23 Interesting Facts About Costa Rica

Written By: The Planet D

Costa Rica is a dream destination for many people. With its mystical cloud forest, active volcanoes, abundance of jungle and wildlife, it is the perfect place for adventure lovers.

We had the pleasure of visiting Costa Rica for the first time last year and thought it would be a nice introduction to the country to share some interesting facts about Costa Rica that we discovered during our trip.

Fun Facts About Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its volcanoes, cloud forests and sandy beaches.

Located in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica is a small country bordered by the Pacific and Atlantic oceans on either side.

But don’t be fooled by its small size. Costa Rica has plenty of good food, excellent coffee, and adventure for the perfect getaway. 

Travel to and from Costa Rica is relatively simple from the Americas. Before you go, here are some Costa Rica facts to help you get acquainted with your destination!

Where can you go to find beaches, mountains, and rain forests? If you want to experience all of these environments in one trip, grab your travel gadgets and get to Costa Rica!

1. Watch the Sunrise and Sunset in One Day

costa rica facts sunset

Your beach vacation just got better! Because the Pacific Ocean borders Costa Rica on one side and the Atlantic Ocean borders the other side, you can watch the sunset and the sunrise all in one day. 

Choose a spot in the morning on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica to watch the sunrise. Travel across to the Pacific coast and watch the sunset on an eastern beach. Allow plenty of time to travel by bus or car. While the distance is short by total mileage, traveling the Costa Rican roads can be a challenge. 

2. Enjoy Renewable Energy

For eco-conscious travelers, you’ll appreciate Costa Rica’s commitment to renewable energy. The country currently runs on 98% renewable energy

Using a combination of hydropower, wind, geothermal sources, and solar energy, Costa Rica powers more than a million homes and thousands of businesses. 

3. Catch Plenty of Monkey Antics

facts about costa rica a lot of monkeys

A jungle vacation wouldn’t be complete without a monkey sighting. You won’t have to worry about that! Monkeys are one of those most common mammals in Costa Rica. 

Costa Rica is home to several species of monkeys, including the howler monkey, the white face monkey, Central American squirrel monkeys, and Geoffrey’s spider monkeys. Be sure to visit some of Costa Rica’s National Parks, where you’ll find plenty of monkeys roaming the parks. 

If you want to see all four of these monkey species in the same place, make time for Corcovado National Park. It’s the only place you’ll find all of these monkeys in one place during your trip!

Read: How not to Get Locked up Abroad

4. See Plenty of Smiles

Costa Rica earns recognition for its happy people! From a long life expectancy to the government’s investment in the education and well-being of its citizens, Costa Rica fosters a happy, healthy environment.

Costa Rica is considered one of the happiest countries in the world! The top spot goes to Bhutan because of its happiness index, but Costa Rica is right up there.  

Tourists can benefit from the smiles and happiness of the country as a wonderful value-add to your vacation!

5. The Cuisine is Simple and Delicious

costa rica cuisine

Costa Ricans enjoy a staple dish of rice and beans most mornings for breakfast. You’ll see this meal listed on menus as “gallo pinto.” You’ll also find plenty of black bean soup and other dishes made with rice and beans. 

If you get tired of variations on rice and beans, try some Costa Rican ceviche. They have a unique take on this popular dish using tilapia and fresh vegetables.

Don’t forget to try plantains during your stay! You’ll find them fried as a side dish to traditional Costa Rican dishes. 

6. Art is Everywhere, Including the Money

costa rica money adobe

Costa Rica loves colorful art! You won’t have to look hard to see beautiful artifacts or paintings.

While the dollar is often accepted, the colon is Costa Rica’s currency—and it’s a delight to behold. Each denomination bill has a different colorful scene depicting the natural habitats and animals of Costa Rica. 

Costa Rican visitors can find plenty of art in museums throughout the country. In the capital city of San José, you’ll find:

  • the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica (National Museum of Costa Rica)
  • the Museo de Arte Costarricense (Museum of Art)
  • and the Museo de Jade Costa Rica (Museum of Jade), which houses artifacts made of jade

If you can’t make it to a museum during your stay, take note of the sculptures that line many of the city streets in Costa Rica. Government organizations work to preserve works of art and sculptures from the country’s prominent artists, like Teodorico Quiros, Isidro Con Wong, and  Ibo Bonilla.

7. Hummingbirds are Plentiful

Hummingbird costa rica

If you think there are a lot of monkeys in Costa Rica, wait until you see the hummingbirds! Some consider Costa Rica to be the world’s hummingbird capital. 

In case you lose count, there are around 50 species of hummingbirds in Costa Rica. Of those species, only a two are unique to Costa Rica:

  • The mangrove hummingbird found only in the mangrove forests on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica
  • The coppery-headed emerald hummingbird, which you’ll find only in the Pacific and Caribbean highlands of Costa Rica

Head to La Paz Gardens to see around 26 of the country’s hummingbirds all in one place!

