Located in Central America, Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua, the Caribbean Sea, Panama, the Pacific Ocean and Ecuador. It is known as a nonviolent, welcoming country and has been named the happiest and most sustainable country on earth, according to the Happy Planet Index. This fact was affirmed by a poll of global analytics and advice firm Gallup.
Here are some interesting facts about this country.
Costa Rica facts
1. Costa Rica became independent in 1821
Up until its independence, Costa Rica was part of New Spain, a territory that was established in the time of the Spanish colonisation and covered Central America and Mexico. However, the Kingdom of Spain got the lion’s share of the profits generated by the people of New Spain. Following the Mexican War, of which Costa Rica suffered little impact, thanks to being a remote part of New Spain, Central America was freed from Spanish rule. An interesting fact about Costa Rica is that it shares its independence day – 15 September – with Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
2. Its last incidence of political unrest was the brutal Costa Rican Civil War
The Costa Rican Civil War lasted 44 days from 12 March to 24 April 1948. It was one of the most violent events in the country’s history, claiming an estimated 2,000 lives. The war was a result of a disputed presidential election that claimed candidate Otilio Ulate’s win in the election was attained through fraud. José Figueres Ferrer led a rebel army that defeated the government of then-President Teodoro Picado, and Ulate became president the following year.
3. Costa Rica has no standing military force
Following the Civil War, President José Figueres Ferrer put an end to the military of Costa Rica on 1 December 1948. Today, this day is known as Día de la Abolición del Ejército (Military abolition day), as declared by President Oscar Arias Sánchez in 1986. Today, Costa Rica has small law enforcement groups, but no permanent standing army, a fun Costa Rica fact.
4. Christopher Columbus gave the country its name
The well-known Italian explorer discovered Costa Rica in1502 and gave it its name, which means ‘Rich Coast’. Columbus believed that Costa Rica was filled with precious metals and saw that many of the inhabitants wore gold jewellery.
5. It is known for its year-round tropical climate
Due to its close proximity to the equator, Costa Rica has warm weather throughout the year. Its average temperature is are 27⁰C /81⁰F(high temperature) and 18⁰C/64⁰F(low temperature).
6. The country’s national flower is a purple orchid
An interesting fact about Costa Rica is that this country has a flower named the “Purple Country Girl,” which is a beautiful purple orchid that is also called “Guaria Morada”. It is said that this flower brings good luck and good fortune. The “Purple Country Girl” has a scientific name too – Cattleya skinneri. James Bateman, an English botanist, gave the flower this name as a tribute to George Ure Skinner, who was known for transporting various Central American flora to his native land.
7. It is the most literate country in Central America
Costa Rica has a literacy rate of 96%. Thanks to many of its leaders who were former teachers, education has been a strong priority in the country. It was also one of the first countries worldwide to make education free and compulsory, an interesting Costa Rica fact. This decision was made in 1869 and today, several schools can be found throughout the country.
8. Costa Rica is home to over 50 hummingbird species
These hummingbird species include two that are unique to Costa Rica: the Mangrove Hummingbird and the Coppery-Headed Emerald Hummingbird. The Mangrove Hummingbird was listed as an endangered species in 2008. It main source of food is mangrove flowers and it can be found only Costa Rica’s coast. The Coppery-Headed Emerald Hummingbird can be found in the Caribbean highlands and Pacific highlands.
9. The country is one of the biggest banana exporters in the world
A fun Costa Rica fact is that banana exports have been a principal contributor to the Costa Rican economy for over 100 years. It is estimated that Costa Rica exported about 120 million boxes of bananas in 2019, reaching about 1 billion dollars’ worth of revenue.
10. Lake Arenal is the biggest man-made lake in Costa Rica
Lake Arenal is situated in the country’s northern highlands. It spans about 85 square kilometres and has a depth of between 30 and 60 meters, depending on the season. The lake was tripled in size in 1979 thanks to the construction of the Arenal dam, which is located on the eastern side of the dam. The construction was a hydro-electric project that formed part of Costa Rica’s green energy strategy.
11. It citizens call themselves Ticos
Costa Ricans often refer to themselves as Ticos, an interesting fact about Costa Rica. This is based on their habit to add the diminutive word tico at the end of words, which adds some warmth and affection to conversations.
12. Its Nicoya Peninsula is a ‘Blue Zone’
Situated on Costa Rica’s western coast, Nicoya is one of only five Blue Zones in the world. A blue zone refers to a region where its people live past the age of 100. Added to this, Costa Ricans have a longer life expectancy overall when compared to this rest of the world, and those living in Nicoya have the best life expectancy of all Costa Rican.
With its focus on biodiversity, education, the well-being of its people and having a stable democracy, Costa Rica is a country that managed to keep itself at peace.
This is evident in the pride its people have in their country and how they celebrate their culture and traditions. The future, without a doubt, looks positive and fruitful for the vibrant Costa Ricans with their pura vida way of life.
I hope that this article on Costa Rica facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!