I have to admit, I didn’t know too much about Costa Rica before I visited Central America but at least I knew where it was located and what language they spoke.
I didn’t realize there was so many common misconceptions about Costa Rica but some people get Costa Rica confused with Puerto Rico and I’ve had people ask me how island life is doing.
So to clear up the confusion, here are a few important facts about Costa Rica, a small country in Central America.
Facts About Costa Rica
Location: Central America. A ton of people never realize this but America is the whole continent… it’s not just the United States (United States of America). So therefore Costa Rica is indeed part of the American continent.
Conventional long name: Republic of Costa Rica
Declared independence from Spain on Sept. 15 1821 (their Independence day).
Size: 51,100 km^2 (19,653 sq miles) of land, 50,660 sq km of water
Official language: Spanish
Capital: San José
Population: ~4.5 million
Government: Democratic Republic
President as of 2015: Luis Guillermo Solis
Official Religion: Roman Catholicism, Christianity is the predominant religion
Currency: Colón, 565 CRC to 1 USD, named after Cristóbal Colón (You can check here for the official change rate since it changes every day)
GDP: $54. 47 billion total
Time Zone: CST (UTC-6) They do not participate in Daylight Savings Time.
Calling code: +506 (country code, no zip codes)
Demonym: Costa Rican but more commonly known as Tico, Tica for women.
Provinces: 7. San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, Guanacaste, Puntarenas, and Limon. 81 cantons, 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. Drives on the right side.
Healthcare system: Universal health care to workers.
Average monthly salary: ~$600
14 National Holidays
Staple Foods: rice, beans
Biodiversity: 5% of the world, .25% of the world land mass
There are 26 national parks, 10 biological reserves, 61 wildlife refugees, 31 protected zones
3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Coco Island, Area de Conservación Guanacaste and Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves/La Amistad National 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 7
Active volcanoes The highest volcano is the Volcano Irazú (3,431 m or 11,257 ft). The largest lake is Lake Arenal.
Weather: 2 seasons, rainy and dry. Tropical climate year round
Literacy rate: 94.9% (education is very good because the money they would have spent on an army is spent on education instead)
Longevity: average lifespan of 79.3 years (but common to live well past 100 in many parts of the country).
Agriculture: bananas, coffee, beef, sugarcane, rice, vegetables and fruits
Driving side: Right side
Interesting Facts about Costa Rica
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.
Costa Rica is a leader in renewable energy and has over 300 days in 2017 of using only renewable energy.
Costa Rica 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 and all the money goes towards healthcare and education.
The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the “Blue Zones” in the world where it is common for locals to live well into their 100’s.
Prostitution is illegal but being a pimp is not.
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If you’re interested in reading more about Costa Rica besides the facts, check out Yeison’s perspective of Costa Rica as a Tico.