Spanish is the official language in Costa Rica. The other languages spoken include English, Creole, and some Indian languages. Limonese Creole or Mekatelyu is spoken in the Limón province of Costa Rica on the Caribbean Sea coast. Languages of the original inhabitants of Costa Rica include Bribri, Boruca, Cabecar, Maleku, and other tribes speak different dialects of the Chibchan language. Pura Vida is a very popular saying amongst Ticos (Costa Ricans) and an integral part of Costa Rican culture. It literally translates to Pure Life in English but is moreso a way of life. It simply means enjoying life and living life to the fullest because it is short and one should be happy.
Phrases in Costa Rica:
- Tico/tica Male and female Costa Rican
- Mae Dude
- Tuanis Cool
- Todo bien Everything is good
- Suave un toque Wait a second, hold on
- Salado Tough luck, too bad
- Al chile Really?!
- Guacala Used to refer to something extremely gross (pronounced Wacala)
- Zaguate A street dog
- Soda Small mom and pop restaurant that serves traditional Costa Rican food
Arenal Volcano National Park
This volcano is one of the main attractions in Costa Rica! It is located in Cordillera de Tilarán and has regular activity. It was dormant from 1500 A.D. up until a huge eruption on July 29, 1968. It totaled two villages and killed 82 people. Since then it has been active and ash columns are seen streaming from the crater. On some days, tourists even see glowing red lava flowing down the mountain! The park has hanging bridges, horseback riding and hiking trails, butterfly gardens, zipline tours, marvelous hot springs, and beautiful waterfalls.
Ostional Wildlife Refuge
If visitors are looking for an amazing nature and wildlife experience, this is a top rated place to be! This refuge protects 238 hectares of land, with a 15 km beach where thousands of turtles lay their eggs. The types of turtles that live here are Olive Ridley sea turtles, leatherback turtles, and Pacific green turtles. The first documented occurrence of nesting was in 1959 and the research of this phenomenon began in 1970. The period of time when hundreds of thousands of turtles come to hatch their eggs is called an arribada, which translates to arrival in Spanish. The Ostional Wildlife Refuge has the most production of Olive Ridley turtles in the world.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
In this 25,7000-acre reserve, the humidity is usually 100% and there are more than 3,000 species of animals and plants. It is a great place to see unique habitats due to the moist weather. Tourists see various amphibians and reptiles. Occasionally, they can also spot howling monkeys, jaguars, and pumas.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Located near San Jose, this nature park features 70 acres of land with five famous waterfalls and the largest animal sanctuary in Costa Rica. The La Paz waterfall is the highlight of the park, with a 37 meter drop into a big pool below. There are cloud forests as well as rainforests on this land. The animal sanctuary includes jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, and pumas. It is a wonderful place to see the natural wonders of Costa Rica.
- In 2012, the Happy Planet Index listed Costa Rica as #1 for the happiest country in the world. Going hand and hand with this and the Pura Vida lifestyle, the life expectancy in Costa Rica is 80 years old.
- Nicoya is one of the five Blue Zones on Earth. A Blue Zone is where the lifespan at a location is noticeably longer than the rest of the world. Most of the residents here live until they are at least 90 years old, and centenarians are not out of the ordinary here.
- Costa Rica is the most biodiverse country in the world. It has over 5% of the world’s biodiversity. There are over 500,000 species of wildlife, with 900 of these being birds. Many of these species are classified as rare or endangered.
- Costa Rica has over 200 volcanic formations that have been traced back over 65 million years. It is part of the Pacific Ring Fire Circle and of the 200+ volcanoes, 100 of them showed signs of activity. Only 5 total are considered active today.
- The national anthem plays on most radio stations every morning at 7am.
- Earthquakes are common in Costa Rica. There are small ones daily but major ones only happen about once a decade.
- Costa Rica is one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world. Almost 99% of all energy is renewable and they are set to become the first fossil-free country in the world.
- There is no standing army in Costa Rica. The money that would have been put toward the army was put into education, healthcare and pensions. This adds to the population happiness level.
- Wearing shorts used to be a sign of disrespect in Costa Rica. This changed only a few years ago.
- Milk is sold in plastic bags.
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (TDAP)
- Flu (influenza)
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
- Hepatitis A & B
- Yellow Fever