About Costa Rica

Costa Rica Facts

Official Name: The Republic of Costa Rica(Republica de Costa Rica)
Capital City: San José - People: Costa Rican
Languages Spoken: Spanish, English, and French

Major Industries:

Tourism, agriculture (coffee, bananas, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef; timber), and electronic exports.

The national flag:

Consists five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white elliptical disk on the hoist side of the red band; above the coat of arms a light blue ribbon contains the words, AMERICA CENTRAL, and just below it near the top of the coat of arms is a white ribbon with the words, REPUBLICA COSTA RICA. The blue band symbolizes the blue sky that covers Costa Rica like a protective blanket. The white stands for the peace that characterizes the country as well as the purity of its ideals. Finally, the red band represents the energy, the courage and the generosity with which the Costa Ricans stand up for their principles and ideals.

The national coat of arms:

It shows three volcanoes representing the country’s three mountain ranges and a valley. These divide two oceans where ships are sailing, symbolizing the sea ports of the Pacific and the Caribbean Ocean. The seven stars stand for the seven provinces of Costa Rica, and the rising sun commemorizes the birth of the new nation. At the top of the coat of arms there is an inscription saying: “Central America”!

The national flower:

In Costa Rica, cattleya skinneri is one of the most common orchids. When in 1937 a vote was organized to choose the national flower of Costa Rica, nobody was surprised that cattleya skinneri was the winner. Not only scholars and horticulturists participated in the vote, but also secondary school and university students.

National bird:

The so called Yigüirro (clay-colored robin) was declared national bird of Costa Rica on January 3rd, 1977, as a tribute to its powerful and melodious call that signals the beginning of the rainyseason.This bird was chosen especially because it is so familiar to Costa Ricans as it tends to live near people’s homes.

National Tree:

On August 31, 1959, the Guanacaste tree (enterolobium ciclocarpum) was declared the national tree of Costa Rica. It was chosen as a tribute to the people of Guanacaste, which was the last province to join the Republic in 1825. With the giant shade it provides, this tree symbolizes the protection that Costa Ricans enjoy from the State. The name “Guanacaste” originates from a native language called “náhuatl” and means “tree of the ears”. This is because the fruits of the tree are similar to the shape ofthe human ear.

Unofficial Motto: “Pura Vida.”- the words convey the state of happiness, peace, and tranquility that the political stability and freedom bring to Costa Ricans.

The phrase actually comes from a 1956 Mexican movie, “Pura Vida!” By 1970 Costa Ricans were using the expression on a daily basis. The expression “Pura Vida” has become so popular that has been added to Costa Rican Spanish dictionaries as an idiom to greet, or to show appreciation.

The highest point in the Republic of Costa Rica is Cerro Chirripo (3,810 m) in the Chirripo national park.

The Guayabo National Monument is the site of an ancient city, thought to have been inhabited between 1000 BC and 1400 AD. Artifacts found at Guayabo are now in museums in San Jose.

Christopher Columbus visited the Costa Rican island of Quiribri in 1502.

Costa Rica is Spanish for Rich Coast.

The oldest city in Costa Rica is Cartago, founded in 1563. Cartago was the capital of until 1823.

Spain ruled Costa Rica for almost three centuries.

Coffee was introduced to Costa Rica at the end of the eighteenth century. Within a few decades, coffee was the country’s main source of revenue.

Costa Rica achieved independence from Spain in 1821.

In 1823 Costa Rica joined El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in the united provinces of Central America.

The Republic of Costa Rica became fully independent in 1838.

Led by Juan Rafael Mora Porras, Costa Rica rallied the resistance to William Walker, a US adventurer who tried to take over a number of Central American countries (1856).

At the end of the nineteenth century, the US-owned United Fruit Company introduced large-scale banana cultivation to Costa Rica.
The UK was one of the first markets for Costa Rican coffee.

British citizens and British funds were very much involved in the construction of the very first Costa Rican railway line (to the Atlantic coast).

British capital was also seed capital for the foundation of the first Costa Rican bank. It was called Banco Anglo Costarricense (closed in 1994).

The first international agreement signed by Costa Rica with a European country was the agreement that established bilateral diplomatic relations between Costa Rica and the UK.

In 1948 a short civil war, lasting six weeks, took place after a presidential election.

