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.
I can understand it to an extent. You don’t hear too much about Costa Rica in the news except for how criminals escape there to avoid being arrested or tidbits about how many monkeys there are in the country.
After traveling for the past few years, you realize how many facts get mixed up when people rely on media for their information, especially movies and websites.
So to clear up the confusion, here are a few important facts about Costa Rica, a small country in Central America (the name means rich coast in English).
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
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, 504 to 1 for the dollar, named after Cristóbal Colón (You can check here for the official change rate)
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
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. Declared independence from Spain on Sept. 15 1821 (Their Independence day) Abolished army in 1948 by José Figueres Ferrer, the president at that time.
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
Costa Rica became the first country in the American continent to ban recreational hunting – 2012
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
If you’re interested in reading more about Costa Rica besides the facts, check out Yeison’s perspective of Costa Rica as a Tico.
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