I have to admit, I didn’t know too much about Costa Rica the first time I visited. Ever since moving to Costa Rica, I’ve had people ask me how island life is since they confuse it with Puerto Rico! I didn’t realize there was so many common misconceptions about Costa Rica!
So to clear up the confusion, here are important facts about Costa Rica.
This post has been updated in 2018.
Costa Rica Facts
This is one of the most common questions we get: Where is Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is not an island and it is part of the American continent. Costa Rica is in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.
Map of Costa Rica
Costa Rica is not part of Puerto Rico nor is it a territory of the United States. Costa Rica is its own country, having declared independence from Spain on September 15, 1821.
Conventional long name: Republic of Costa Rica
Size: 51,100 km^2 (19,653 sq miles) of land, 50,660 sq km of water. Costa Rica is a little bit smaller than West Virginia.
Official language: Spanish.
Capital: San José
Population: ~4.5 million.
Government: Democratic Republic
President as of April 1, 2018: Carlos Alvarado. He won on April 1, 2018 after no majority was declared in February.
Official Religion: Roman Catholicism, Christianity is the predominant religion.
Costa Rican Currency: Colón, 565 CRC to 1 USD, named after Cristóbal Colón.
Costa Rica Time Zone: CST (UTC-6), Costa Rica does not participate in Daylight Savings Time. The sun rises and sets about 5:30 AM and 5:30 PM every day. It changes about 15 minutes throughout the year.
Calling code: +506 (country code, no zip codes).
Demonym: Costa Rican. Also commonly known as Tico, Tica for women.
Provinces: Costa Rica has seven provinces, not states. They are San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, Guanacaste, Puntarenas, and Limon. There are also 81 cantons and 473 districts.
Latitude and Longitude: 8 to 12 N, 82 to 86 W
Ethnic groups: 65% White/Castizo, 14% Mestizo, 9% Immigrants, 7% Mulatoo, 2.5% Amerindian, 1% Black, .2% Asian
Legal drinking & driving age: 18. Costa Rica drives on the right side.
Healthcare system: Universal health care to workers.
Average monthly salary: ~$800 USD a month. Costa Rica goes by monthly salaries.
Costa Rica has 14 National Holidays.
Staple Foods: Rice, beans, corn.
Biodiversity: 5% of the world, .25% of the world land mass.
There are 26 national parks in Costa Rica, 10 biological reserves, 61 wildlife refugees, 31 protected zones.
3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Coco Island, Area de Conservación Guanacaste and La Amistad International Park
Plant Species: 9000
Reptilian Species: 220
Mammalian Species: 205
Insect Species: 4,000
Bird Species: 840
Amphibian Species: 160
Coastline: 1, 290 km (801 miles)
Highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m.
Active volcanoes The highest volcano is the Irazu Volcano (3,431 m or 11,257 ft). The largest lake is Lake Arenal and this is a man made lake.
Costa Rica Weather: 2 seasons, rainy and dry. Tropical climate year round.
Literacy rate: 94.9%.
Longevity: Average lifespan of 79.3 years. The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the Blue Zones in the world where people live into their 100’s.
Agriculture: Bananas, coffee, beef, sugarcane, rice, vegetables and fruits
Driving side: Right side
- Costa Rica became the first country in the American continent to ban recreational hunting in 2012.
- “Costa Rica” means rich coast in Spanish. Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus) named it that when he saw the beauty of the country.
- The country is a leader in renewable energy and has over 300 days in 2017 of using only renewable energy. It wants to become one of the first countries to ban single use plastic.
- San Jose, the capital city was one of the first in the world to have electricity.
- Costa Rica abolished its army in 1948 after a civil war. They have had not had an army since then, therefore all the money goes towards healthcare and education.
If you like this article, follow us on Facebook for more Costa Rica travel tips and inspiration!
If you’re interested in reading more about Costa Rica besides the facts, check out Yeison’s perspective of Costa Rica as a Tico.
Read more posts about Costa Rica below!