Costa Rica! A well-known country for its incredible landscapes, beautiful scenery, active biodiversity, and the kindness and smiles of the people. Today we offer you 16 things you might not know about this spectacular country.

Escudo de Costa Rica

  1. More than a quarter of the country is devoted to conservation.

Visitors and locals are completely drawn by Costa Rica’s impressive and natural beauty, and once you notice, you are almost committed to preserving it. With more than 20 national parks, 8 biological reserves, animal refuges, and protected areas, 26 percent of Costa Rica’s land is a protected area.

  1. Tourism has leadership over the country

All that natural beauty and the diverse landscape with two oceans and access to uncountable adventure activities have made Costa Rica one of the greatest vacation destinations in Latin-America. In 1995, tourism overtook bananas and became Costa Rica’s leading foreign exchange earner. Tourism reached an all-time high for Costa Rica in 2013 with 2.4 million visitors.

  1. Costa Rica has four UNESCO world heritage sites.

    Round rock Costa Rica

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has chosen four locations in Costa Rica as World Heritage Sites for their universal cultural and natural worth. They are La Amistad National Park, Cocos Island National Park, Area de Conservaci?n Guanacaste, and the Precolumbian Chiefdom Settlements with Stone Spheres of the Diquis.

  1. Costa Rica is one of the first countries in the world who abolish the army forces

Costa Rica dissolved its national army in 1948, and the abolition of the military was written and sign into the national constitution in 1949. Twenty-one countries, including the United States, signed the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance in 1947, pledging to provide military support to Costa Rica (and any other signee) should they need it. In 1980, the United Nations University for Peace was created and housed in Costa Rica. This doesn’t mean that Costa Rica is defenseless, the country has a strong police force all over the land.

  1. It has one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

According to the World Bank, Costa Rica’s life expectancy at birth is close to 80 years. This figure is higher than that of the United States (which is 79). The Nicoya region of Costa Rica is also one of five Blue Zones ‘longevity hotspots’ occupied by the longest-living people on the planet. All that natural beauty and happiness must be good for us!

  1. There are more than 200 volcanic formations in Costa Rica.

Of these, approximately 112 have shown some type of activity (60 are considered dormant), which means they don’t presently show signs of activity, but could possibly become active again. Arenal is the most active volcano in Central America, while Poas is the second widest volcanic crater in the world, and Irazu (Incredible!) is Costa Rica’s tallest volcano.

  1. Costa Rica is a bit smaller than Michigan lake.

At 19,730 square miles, Costa Rica occupies slightly less territory than Lake Michigan (which measures 22,394 square miles). The country contains 801 miles (1,290 km) of coastline.

  1. Costa Rica is the home to more than 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity.

Costa Rica may not be a large country, but it has a lot of life into its borders. While Costa Rica only occupies 0.03 percent of the world’s surface, it boasts the globe’s highest biodiversity density. The country is home to more than 500,000 species! A wonder I tell you, a wonder! And, with nearly 3 percent of the world’s biodiversity contained in its borders, Corcovado National Park has been deemed ‘the most biologically intense place on the planet’. Which is why we should visit it next.

  1. There is an amazing number of butterflies in Costa Rica

For real, there are so many butterflies? Costa Rica has approximately 90 percent of the butterfly species found in Central America, 66 percent of all neotropical butterflies, and about 18 percent of all butterfly species in the world.

  1. There are also over 50 species of hummingbirds.hummingbird-672302_640

Of the 338 known species of hummingbirds, about 50 live here, in Costa Rica! The smallest Costa Rican hummingbird (the male scintillant hummingbird) weighs only two grams. The largest (the violet sabre swing) weighs an average of 11.5 grams.

  1. In Costa Rica, we call each other Ticos and ticas.

Costa Ricans colloquially refer to ourselves as Ticos (male) and Ticas (female). This stems from their practice of adding the diminutive suffix “tico” to the end of most words. For example, un poco means “a little” in standard Spanish. The typical diminutive is un poquito (a little bit), but Costa Ricans would instead say un poquitico. Hans the name.

  1. Ticos and Ticas in love use a sweet term of endearment.

Costa Ricans use the term ‘Media Naranja’ to refer to their soul mate or the other half. It literally translates to “half an orange.”

  1. Some of Costa Rican radio stations play the country’s national anthem at 7:00 each morning.

The national anthem was first played in 1852 to welcome the United States and United Kingdom diplomatic representatives. The song, with music by Manuel Maria Gutierrez Flores, who dedicate it to Gabriel-Pierre Lafond, and lyrics written by Jose Maria Zeledon in 1903, was officially named Costa Rica’s National Anthem in 1949.

  1. Costa Rica didn’t use street signs until 2012.

While a GPS like Waze (highly recommended) will display street names in Costa Rica, locals use landmarks (past and present) to give directions. To get to the National Theater in San Jose, for example, you would take a “left-hand turn 100 (meters) east of the Popular Bank.” While San Jose residents readily used street names and numbers until the early 20th century, the practice fell off following a population boom in the 1950s and ’60s. Now, we are adopting the street name more accurately.

In 2012, the city undertook a $1 million project to reintroduce street signs and a more regulated postal system to San Jose.

  1. Costa Ricans live by Pura Vida.costa-rica-1178149_640

We, as Costarricans, will often greet one another and bid farewell by saying “Pura Vida.” But Pura Vida, which translates to “pure life,” is more than a turn of phrase to Costa Ricans, it’s a state of mind. We take every opportunity to live life to the fullest. Also, we will use the word in every opportunity we get.

  1. Costa Rica has been ranked as number one in the happy planet index.

With Pura Vida as our philosophy, it comes as no surprise that Costa Rica is considered to be some of the happiest people on Earth. The Happy Planet Index uses three criteria life expectancy, experienced well-being, and Ecological Footprint?to determine the overall happiness levels of 151 countries across the globe. With a score of 64.0, Costa Rica tops this list.


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