Important Facts to Know About Costa Rica
Dec 01, 2012
Costa Rica is a country that has a lot to prove in various areas, and that's constantly changing. After all, it is not called Costa Rica ("the rich coast" in Spanish) for nothing! It is a country located in Central America and, because of the fact that it is so close to the Equator (9-10 degrees North), it has a perfect tropical climate. Although it is a part of North America geographically, in all other aspects it is as Latin as possible. Its neighbors are Panama to the East and South, Nicaragua to the North and the best part - it has borders on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea!
Over the last 50 years, the country has been developing incredibly fast. In the 1950's, the situation was not good and almost half of the country struggled with poverty, whereas today less than one in five people live in poverty. Things have changed when it comes to life expectancy as well, which has gone from 50 years to the same life expectancy as in the U.S.
The areas where Costa Rican people (or Ticos as they're known) gain their earnings from nowadays are:
Luxurious rainforests, perfect sandy beaches, a climate that is considered the best of the world… these are all ingredients for a country that attracts a lot of tourists! Each part of the country has something worth visiting and that, in addition to the seven slightly different microclimates (all of which are warm) cater to all tastes - even the pickiest tourist will fall in love with Costa Rica. Whether you just want to relax, sunbath, swim in the ocean or are the more adventurous type, you are bound to find an activity for you: surfing, hiking, snorkeling and admiring the tropical fish and wildlife, you name it! The downside is that as Costa Rica is becoming more and more popular, the tourist attractions are getting more chic and less affordable, but they are still not as expensive as other countries, and they are totally worth it!
Costa Rica's economy has developed considerably, in part because of the big companies that have started to open local branches. Thanks to the tax exemptions that the government offers to the people wanting to invest in the country, Costa Rican's are working on microprocessors, in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and many other areas.
Education is very important in Costa Rica and, fair enough, the literacy rate is one of the highest in Latin America; 94.9%. The literacy and education boom happened after 1949, the year the army was abolished and, as promised, was replaced with an army of teachers. Every community has its own primary school as well as high school, in addition the constitution guarantees public education for everyone. Children have to finish their primary education, and high schools, even if not compulsory, are free as well. There are both public and private universities, but the public ones are considered to be the best and, moreover, they offer a large part of their budget to subsidize students that may not be able to afford the education they offer.
General Lifestyle and Cultural Aspects
Costa Rica is sometimes called the Switzerland of Central America, just to give you an idea of the way life here looks. It is a peaceful country because of its lack of armed force, and that fact can be seen in their relaxed lifestyle too. The official language is Spanish, and the Costa Ricans have a lot of things in common with their other Latin "relatives"- even if they may seem to be relaxed, they know how to party, have fun and are passionate about everything!
The Costa Rican culture is a combination of the Mesoamerican and native South American cultures, influence that is even more visible in the cuisine. Spanish, Native American, African and a lot of other cuisines have been blended into their delicious, traditional meals. Some of them are dishes made of corn, such as tamales, which are representative to other Central and South American countries as well.
The cultural influence of the Spanish conquistadors is shown in the dance-related music genres, which are, unfortunately, less popular among young people than years ago: salsa, meringue, soca, bachata and cumbia are just a few of them. When it comes to musical instruments, the guitar is the most popular, especially when accompanying folk dances.
1949 was an important year in Costa Rica for religion as well. The new constitution guaranteed people the freedom of expressing and following their religious beliefs. As in all the other Latin countries, the dominant religion is Roman Catholicism, but there are also Protestants, Mormons, agnostics and so on.
All in all, the Costa Rican lifestyle can be described in just two words: "pura vida"; this is the phrase that you will hear the most often, and it suits the people perfectly. "Pura vida" or good life, pure life has become more popular than "hello" among the locals. It can also be used to answer the question: "How are you?" It is a statement for the Costa Rican people, who just want to live their life peacefully, enjoy every minute of it and be happy. They are peaceful and incredibly helpful, so tourists will always be welcome among them, despite the possible communication problems: most Costa Ricans do not speak English, even if the language is widely spoken in the tourist areas.
Whether you are looking for the next destination for your holiday or for a nice place to live, Costa Rica is worth paying a visit. With its great location, perfect weather, relaxed lifestyle, beautiful rainforests and varied wildlife, one can easily claim that Costa Rica is heaven on Earth!
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