8. Enjoy Rich Coffee

coffee costa brava

Costa Rica is one of the world’s biggest exporters of coffee. From free hotel coffee to coffee from a local shop, you can’t go wrong with any cup of coffee during your travels through the country—and you don’t have to spend a lot for quality coffee.

Why is the coffee so good here? In Costa Rica, it’s against the law to produce any coffee other than 100% Arabica. It’s one of the highest standards for coffee, and it’s illegal to produce anything else in Costa Rica. 

9. Find Plenty of Beaches

stingray city beach

With about 800 miles of coastline, you’ll have no problem finding a relaxing spot on the beach while you’re in Costa Rica.

You’ll find some of the best beaches in secluded areas off the beaten path. Work with a travel guide to choose the ideal beach for your vacation and help get you there safely. 

10. Costa Ricans Have Long Lives

Nicoya Costa Rica is one of the top blue zones in the world meaning that it’s inhabitants live to over 100 years old!

What’s their secret? They have a strong bond with family, elders remain active and have a strong sense of purpose.

But their diet and the calcium in their water also plays an important roll.

11. Costa Rica contains 6% of the World’s Biodiversity

Toucans in Costa Rica

The lecturers on our Uncruise through Panama and Costa Rica were very proud of the biodiversity in the region. Costa Rica houses more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity, while only taking up 0.3% of the planet!

Situated between North and South America, Costa Rica has one of the richest ecosystems in the world. It acts as a bridge between species of the two continents housing an abundance of flora and fauna.

12. Costa Rican Nicknames

Costa Ricans have a habit of adding “tico”after many words meaning its cute or small. It’s used so often that they adopted it as their nickname.

Costa Ricans refer to themselves as Ticos and Ticas rather than chiquitico, rather than chiquitito in other Spanish speaking countries.

13. Pura Vida

During our travels through Costa Rica, we heard the phrase Pura vida a lot. Even our guides referenced this phrase regularly.

Costa Ricans strive to live pure and simple lives which helps them to live as one of the happiest countries on earth.

The Switzerland of Central America

Whenever we were on a tour in Costa Rica, it often came up that the country does not have an army. The army was abolished in 1949.

As the former president, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Oscar Arias Sanchez said, “Military solutions to conflicts should be the last, last resort,”“Here, conflicts are resolved at a negotiating table.”

But in fact, it has a police force and the protection from the United States.

14. Costa Rica Had A Gold Rush

basic facts about costa rica gold rush

You may think gold was only booming in the Klondike or the Yukon, but Costa Rica had its own gold rush.

In the 1930s, Corcovado National Park drew miners seeking their fortune after an abundance of high quality gold was found.

15. Costa Rica is one of the Greenest Countries in the World

25% of Costa Rica is protected land or a national park making it the number one country to set aside land for nature to thrive.

16. Costa Rica Flag Facts

interesting facts about costa rica flag

The Costa Rica Flag is red white and blue but it consists of four horizontal lines with two blue lines framing the flag.

The French flag was used as inspiration for the Costa Rican flag which was desiged in 1848.

  • The Blue represents the sky.
  • White represents peace
  • Red stands for the blood of the people and their strength.

Fast Costa Rican Facts and Stats

costa rica facts

17. The capital city of Costa Rica is San Jose and its population is 2 million people.

18. The entire population of Costa Rica is 4.9 million people.

19. 94% of the population has a European heritage.

20. Costa Rica has a literacy rate of 97.8 percent.

21. The staple food of Costa Rica is Gallo Pinto – rice with black beans.

22. Costa Rica’s national symbol is the yigüirro which is a clay coloured thrush.

And In August, the Two-Toed Sloth (Choloepus Hoffmanni) and Three-Toed Brown Sloth (Bradypus Variegatus), two of the six sloth species in the world, became national symbols of Costa Rica.

23. The highest mountain in Costa Rica is Cerro Chirripo and it stands at 3,810 meters above sea level.

These Costa Rica Country Facts Are Just the Beginning!

For such a small country, Costa Rica has a lot to offer! These nine Costa Rica facts are just the beginning of your beach or jungle getaway.

interesting facts about costa rica

When you’re ready to plan your trip, check out our Costa Rica Travel Guide! We put together the ultimate resources to make your trip to Costa Rica memorable, safe, and fun. 

Read more facts about other destinations around the world/

Read more about Costa Rica ans Central America

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Book Your Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner. We have used them for years and have found that they have the best flight deals.

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor.

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Safety Wing - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Book Your Activities: Looking for walking tours, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more? Then we recommend Get Your Guide.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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6 thoughts on “23 Interesting Facts About Costa Rica”

  1. Amazing! I am a freelancer and am planning to visit Costa Rica for a while, do you know if it’s an expensive country to visit? Thanks for all the facts!

  2. Costa Rica is a Central American country classed as one of the most visited international destinations. Tourism is one of the principal sources of income for Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a peaceful and democratic country, and has not had an army since 1948. Although the country is small and it only covers 0.03 percent of the globe’s surface, it proudly shelters 5 percent of the world’s existing biodiversity. Twenty-six per cent of the country consists of nature conservation and protected territories.