79 Facts About Costa Rica Food, Attractions, Culture, Photos, Travelers and Expats

Rio Celeste waterfall, Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Rio Celeste waterfall, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Article written by Bryan Haines

If you're curious about Costa Rica, this post will help. In this huge guide, you'll learn 79 facts about Costa Rica, including food, attractions, political structure, population, cities, and much more.

Thinking of visiting Costa Rica? Maybe retiring there? You'll need to get familiar with this lovely paradise before you go. We've put together 79 facts about Costa Rica to help introduce you to one of our favorite places in the world. These Costa Rica facts will get you started and hopefully help you have the best time you can while you're there.

Basic Facts About Costa Rica

1. What is Costa Rica’s Official Name?

Costa Rica is known to the international community as the “República de Costa Rica” or the Republic of Costa Rica. What does Costa Rica mean? Costa Rica is Spanish meaning “rich coast”.

2. What is Costa Rica’s Population?

Costa Rica has just over 4.9 million people with a slow but steady population increase.

3. Where is Costa Rica located?

Costa Rica is located in Central America on a small isthmus between Nicaragua (to the north) and Panama (to the South). Technically, it’s in North America although its culture is decidedly closer to South America.

4. What time is it in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is in Central Standard Time (GMT-6), the same as Chicago. There is no daylight savings time there.

5. When does the sun set in Costa Rica?

In the winter, sunsets happen between 5:45 and 6:00 p.m. typically. As the summer comes, that natural day is lengthened, but because there’s no daylight savings time, there is less variation.

Sunset at Samara Beach, Guanacaste
Sunset at Samara Beach, Guanacaste

6. What are citizens of Costa Rica known as?

Citizens are known as Costa Ricans. Sometimes they call themselves “Ticos” after a tendency to add the suffix “tico” after many words (an affectionate way to call something cute or small). Women are “Ticas.”

7. What is the capital of Costa Rica?

The capital of Costa Rica is San Jose, a historic city that’s Costa Rica’s most populous.

8. What is the life expectancy in Costa Rica?

People have an average life expectancy of nearly 80 (79.83) years in this country. Must be the “pura vida.” Guanacaste is one of the five blue zones in the world which contributes to the high life expectancy

9. What religions are in Costa Rica?

The state religion is Catholicism, but the country has established religious freedom for all. There are a variety of Christian denominations popular in the country, and three percent belong to other religious traditions altogether.

10. Common misspellings of Costa Rica

It’s not nearly as common to see a misspelling of this country as it is some others, but you may see Cosda Rica every now and again. And you might also see it written incorrectly as one word: Costarica.

11. How to Pronounce Costa Rica

Facts about Costa Rica Travel

12. How's the weather in Costa Rica?

The weather in Costa Rica is lovely with plenty of sun and a warm temperature mostly year round. There are rainy times, and during big hurricane seasons, the weather can be unpredictable.

13. What is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

Mid-December to April is a great time to make a visit here. It’s the dry season, but the weather is still warm enough to take advantage of the long stretches of beach.

Unfortunately, this is also the peak tourist season. If you don’t mind a little rain, you can go during the off-season and have fewer crowds.

14. What is Costa Rica’s currency?

The national currency is the colón (₡), but they also take dollars in many of the tourists' districts. The exchange rate is highly favorable for those of you carrying dollars.

Costa Rican colones are very colorful and depict the natural treasures
Costa Rican colones

15. Do I need a power adapter when I visit Costa Rica?

Costa Rica uses the same power current as the United States, so if you’re from that country, you’re good to go.

16. What plugs are used in Costa Rica?

If you’re from the USA, you probably won’t need a plug adaptor either. Most plugs are two-pronged like older plugs in the US. If you have something with a three prong that’s important to you, you may need a single plug for that.

17. What are Costa Rica’s international airports?

There are two international airports.

  • Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) in Alajuela, near San Jose,

  • Daniel Oduber Airport (LIR) in Liberia. Services the northwest region of Costa Rica.

18. What languages are spoken in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s official language is Spanish.

There are a variety of indigenous languages in the country as well as an older form of English in some districts. Overall, most people speak Spanish, and all official business is conducted in Spanish.

19. How many tourists visit Costa Rica every year?

The country is very popular with tourists, seeing 2,665,000 visitors (2015). Costa Rica is the most visited country in Central America, with 26.4% of all visitors. Tourism is heavily weighted during the peak dry season.

20. What are Costa Rica’s most famous landmarks?

Although the entire country is full of beauty, there are a few must-see attractions if you spend any time here:

  • Monteverde Cloud Forest: Beautiful nature walks with trails and hanging bridges, but bring warmer clothes for the elevation.

  • Arenal Volcano: This live volcano offers scenic views and good hiking.

  • Coffee Tours: Visit the site where your favorite beverage gets its start.

  • Dominical: Backpacking never looked so good with sand trails, beaches, and lots of atmosphere.

  • Pre-Columbian Gold Museum: History buffs will appreciate this collection of treasure plus some art.

  • Manuel Antonio National Park: The premier outdoor destination for anyone in Costa Rica.

Monteverde rainforest cloudforest, Costa Rica
Monteverde rainforest, Costa Rica

21. Is Costa Rica a safe place to visit?

Costa Rica is a very safe country with a lot of money and time spent making sure tourists return each year. Be smart about your things and pay attention to your surroundings just like you would in any country, but overall Costa Rica is very safe.

22. What are Costa Rica’s 10 best beaches?

It’s hard to narrow down beaches here, but our top picks are:

  • Manuel Antonio Beach

  • Tamarindo Beach, Guanacaste

  • Conchal Beach, Guanacaste

  • Flamingo Beach, Guanacaste

  • Nacascolo Beach, Papagayo Peninsula (ultra exclusive)

  • Dominical Beach, South Pacific

  • Montezuma Beach, Nicoya Peninsula

  • Samara Beach, Nicoya Peninsula (great for families!)

  • San Juanillo Beach, Nicoya Peninsula

  • Manzanillo Beach, Southern Caribbean Coast

Playa Samara, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Playa Samara, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

23. What are the most famous events in Costa Rica?

There are a lot of events in this country known for tourism and Pure Life mentalities.

Here are some of the most popular events – you might want to plan around these. If you aren't interested to see them – they can make travel more difficult. There will be more tourists and it will be harder to find hotels and transport.

  • Saint Days of Santa Cruz, January 15 week

  • Dia de San Isidro Labrador, March 15 week

  • International Festival of the Arts, March 15 week

  • Semana Santa, varies

  • The Day of the Blessed Virgin of Los Angeles, August 2nd

  • Limon Carnival, October

  • Light Festival of San Jose, second Saturday of December

Geography of Costa Rica

24. How large is Costa Rica?

Costa Rica comprises 19,730 square miles (51,100 sq. km) of land along the isthmus of Central America.

25. What World Heritage sites are in Costa Rica?

Four World Heritage sites are located in the country, including 3 natural and 1 cultural.

  • The Area de Conservacion Guanacaste

  • Cocos Island National Park

  • Pre Columbian Chiefdom Settlements

  • La Amistad National Park