20 Interesting Facts About Costa Rica

By: Anna Fleet

Costa Rica is a tropical haven in Central America, but there are plenty of facts I bet you didn’t know about this small, peaceful, eco-diverse country.

Here are 20 interesting and lesser known facts about Costa Rica…


1. Pura Vida

“Pura vida” is commonly heard in Costa Rica—it means “pure life” and is often used as a greeting in lieu of “hello” and “goodbye”

Pura vida

2. Ticos & Ticas

Costa Ricans refer to themselves Ticos (for men) and Ticas (for women).

beach love romance

3. Eco-Diversity

One of the most eco-minded countries in the world, 25-percent of land in Costa Rica is protected.

costa rica rain forest

4. It’s Pretty Tiny

Costa Rica is smaller than Lake Michigan in the USA.

costa rica mountain view


5. There’s a Female President

Costa Rica is one of few countries with a female president, Laura Chinchilla, who has held the position since 2010.

costa rica flag

6. Hummingbird Capital

Approximately 52 species of hummingbirds are native to Costa Rica, making it a hummingbird capital.


7. There’s No Army

Costa Rica has had no standing army since 1949.

peace not war

8. Expatriates Love It

Costa Rica is a common retirement choice for American expatriates, many own bars and restaurants here.

ex pat surfing

9. Butterfly Sanctuary

Approximately 10-percent of the world’s butterflies live in Costa Rica.



10. My Other Half…

Costa Ricans playfully refer to their partners as “media naranja,” which means “the other half of my orange.”

beach wedding

11. Public Etiquette

Blowing your nose in public is frowned upon in Costa Rica—in fact it’s seen as downright impolite and disgusting.

Bora Bora

12. Education for All

Poor children who can’t go to school take classes via Costa Rica’s national radio station.

Museum of Science Boston

13. Creepy-Crawlies

There are an estimated 20,000 species of spiders in Costa Rica—yuck!


14. Bordered By Two Oceans

The country is surrounded by 800 miles of coastline, by both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

costa rica ocean


15. Ethnic Diversity

Fewer than 1-precent of Costa Ricans are indigenous—much of the population hails from Africa so many Ticas and Ticos speak Spanish and Patois.

costa rica locals
Daniel Korzeniewski / Shutterstock.com 

16. Peace Between Chaos

Costa Rica is a peaceful gem in the midst of turbulent countries—with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.

map of central america

17. Best Time to Visit

Costa Rica’s summer dry season runs from December to April, and is the best time to visit.

Portinho da Arrabida Beach, Setubal Portugal

18. Monkeys Galore

Monkeys are bananas for Costa Rica, with four common species—the Howler, Squirrel, Spider, and White-Faced monkey.


19. Proud Democracy

Costa Rica is Central America’s longest-standing democracy.



20. The Sunset is Very Punctual

The sun rises and sets at the same time in Costa Rica—365 days a year!

costa rica sunset