Costa Rica Culture. The culture of Costa Rica, located in the center of the American Continent, is strongly influenced by Spain, as a result of the conquest by this European country. The country was inhabited since at least 5000 years B.C; but these aborigines were few in number in comparison to the big Pre-Columbian civilizations.
Christopher Columbus discovered and baptized Costa Rica in 1502 during his fourth trip. After that, the representatives of the Spanish government and the Catholic Church let the country develop itself, separated from the historic trends of Latin America, making the country very singular for some historians.
Other historians do not agree with this criterion and think that the culture of this nation was strengthened by the influence of powerful indigenous civilizations such as the Incas, in South America, and the Aztecs in North America. Although Spanish influence is evident. Its customs, mainly religious, are part of the folklore of this Central American nation.
The conquerors planted seeds that were the base of future governing descendant generations. Indigenous tribes are less than one percent of the total population of the country. Some characteristics of their legacy survive in the designing of jewelry, leather articles and clothes. Multicultural Society
Costa Rica has been considered as one of the more stable nations of Latin America, characterized by high standards of life and education. It has turned into a multicultural society due to the amount of visitors (some of them now CR residents) from other countries. These people have been attracted by a country described as hospitable and equal, since The Political Constitution guarantees “equality according to law, for citizens and foreigners”.
The official religion in Costa Rica is Catholic, but there is totally freedom of cult.
The Negroes in the Caribbean, descendants from Jamaicans brought here for the construction of the Atlantic Railway are usually protestant. There are also Jewish, Chinese and other communities that keep their own beliefs.
The democracy is not just the form of government of Costa Rica, but also the vertebral spine of this country, where there are more teachers than policemen and where the army was abolished in 1949.
Even the smallest town has electricity service, drinkable water, public or private telephones and, most importantly, it counts with free and compulsory education in elementary and high schools, located all over the territory, along with several health centers ruled by the State.
The presidential and legislative elections take place every four years under the supervision of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (Elections Supreme Tribunal) that is totally independent.
El Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes (Culture, Youth and Sports Ministry) of Costa Ricais in charge of the cultural life. It is supported by the contributions of other public institutions, such as the Costa Rica University, National University and Technological Institute, and several prestigious private academic organizations.
The National Symphonic Orchestra of Costa Rica, founded more than six years ago, is one of the most recognized in America. The cultural project continued with the creation of the Youthful Symphonic Orchestra, both supported by the intervention of well known masters, as the Japanese Chosei Komatzu and the American Gerald Brown.
Within the frame of classic music, it is important to mention the National Symphonic Chorus, the National Lyric Company and the General Direction of Bands, as well as the Castella Conservatory, a secondary institution that is unique in Central America.
Besides this, tropical music has a privileged place in the taste of Costa Ricans, fitting their enthusiasm for dancing. The rhythms of salsa, meringue and the reggae are appreciated in many public and commercial places around the country.
In the field of the scenic arts, the theatrical activity of the country is very dynamic. There is the National Theater Company and the professional career is taught in two state universities, in several private institutions and in the National Theater Workshop. There are 14 independent houses (salas), 3 state auditoriums and some of them are in charge of a specific region.
The cinematography has an important place in the preferences of Costa Ricans. People go frequently to the movies, and there are also several stores that rent videos.
The most played sport in Costa Rica is “futbol” (soccer). The National Selection has been in three World Championship: Italia 1990 (position number thirteenth), Korea-Japan 2002 (position number nineteenth) and recently, Germany 2006 (position thirty-first). The First Division of Football consists of 12 teams.
Due to its peculiarities, in 2006 the UNESCO (United Nations of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared Costa Rica as the capital of the Ibero-American culture.
In 1830, printing arrived to the country, and that allowed the evolution of a very diverse literature. Beside letters, nowadays there are a large amount of artistic branches, such as music, dance, theater, movie, the production of movies and television, painting and sculpture.
It is sure that Costa Ricans, better known as “TICOS”, are very friendly and they welcome visitors with open arms. Nowadays, in Latin America, when people talk about the citizens of this small country in Central America, they identify them with the idiomatic phrase: “PURA VIDA”, that is, people full of happy life.