A Brief Look at the History and Culture of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known the world over as one of the first nations in environmental protection and wildlife conservation. It is for this reason that visitors flock to this stunning country to see what true unspoiled natural beauty is like. Nestled in Central America and being affected by the Caribbean and Pacific oceans and the tumultuous Pacific Ring of Fire makes this one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world.

During peak season, Costa Rica beach house rentals are almost impossible to find, and this is true for many of the eco-lodges and other resorts famous within the country. But don’t fret there is always somewhere for the curious visitor to stay.

While the nature and beauty of the country are celebrated, the history and culture of this fantastic country are sometimes overlooked. This is not a bad thing, but we here at ViralRang thought it would be a good idea to fill our readers in on some of the lesser-known aspects of the country. Hopefully, this brief overview gives you an even greater incentive to visit. Even though you probably didn’t need one anyway.

A brief history of Costa Rica

Like all the other countries in the region, Costa Rica was ‘discovered’ by Christopher Columbus in 1502. With the arrival of new settlers came along diseases that wiped out almost all the native population of the country.

Due to the lack of natural resources, many of the settlers were left to develop their own governance and democracy without a huge amount of influence from outside forces. This is something many believe attributed to the relative peace and progress of the country.

With general peace in the country, independence was announced in 1838 after several different colonial rulers. A strong economy and relative peace have been maintained throughout the country’s history and contribute to its image today. This contrasts with its neighbors who have gone through a far more turbulent time. Things are so good in Costa Rica in fact that it has no standing army, a novelty in the region.

Culture and language

Like the rest of Central America, most of the population is made up of Roman Catholics, comprising 70% of the community. The national language is again Spanish, with some tiny pockets of indigenous speakers throughout the country.

Status is essential within the country. There are different formal uses of ‘his’ and ‘her’ depending on the status of the person, but as a visitor, you are not expected to know this, so don’t be too worried when visiting.

Due to the vast tourism industry in the country, English is also widely spoken. There are also communities of Chinese and Europeans, so some other languages can also be found.


You will be surprised to know that for such a small country, Costa Rica is home to over 200 volcanoes. Luckily enough, many of these are not active. This should also give you an idea of the impact of the Pacific Ring of Fire on the country. This contributes both to the natural geography and seismic activity in the country. The last major earthquake occurred in 1991.

With over 600 km of coastline and peaks reaching up to 4000 meters, you can be sure there are huge contracts in the activities that you can get up to in the country. Some of the most popular activities include rainforest hikes, surfing, and volcano climbing, among many others.

As a country, they are immensely proud of their green reputation and are aiming to become the first country in the world, which is carbon neutral by 2021. This is an astonishing challenge but one which many people are confident that they can achieve, something to be proud of.

Other trivia and facts:

Costa Rican’s nicknames for each other are ‘Ticos.’ This is because they use the diminutive for small in describing almost everything, no matter how large it is. For this reason, it has stuck and become normalized. Don’t be alarmed if somebody happens to call you small; everyone is small.

Over 5% of the world’s biodiversity is within the borders of Costa Rica, even though it makes up only .4% of the landmass of the world. With this, over 25% of Costa Rica has protected the land. Either in nature reserves or national parks. A much higher percentage than much of the rest of the world.

Street names are not common in the country, and distance is used as a marker. Much more difficult for visitors than locals. You can either practice getting around when you arrive for an easier time or simply ask a local where you need to go.

Like much of Central and South America, Maize makes up a massive portion of the diet in Costa Rica. Beans are also another essential ingredient in almost every dish.

The country has experienced over 60 years of peace, in stark contrast to its neighbors. One of the former presidents of the country even won the Noble Peace Prize by helping bring an end to the civil war in neighboring Nicaragua.

Finally, the currency of Costa Rica is the colon, $1us is roughly 566 colons

I’m sure even without this information, one picture would be enough to convince you to visit Costa Rica. Now at least you have a better understanding of the country’s history and what has made it the country it is today. Be sure to have plenty of time to check out this amazing country.

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