Irazu Volcano, the highest volcano in Costa Rica, erupted between 1963 and 1965.

Seventy-eight people were killed in 1968 when the Arenal Volcano erupted for the first time in centuries.

Oscar Arias Sanchez, the former President of Costa Rica, won the Nobel prize for his 1987 regional peace plan. Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua took part in this peace plan.

Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs Tour: Start with a visit to rushing waterfalls and the 2 rustic towns of Naranjo and Zarcero. Next, descend to the San Carlos Plains to witness the glowing orange explosions of the Arenal Volcano from a safe distance, and wind down with a soothing bath in the volcanic Tabacón Hot Mineral Springs.

Reventazón White Water Rafting: Perfect for beginners, this trip offers adventure without danger, first along a series of relatively easy rapids, after which you hurtle through both “El Gordo” and “Hueco Santo”, the most challenging rapids of the run. All around is a picture-book scenery and a numbing profusion of wildlife.

Aerial Tram Rain Forest Tour: Cross over the Continental Divide and continue on a ½ hour ride through Braulio Carrillo National Park for what may be the most amazing journey of your life through a canopy of ancient trees dripping with mosses, ferns, and orchids. Bring binoculars and you’ll get once-in-a-lifetime views of the wildlife nesting, feeding, playing, mating, sleeping, and battling along the way!

Poas Volcano, Chubascos & Sarch Oxcart Factory: Poas is believed to be the world’s largest geyser, which you reach through a network of trails that take you right to the emerald lagoon of its extinct crater. Continue to the town of Sarchi, the home of Costa Rica’s native art where primitive local artists began the tradition of painting and decorating their oxcarts with intricate and colorful designs.

Folklore Show at Pueblo Antiguo: Professional actors portray a slice of Costa Rican history in this bilingual multimedia show that dramatizes notable elements of the country’s turn-of-the-20th-century life. Marimba music, dance groups, and masked mythical figures entertain you in a lovely theme park. After a traditional dinner, you are treated to a native folkloric dance show.
Carara Biological Reserve & Jaco Beach: The Old Spanish Route, one of Costa Rica’s most scenic roads, takes you to the 11,750-acre reserve where striking animals such as scarlet macaws, rare monkeys, and dazzling butterflies make up the tropical web of life. Explore this habitat via trails sheltered under a cathedral canopy of enormous trees and then head on to the beach for lunch and seaside rest or play, as you wish!

Corcovado National Park: A huge range of habitats covers this park from seemingly impenetrable rainforest to dripping, steamy cloud forest, oak forested seashore, and swamp. The park is located on the Osa Peninsula of the southern Pacific coast, lengthy, wide beaches fringe its western side. The Corcovado lagoon and swamp harbors large crocodiles and many of the park’s 140 mammal species, and monkeys swing above every trail. All the country’s big cats, such as the jaguar, live in there and can occasionally be seen on the beach. Over 400 species of birds and the largest population of scarlet macaws live here. For advanced hikers only!

Costa Rica is a tiny country with fewer than 5 million people
The preservation of Costa Rica’s natural heritage is now a Top Priority

The Costa Rican Military was abolished in 1949

The Costa Rican Military budget was then used to establish a National Health and Education System with national literacy rates on par with the USA.

Over 23% of the country is protected within national parks, forestry reserves and wildlife refuges

There are over 8,000 species of plants, Including 1500 varieties of orchids

They have more bird types than in all of North America and more butterfly species than in all of Africa

Costa Rica is called the jewel of Central America and enjoys a reputation for enlightened conservation efforts.

Tourism is now the number one industry

Costa Rica literally means “Rich Coast”

República de Costa Rica,IPA: [re’pußlika ðe ‘kosta ‘rika]), is in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south-southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, and
the Caribbean Sea to the east. Costa Rica was the first country in the world to constitutionally abolish its army.

Economically – Costa Rica’s location provides easy access to American markets as it has the same time zone as the central part of the United States and direct ocean access to Europe and Asia.

Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.1% of the world’s landmass, it contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity. Over 25% of this beautiful country is composed of protected forests and reserves.

One national park that is internationally-renowned among ecologists for its biodiversity (including big cats and tapirs) and where visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife is the Corcovado National Park.

