.
These sites are:
- Area-de-Conservación Guanacaste (1999)
- Coco’s Island’s National Park (1997)
- Pre-Columbian Settlements of the Diquís (2014)
- The Talamanca Range- La Amistad National Park (1983)
Costa Rica Has No Army
This may come as a big surprise to many that Costa Rica has no standing army!
Yes, you heard that right!
After its last civil war in 1948, the abolition of its armed forces was brought into effect by its constitution during 1949.
For its survival against military invasion, it depends upon an Inter-American Treaty, in which 21 countries promised to give military assistance to Costa Rica as a part of the Reciprocal Assistance treatise.
NOTE: The revenue saved from defense spending goes to improve health care, social safety, and education.
Sound Administrative Policies
While on the one hand, most of its neighboring countries like El Salvador, Panama, Honduras, and Guatemala, are disturbed by poverty, civil unrest, corruption, and violence, Costa Rica stands out amidst all this chaos.
Costa Rica is the lone country in this region with a claim to a reasonable level of administrative stability, financial prosperity, and contentment.
The Costa Ricans follow a philosophy that you will perceive in every sphere of their life.
In essence, it elucidates into “pure life,” and defines an ordinary Costa Rican’s approach to life. That is, to life to its fullest. It is a phrase that you will find being used even for day to day greetings.
To them, it simply means “everything is good”.
Costa Ricans Rank No1 in the Happiness Index
The Happiness Planet’s Index survey uses three basic criteria to gauge the level of contentment and happiness of people across the world.
Not surprisingly, Costa Rica figures at No 1 among the 151 surveyed nations.
Apparently, the philosophy of Pura Vida has its merits when it comes to creating happiness in life.
Commitment to Green Energy
One of the things that Costa Rica famous for is that it produces as much as 98% of its electrical power by using sustainable resources. This is the highest by any country in the world.
Costa Rica is truly increasing the prospect of working on renewable energy sources and presents a viable model for other nations to follow.
While its unique geographical features do play a significant role, this has mainly been achievable because of its dedication to sustainability; Costa Rica aims to be entirely carbon-neutral by the year 2021.
Affordable Health Care
Costa Rica has “CAJA” – a social health care system that covers the whole society based upon a small monthly payment as per a minor portion of their income.
It is of reasonable quality and quite effective. It is not uncommon to come across indigenous Costa Ricans living well within their 90’s and 100’s.
Costa Rica generally has comparatively calm weather with no major anxieties of tornadoes or hurricanes.
It’s only recorded tryst with hurricane happened in 2016 that produced a lot of damage caused by flooding.
The range of climates is quite varied with cold nights in the mountainous regions and typically tropical and humid near the beaches.
Costa Rica’s Seasons
For a visitor, what matters most is to avoid getting caught in the rain, which can dampen your plans.
There are essentially only two seasons in Costa Rica: the Rainy season that lasts from mid-Dec to the end of April.
Its dry season pretty much lasts during the balance of the year. You do get some showers now and then during which it becomes very humid too.
A Vibrant Tourism Industry
As you would have guessed by now, it is the tourism industry gets Costa Rica’s maximum foreign exchange. It leverages heavily upon the abundantly available natural beauty.
Its assorted landscape gives you two main oceans with extensive coastlines, countless adventure activities, and unmatched biodiversity. It has almost 3 million visitors every year.
Amazing Butterfly Population
With as many as 1,200 distinctive varieties of butterflies, and roughly 18 % species of the world, Costa Rica is an ideal habitat.
Even if you are not into butterfly watching, you are bound to encounter some of them wherever you go!
Of course, if you want to do some study, you will get ample opportunity in the special gardens, parks, as well as in the forests.
Ticos and Ticas
These are the terms that you will routinely encounter while in Costa Rica.
These are however used colloquially for males and females respectively.
Tico is also used to refer to the general population.
Over 50 species of Hummingbirds
There are almost 338 varieties of hummingbirds.
The tiniest of them weighs barely two grams and the biggest around 11.5 grams.
Some of them are migratory, and one is on the verge of extinction.
The Mangrove Hummingbird
This is a small bird that lives exclusively in mangrove forests of Costa Rica along its Pacific coast.
There are threats to its survival as its main source of food (the mangroves), are also threatened by climate change.
With the sea levels rising, the mangrove hummingbird’s habitat is on the verge of disappearing.
Affordable Cost of Living
It is one of the most pocket-friendly and affordable places for tourists as well as locals alike.
