Costa Rica is a country rich in culture, history, and breathtaking natural beauty. From its lush rainforests to its pristine beaches, Costa Rica is a destination that offers something for everyone. But there is so much more to this Central American gem than just its stunning scenery.
Did you know that Costa Rica has no army and is considered one of the happiest countries in the world? Or that it is home to over 5% of the world’s biodiversity, including over 200 species of mammals and over 800 species of birds?
These are just a few of the fascinating fun facts about Costa Rica that make it such a unique and unforgettable destination. So, whether you’re planning a visit or just curious, read on to discover more about this amazing country.
1. The Geography of Costa Rica
Costa Rica and Nicaragua are separated by natural geographic features such as winding rivers. It isn’t really hard to tell where Costa Rica ends and Nicaragua begins, basically.
To the southeast of the mainland of Costa Rica, you have Panama. However, Costa Rica stretches down a little bit more than this. Because Costa Rica is also responsible for Cocos Island, which is the southernmost part of the country. This is located close to Ecuador.
To the southwest of the country, you will find the Pacific Ocean. To the northeast, you have the Caribbean Sea.
While Costa Rica may be a small country (covering an area of roughly 51,000 square miles) , the landscape of the region is incredibly varied.
Along the coasts, you have beautiful, white sandy beaches. These overlook blue waters. Heading out to sea a little, there are several islands that belong to Costa Rica. However, very few of them maintain populations outside of any Park Rangers that may be controlling the island to help protect them.
There are five different mountain ranges in Costa Rica. Mount Chirripo is the highest mountain in the country, sitting at a lofty 12,540-feet. Some of these mountains have lush forests sitting upon them.
In addition to the mountain ranges, there are multiple volcanoes scattered around the country. In fact, there are 60 volcanoes. 5 of them are still active volcanoes. Because of the location of Costa Rica, the country is prone to earthquakes, albeit very mild ones. This is how the country managed to end up with so many volcanoes.
The rest of the land is rife with winding rivers, lush forests, and agricultural farmland.
In short, Costa Rica is an incredibly beautiful country. It is likely to get even more beautiful too. Costa Rica is one of the only countries on this planet that has not only managed to stop deforestation, but it has reversed the process. This means that more and more trees are being planted.
So, while there is still wood being gathered in the country, it is sustainably gathered. More trees will always end up being planted than cut down. This means that the rainforests of Costa Rica will continue to be around for a long time still.
2. Climate in Costa Rica
Because Costa Rica is located ever so slightly above the equator, the climate of the country reflects that. You aren’t getting seasons like Spring or Fall here. The country has just 2 seasons; Summer and Winter. However, the Winter is unlike anything else you would have experienced. This is because it is a tropical winter.
The summer months in Costa Rica start in December and go all the way through to April. This is called the dry season. While there is a little bit of rain in the country during the dry season, it is fairly minimal.
The rest of the year is the rainy season in Costa Rica. While some may call this winter, it isn’t. Because Costa Rica is so close to the equator, the average temperature doesn’t change all that much. It just gets wetter. In some regions, up to 600cm of rain can fall each year.
Somewhat surprisingly, the rainy season is when Costa Rica gets most of its tourism. This is because it has an impact on some of the watersports activities around the coast of the country such as surfing and fishing, and the rainforests become a lot greener. Don’t worry. It doesn’t really tend to rain constantly during the rainy season. Sure, when it rains, it really rains. However, the early morning tends to be sunny, with showers of rain happening later on in the day.
No matter when you visit Costa Rica, you can expect there to be around 12-hours of sunlight every single day. Again, another benefit of the country being near the equator. Nothing ever changes. This does make it somewhat unusual that the country follows daylight savings time, though.
3. Costa Rica Time Zone
Costa Rica is in the Central Standard Time and 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-6)
Costa Rica does not use Daylight Savings Time and therefore, the clocks do not change in Costa Rica as they do in the United States and in many other parts of the world
4. Population of Costa Rica
The country has a little over 5,100,000 people living there. Almost half of this population lives around the capital of Costa Rica; San Jose. Well, at least in the surrounding Metropolitan area. Only about 350,000 people live in the city itself.
Despite the small population, the country is economically stable, and it has been claimed that the standard of living in Costa Rica is higher than anywhere else in Central America.
6. Language Spoken in Costa Rica
The main language spoken in Costa Rica is Spanish, and it has been since Spanish colonization. However, there are three other languages that are recognized in the region:
- Mekatelyu, which is sometimes known as ‘Jamaican Creole’. which sounds English, albeit with a different sentence structure.
- Bribri was a language spoken by some of the original natives of Costa Rica. However, there are only 11,000 speakers globally now, which means it is not spoken extensively in the country. However, it remains a recognized language.
- Patois is the original version of Mekatelyu (that is a dialect). So, it has an English base from the colonization period, although it has also been heavily influenced by West Africa.
While English is not an officially recognized language in Costa Rica, it is claimed that the majority of the population can speak English to a certain degree. This is why the country is so economically viable. They have managed to tap into international trade.
Costa Rica is a true biodiversity hotspot, with a rich and diverse array of flora and fauna. The country is home to over 5% of the world’s biodiversity, including an astonishing array of different species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and plants.