Tortuguero National Park – the name Tortuguero can be translated as “Full of turtles” – is home to spider, howler and white-throated Capuchin monkeys, the three-toed sloth, 320 species of birds (including eight species of parrots), a variety of reptiles, but is mostly recognized for the annual nesting of the endangered green turtle and is considered the most important nesting site for this species. Giant leatherback, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles also nest here.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve hosts two thousand plant species, including numerous orchids. Over four hundred types of birds can be found here, and over one hundred species of mammals. As a whole, around eight hundred species of birds have been identified in the forests of Costa Rica. The Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBIO) is allowed to collect royalties on any biological discoveries of medical importance.

In 2005, Costa Rica had an estimated population of 4.43 million people. The majority of people in Costa Rica are descended from Spanish settlers.

Costa Ricans often refer to themselves as tico (masculine) or tica (feminine). “Tico” comes from the popular local usage of “tico” and “tica” as diminutive suffixes (e.g., “momentico” instead of “momentito”). The tico ideal is that of a very friendly, helpful, laid back, unhurried, educated and environmentally aware people. Visitors from the United States are often referred to as gringos, which is virtually always congenial in nature. The phrase “Pura Vida” (literally “Pure Life”) is a ubiquitous motto in Costa Rica. It encapsulates the pervading ideology of living in peace in a calm, unclustered manner, appreciating a life surrounded by nature and family and friends

The literacy rate in Costa Rica is of 96% (CIA World Factbook, February 2007), one of the highest in Latin America.

Tabacon Hot Springs is a lush playground of natural hot springs and pools heated by the nearby Arenal Volcano

Industry: microprocessors, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials.
Agriculture: coffee, pineapples, bananas, sugar; beef; timber.
Exports: coffee, bananas, sugar, pineapples, textiles.

The tropical coastal plains rise to mountains, active volcanoes, and a temperate central plateau where most people live (San José, the capital, is here). The only country in all of Central America with no standing army, it enjoys continuing stability after a century of almost uninterrupted democratic government. Tourism, which has overtaken bananas and other fruit as Costa Rica’s leading foreign exchange earner, bolsters the economy. A quarter of the land has protected status; the beauty of rain forest preserves draws more and more visitors.

Museo Nacional de Costa Rica: The country’s most important historical museum is housed in a former army barracks that was the scene of fighting during the civil war of 1948. Hundreds of bullet holes can still be seen on the turrets at the corners of the building. Displays ofthe many facets of Costa Rican history and culture from pre-Columbian times to the present feature a 2,500-year-old jade carving shaped like a seashell and etched with an image of a hand holding a small animal.

Museo de Arte Costarricense: Costa Rica’s most celebrated artists present their diverse work, including sculptures, paintings, and prints as part of the permanent collection. Rotating exhibits are also featured and the conference room’s unusual bas-relief walls, which chronicle the history of Costa Rica from pre-Columbian times to the present, are a popular attraction.

Zoo Ave (Bird Zoo): Get a closer look at the birds you’ll spot in the wild as you visit dozens of rescued injured or abused scarlet macaws, reclusive owls, majestic raptors, toucans, and other brilliantly colored birds from Costa Rica and around the world. Large iguana, deer, monkeys, and a 12-foot crocodile have also found a safe home here.

Pre-Columbian Ruins: In the Guayabo National Monument is a collection of building foundations and cobblestone streets predating the arrival of European man. Tour them on your own, or request a guide. Buses depart daily from Turrialba.

Mercado Central: This is the sort of marketplace every traveler anticipates finding in a foreign land, and no trip to San José is complete without a round of this indoor labyrinth of shops, stalls, and restaurants. Everything from crafts and clothing to freshly picked coffee is sold here, and the surrounding streets host a daily farmers market.

There are many wonderful and unique things about Costa Rica…
* 130 species of freshwater fish
* 160 species of amphibians
* 208 species of mammals
* 220 species of reptiles
* 850 species of birds
* 1,000 species of butterflies
* 1,200 varieties of orchids
* 9,000 species of plants
* 34,000 species of insects
* Canal networks through jungles
* Cloud forests
* Coral reefs
* Deciduous forests
* Elevations from sea level to 12,529 feet
* Mangrove swamps
* Rain forests
* Tropical dry forests
* Volcanoes (112 craters)
* White, black, and pink shell beaches on both coasts
* Extensive networks of rivers

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