Unique Sunrise and Sunset
Costa Rica’s geography, as well as its small size, makes it possible for you to enjoy the beauty of the sunrise as well as the sunset on the same day.
Its Caribbean coast has many beaches that are ideal for watching the magnificence of the sun rising from the horizon; the Pacific coast lets you see the sunset across the vast stretch of water.
High Average Life Expectancy
Would you believe it if you were told that many inhabitants in Costa Rica are above 80 years of age?
One of the outstanding features what is Costa Rica Famous for is the high average life expectancy of above 80 years.
Costa Rica is known to have the longest life expectancies world over.
FUN FACT: At Nicoya, located at its western coast, the inhabitants are known to live well beyond the age of 100!
With origins that date back to 1852, the Costa Rican national anthem was first played to greet the diplomatic representatives of the UK and the USA.
Its lyrics were written by Jose Maria Zeledon and music was composed by Manuel Maria Gutierrez.
It was nevertheless formally declared as its National Anthem in 1949. The average Costa Rican’s national fervor remains high as all the Costa Rican Radio Stations start their day by playing it at 7.00 a.m.
Colorful Currency Notes
When you first see the Costa Rican money you are bound to find it as vibrant as the region itself.
Every category of the currency highlights a distinctive scenery and creature chosen from its vast biodiversity.
You will find attractive images of the capuchin monkey, blue morpho butterfly, white-tailed deer, etc, that are easily spotted here.
If you are a plant lover, then you have an additional surprise waiting for you.
For a place that has an unmatched beauty of the landscape with a fascinating ecosystem, it is natural to see some of the most exquisite orchids. No wonder that Guaria Morada, an orchid is the national flower of Costa Rica.
With almost 1400 diverse varieties of Orchids, you simply cannot ask for more! There is a whole world of Orchids out there, some so tiny that you will have difficulty seeing with your naked eye.
Costa Rican Surnames
Despite the obvious Spanish influence, the Costa Rican society has a different tradition about their surnames.
Unlike the western culture, the Costa Rican ladies do not change their surnames after marriage.
Moreover, their children adopt two Surnames – their father’s followed by their mother’s.
Fun and Fiestas
Like most South American nations, Costa Rica has a tradition of hosting fiestas round the year. These are a great source of merrymaking.
If you want to get a real feel you, simply let your hair down and be like local. There are many events, and some of them will surely interest you. You will come across live bands, horse parades, dodgy rides, carnival games, regional food stalls, etc.
If you are lucky, you may also see some authentic bull riding competitions, which are a huge draw among the locals.
Isla Del Coco
Isla del Coco is a Spanish taxonomy of the Cocos Island National Park. What is more baffling is that it is almost 550 km away into the Pacific.
It is also the world’s largest uninhabited island that recently came to limelight in the film opening sequence of the film Jurassic Park.
Ideal for Scuba Diving buffs, it is a place worth a visit. The waters around it are home to the famous hammerhead sharks. Many other forms of exquisite aquatic life include large pelagic fish, dolphins, rays, and a considerable number of marine species.
Culture Shock: Street Names
For a person used to find your way using road signs and proper street addresses, you will be in for a real cultural shock.
Simply speaking, Costa Ricans have never used street names or addresses. To make it even more flustering, there are no PIN codes either!
Navigation used to be pretty challenging for outsiders until the advent of Google maps.
NOTE: Even to date, the locals use the waypoint system of references with a reference to landmarks when it comes to giving out an address.
Some Other Minor Interesting Facts
What is The Official Language in Costa Rica? Having been a colony of Spain for almost three centuries, the influence on its culture is obvious. Hence its official language is Spanish. There are those who use English as well as French too but they are limited to those associated with the tourism industry and business partnerships.
What is the Capital of Costa Rica? San José, with a population of close to a million, is the capital of Costa Rica. It is also the largest city and its geographic location nestled between mountains gives it a pleasant climate throughout the year.
What is the Main Religion in Costa Rica? Spanish influence can be seen in every sphere of life, and that includes religion as well. Most Costa Ricans follow Christianity and are Roman Catholics
How many Provinces are there in Costa Rica? Despite its relatively small size, there are seven provinces in Costa Rica. Among these San Jose and Alajuela are is the most recognized while the others, i.e. Cartago, Heredia, Limon, Guanacaste, and Puntarenas are also having their own place in the rich cultural history.
Where did Costa Rica get its Name From? Finally, here is an interesting fact about the name “Costa Rica”. It was the original name given by Christopher Columbus on discovering its raw beauty and means “rich coast” in Spanish.