From the majestic resplendent quetzal bird to the playful monkeys swinging through the trees, there is no shortage of amazing wildlife to be found in Costa Rica. In addition to its terrestrial animals, the country is also home to a wealth of marine life, with an extensive network of coral reefs and vibrant underwater communities along its Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
The country is also home to many national parks and protected areas, which help to preserve its unique biodiversity for future generations to enjoy.
8. One of the happiest countries in the world
Costa Rica is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, and for good reason. The country has a rich culture that places a strong emphasis on living a healthy, balanced, and fulfilling life. Costa Ricans, known as Ticos, have a deep appreciation for the simple things in life, such as spending time with loved ones, enjoying nature, and engaging in meaningful activities.
This laid-back lifestyle, combined with a strong sense of community and a low cost of living, helps to create a happiness that is hard to find in other parts of the world. Additionally, the country is known for its political stability and its commitment to protecting the environment, which helps to contribute to its overall sense of wellbeing.
So, if you’re looking for a destination where you can truly kick back, relax, and find joy in the simple things, then Costa Rica is the place for you.
9. Life Expectancy
Costa Rica is known for its high quality of life and long life expectancy. According to the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy in Costa Rica is around 79 years, which is higher than the average for many other countries in the region. This can be attributed to a number of factors, including the country’s strong healthcare system, its emphasis on healthy living, and its low levels of poverty and inequality.
Additionally, Costa Rica is home to a number of natural hot springs, which are believed to have therapeutic properties, as well as a thriving tourism industry that focuses on eco-tourism and wellness activities. All of these factors, combined with the country’s stunning scenery and relaxed lifestyle, help to create a supportive environment that promotes health and wellbeing.
10. Costa Rica Doesn’t have a Army
One of the most unique and noteworthy aspects of Costa Rica is the fact that it has no army. In 1948, the country made the historic decision to disband its military and redirect the resources saved towards education, healthcare, and environmental protection.
Since then, Costa Rica has become a shining example of a nation that values peace, stability, and the well-being of its citizens above all else. This commitment to non-violence has helped to make Costa Rica one of the safest countries in the world, with low levels of crime and political unrest. Furthermore, the absence of a military has allowed the country to focus on developing a strong and efficient system of law enforcement, which helps to keep its citizens and visitors safe.
11. Why the Country is Called Costa Rica
The name “Costa Rica” is Spanish for “Rich Coast,” and it is a fitting name for this beautiful and abundant country. The name was given by the Spanish conquistadors who arrived in the area in the 16th century and were struck by the wealth of natural resources they found, including gold, silver, and other precious minerals. However, the name is also a testament to the richness of Costa Rica’s culture, history, and people.
Today, Costa Rica is known for its stunning scenery, diverse wildlife, and friendly and welcoming citizens, making it a true gem of Central America.
12. Famous For Its Coffee
Costa Rica is famous for its coffee, and for good reason. The country has a long and rich history of coffee cultivation, dating back to the early 19th century. Today, coffee is one of the country’s main exports and a major contributor to its economy. The warm and humid climate, combined with the rich soil and high elevations, create the perfect conditions for growing high-quality coffee beans.
In addition to its ideal growing conditions, Costa Rican coffee is known for its distinctive flavor, which is a result of the country’s strict quality control standards and traditional methods of production. From small family-owned farms to large coffee cooperatives, Costa Rican coffee producers take great pride in their product and are committed to preserving the tradition and quality of their coffee.
13. Renewable Energy
Costa Rica is a world leader in renewable energy, and is widely recognized for its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable living.
This is due in large part to its extensive use of renewable energy sources, including hydroelectric power, wind energy, geothermal energy, and biomass. As a result of these efforts, over 98% of Costa Rica’s electricity is generated from renewable sources, making it one of the greenest and most environmentally friendly countries in the world.
This commitment to sustainability has not only helped to reduce the country’s carbon emissions, but it has also helped to create a cleaner, healthier, and more livable environment for its citizens.
14. One of the Greenest Countries in the World
Costa Rica is widely recognized as one of the greenest countries in the world, and for good reason. The country is home to some of the world’s most diverse and breathtaking landscapes, including lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and active volcanoes.
In order to preserve this natural beauty, the government of Costa Rica has made a strong commitment to environmental conservation, with over 25% of its land designated as protected national parks, wildlife reserves, and other conservation areas.
These efforts, combined with a thriving eco-tourism industry and a deep cultural appreciation for the environment, have helped to make Costa Rica a model for sustainable living.
15. Why Costa Ricans are called Tico’s and Tica’s
Costa Ricans are affectionately referred to as “Ticos” and “Ticas,” and this nickname is a source of pride for many of the country’s citizens. The origin of the term is somewhat debated, but it is believed to be a derivative of the Spanish word “hermano,” which means “brother.”
The nickname is said to reflect the friendly and welcoming nature of the Costa Rican people, and it has become a ubiquitous part of the country’s national identity. Whether you’re exploring the bustling capital city of San Jose or relaxing on one of the country’s secluded beaches, you’re sure to encounter Ticos and Ticas who are happy to share their culture and traditions with visitors.