The Costa Rica Culture has a curious instruction to history because its land is where the South American culture and the Mesoamerican culture met. The northwest part of the country, where the Nicoya peninsula is, was the southernmost point of Nahuatl (a group of people native to southern Mexico and Central America, including the Aztecs) cultural influence when the conquerors from Spain came to America in the 16th century.

Costa Rica CultureThe central and southern slices of the country had Chibcha (spoken by the Muisca, one of the four advanced indigenous civilizations of America) influences. The Atlantic coast, at the same time, was inhabited by African workers during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Because of the immigration of the Spanish conquerors, and their 16th-century Spanish culture, its evolution impacted everyday life and culture until today, with the Spanish language and the Catholic religion (later, on this article, you can read a glimpse about it) as primary influences.

Here, you can see a bit of how that history developed in our land.

The Costa Rica Culture Department

The Department of Culture, Youth, and Sports (Website here) in Costa Rica oversees the promotion and coordination of cultural life. The labor of the department is divided into Direction of Culture, Music, Visual Arts, Scenic Arts, Patrimony, and the System of Libraries. Permanent programs, like the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica and the Youth Symphony Orchestra, are combinations of two areas of work: Culture and Youth.

Most of the Culture in Costa Rica include Dance!

Dance-oriented genres, such as salsa, soca, bachata, merengue, cumbia, and Costa Rican swing are loved by everyone. The guitar is popular, particularly as an accompaniment to folk dances; yet, the marimba was made the national instrument of Costa Rica.

Popular Saying: How is a life lived?

“Pura Vida” is the most iconic phrase attached to Costa Ricans, are you hear someone mention it, it?s because they know about life in Costa Rica, and it reflects the Costa Rican way of living. Frequently (very), people walking down the streets, or buying food at shops say hello, goodbye, and wish luck, by saying “Pura Vida”, which means, literally, pure life, or the good life. It can be phrased as a question or as an acknowledgment of one’s presence. A recommended response to “How are you?” would be “Pura Vida”.

Read more about it: 16 things you might not know about Costa Rica


Costa Rica Culture

A 2007 survey made by the University of Costa Rica, found out that 70.5% of the population recognize themselves as Roman Catholics (with 44.9% practicing, 25.6 percent no practicing), 13.8% are Evangelical Protestants, 11.3% report that they do not have a religion, and 4.3% declare that they belong to another religion.

There are numerous other religious festivals in the country; Costa Rica has various religious denominations: Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Scientology, Rastafari, Taoism, Jehovah’s Witness, and Neopaganism.

Language: What do Costa Ricans Speak?

Costa Rica Culture
Costa Rica Culture

The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. However, as the country is multicultural, there are also many local indigenous languages, such as Bribrí. English is the first foreign language and the second most imparted language in Costa Rica, followed by French, German, Italian, and Chinese. A creole language called Mekatelyu is also spoken in Limón.

Fun fact: The ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad) realized a mobile marketing campaign with the name of “Kolbi” which means tree frog in the indigenous dialect Cabecar southern Costa Rica.

Cuisine Culture: What do we eat?

Costa Rica Culture

Costa Rican cuisine is a mixture of Native American, African, Spanish, and many other food origins. Dishes such as the traditional tamale and many others made of corn are the most characteristic of its indigenous inhabitants and like other neighboring Mesoamerican countries. The Spanish conquerors brought many new elements to the country from other lands, especially spices, and domestic animals. And later in the 19th century, the African flavor made a presence with influence from other Caribbean mixed flavors. This is how Costa Rican cultural cuisine today is very varied, with every new ethnic group who had lately become part of the country’s population influencing the country’s cuisine.


Back in 1996, Claudia Poll won Costa Rica’s first Olympic gold medal.

Costa Rica entered for the first time to the Summer Olympics in 1936 with the fence Bernardo de la Guardia and the Winter Olympics for the first time in 1980 with the skier Arturo Kinch (Curious fact, because in the Costa Rican culture this is not usual). All four of Costa Rica’s Olympic medals were won by the sisters Silvia and Claudia Poll in swimming, with Claudia winning the only gold medal in 1996.

Costa Rica Culture
Costa Rica Culture

Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole! Ticos! Ticos! That’s what the Costa Ricans will say in each of the football matches. Football is the most popular sport in Costa Rica. The national team has played in four FIFA World Cup tournaments and gone to the quarter-finals for the first time in 2014. Its best performance in the regional CONCACAF Gold Cup was runner-up in 2002. Paulo Wanchope, a forward who played for three clubs in England’s Premier League in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is credited with enhancing foreign recognition of Costa Rican football.

We now have Keylor Navas, who after the tournament of 2014, got a position in the Real Madrid in Spain as a goalkeeper.


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