30 Fun Facts About Costa Rica


1. Costa Ricans call themselves Ticos and Ticas.

2. Costa Rica is slightly smaller than Lake Michigan.

3. There are 800 miles of coastline, both on the Atlantic and Pacific.

4. Costa Rica border Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.

5. It only takes up .03% of planet’s surface but holds 5% of its biodiversity!

6. There are over 130 species of fish, 220 of reptiles, 1,000 butterflyes (10% of the world’s butterflys are in Costa Rica!), 9,000 plants, 20,000 species of spiders and 34,000 species of insects!

7. More than 25% of Costa Rican land is protected national parks and refuges.

8. They don’t really have summers and winters like the USA, but a dry season that runs December-April and a rainy season that runs May-November.

9. The average life expectancy of 77 years is one of the highest in the world.

10. Costa Rica has a female president, Laura Chinchilla.

11. Costa Rica has no standing army.  It was constitutionally abolished in 1949.

12. They claim a 96% literacy rate.  In very poor and rural areas, where children can’t get to schools, they teach classes over a national radio station.

13. Costa Rica is a popular choice for American expatriates who want to retire in the tropics.

14. When a woman is pregnant they say she is “con luz,” or “with light.”

15. A saying I love is that when someone is your significant other, your other half, they are your “media naranja,” or the other half of your orange.

16. “Pura vida” is the national saying, which means “pure life,” a sunny, feel good expression used as a greeting, goodbye, or if someone asks how you are doing.

17. The average Tico makes $6,000 a year and the average wage labor is $10 per day, the highest in Central America.

18. Costa Rica is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2012.

19. San Jose is only a 2 hour flight from Miami and 3 ½ from New York.  They have nonstop flights from New York, Houston, and Miami.

20. Names are confusing in Costa Rica.  Ticas do not take their husband’s last name.  The woman uses her full maiden name for life.  No changing of national ID cards, drivers licenses, etc.  She also adds her mother’s maiden name. Children take their father’s name.

21. The older generations of Ticos are not tall, so most furniture, like chairs, couches, beds, etc. are built 6-8 inches lower than in the US.

22. Locks (on houses, doors, and gates) almost always work backwards.

23. Milk, eggs, and other perishable items are often sold unrefrigerated.

24. It is common to buy wine in little paper boxes, which you do refrigerate.

25. Often times milk is sold in a little plastic bag, and you have to cut the edge with scissors to open it, which often results in inexperienced gringos covered in milk and putting water on their cereal.

26. Costa Rica is a Catholic country but ensures freedom of religion.

27. Nearly all Catholic churches face west.

29. On the Atlantic Coast, the Caribbean side, most of the population is descended from African roots, like Jamaica, and speak Spanish as well as a patois.

29. A Costa Rican female swimmer won a gold medal in the 1996 summer games in Atlanta.

30. Costa Rica is the longest-standing democracy in Central America.


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Our Managing Director, Alon, has been to over 40 countries in his quest for the perfect adventure. He has biked the death road in Boiliva, trekked 500 miles across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago, cycled from Brussels to Florence and hiked the five sacred mountains of China. Pygmy Elephant is how he spreads his love for adventure and self discovery in the world.

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