1. Costa Ricans call themselves ticos (males) and ticas (females).
2. It’s not a big deal to see someone walking around with a machete.
Although it’s more common in the countryside, ticos use machetes for everything and often keep one on them. They’re considered the Costa Rican equivalent of duct tape.
3. Costa Rica is only slightly smaller than Lake Michigan.
And has 801 miles of coastline.
4. Ticos often refer to their significant others as their “media naranja”.
Which means “the other half of their orange.”
5. Costa Rica’s president, Luis Guillermo Solís, won the 2014 election with over 77% of the vote.
This was the largest margin ever recorded for a free election in Costa Rica. Previously, Costa Rica’s president was Laura Chinchilla, Costa Rica’s first female president and sixth female elected for president of a Latin American country.
6. Costa Rica has more than 121 volcanic formations, with seven of them being active.
Poás Volcano has the second widest crater in the world, and Arenal is one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world.
7. The country is host to more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity.
Even though its landmass only takes up .03% of the planet’s surface, more than 10% of the world’s butterflies live here — there are about 750,000 species of insects that live in Costa Rica, and 20,000 various kinds of spiders.
8. Costa Rica has no standing army.
They abolished the army in 1948 after their last civil war ended.
9. Costa Rican women don’t take their husband’s last name.
And instead use their full maiden name for life. Children take their father’s name but add their mother’s maiden name to their full name.
10. Instead of saying a woman “had a baby,” ticos say “ella dio a luz.”
Meaning, “she gave light.”
11. Every Costa Rican radio station plays the national anthem every morning at 7am.
12. Until a few years ago, wearing shorts was a sign of disrespect.
And government buildings wouldn’t allow visitors to enter unless they were wearing long pants.
13. Pedestrians are called “targets.”
And speed bumps are called “son muertos” — in English, “(they are) dead people.”
14. Costa Rica is considered one of the most valued environmental destinations in the world.
There are over 100 protected areas to visit, and 25% of the country has protected forests and reserves.
15. Ice cream flavors in Costa Rica are interesting and sometimes slightly weird.
Flavors include coconut, goat cheese, wild blackberry, peanut, sour cream, chipotle blueberry, chocolate almond, and more.
16. You could easily call Costa Rica the unofficial hummingbird capital.
The country is home to over 52 species of hummingbird.
17. Pura Vida is a happy, feel-good expression.
Pura Vida is used regularly by the locals when asked how they are or in passing to say hello or goodbye.
18. Costa Rica has an exceptionally high life expectancy of 79, one of the highest in the world.
And receives international praise for its modern healthcare system, where it’s ranked 36th in the world by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the world’s seven Blue Zones, a place where people live longer and happier lives, and has a high concentration of people over age 100.
19. There are usually no street names or addresses.
So people simply get accustomed to giving directions via landmarks. When giving someone a home address, ticos usually say something like, “It’s the blue house just south of where the cow is tied up,” or “It’s 500 meters north of the big tree.”
20. Mae is the Costa Rican slang term for “dude.”
And is used regularly in conversation with young people.
21. Costa Rica has a 96% literacy rate.
In rural areas of the country where ticos are very poor and don’t have access to school, classes are taught on air over a national radio station.