• Lucas T. Jahn

111 Interesting Facts About Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination in Central America. From lush forests to beautiful beaches and high mountains, the country offers everything a traveler may seek.


1. Costa Rica was first settled 9000-12000 years ago by nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes arriving from the north. Several archeological remains have been dated back to this period.

2. Costa Rica was ‚discovered‘ by Christoph Columbus on his fourth journey in 1502.

3. In 1563, Cartago became the first permanent Spanish settlement in Costa Rica.

4. Despite its name, translating to ‚rich coast‘, Costa Rica lacked many of the natural resources treasured by the Spanish and was long regarded as a poor and backward colony.

5. Costa Rica gained its initial independence from Spain as a result of the fall of the Spanish Empire, brought upon by Napoleon‘s re-ordering of Europe. Together with other Central American colonies, Costa Rica declared independence in 1821.

6. After their independence from Spain, several former colonies including Cost Rica formed the United Provinces of Central America, which lasted for almost two decades.

7. Costa Rica gained full independence in 1838.

8. The country‘s main airport is named after Costa Rica‘s national hero, Juan Santamaria, a young militia drummer boy who died while performing a heroic deed, torching the enemy's fort, during the Filibuster War in 1856.

9. Unlike most other Central American countries, Costa Rica has avoided large-scale violent bloodshed after its independence. The Costa Rican Civil War of 1948, which lasted 44 days and cost 2000 lives, has been the most violent outburst to this day.

10. A direct result of the civil war was the abolition of Costa Rica‘s military by President José Figueres Ferrer on December 1, 1948. To this day, Costa Rica is one of the few countries without a standing army.

11. Democracy is a success in Costa Rica. From 1953 to 2018, 18 elections were held which all resulted in a peaceful transfer of power.


12. Costa Rica lies in Central America. It borders Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.

13. With a size of 51,100 km², Costa Rica equals the US states of Louisiana and Alabama and the European country of Bosnia and Herzegovina in size.

14. The country has 1290 km of coastline with about 4/5 of this on the Pacific Coast.

15. The 30.000 km Pan-American Highway, which starts in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and ends in Ushuaia, Argentina, reaches its highest point at 3491 m at Cerro de la Muerte in Costa Rica.

16. Costa Rica is generally a tropical country with pleasant temperatures year-round. However, depending on the elevation and the surrounding mountain ranges, Costa Rica has a variety of microclimates, also including sub-zero temperature zones.

17. Costa Rica has two seasons. The dry season lasts from December through March or April. The rainy season - also called the green season - lasts from May to early December. Locally, it can rain any time of the year though.

18. Costa Rica is home to no less than four major mountain ranges. All of them are of volcanic origin and responsible for the creation of many different microclimates. In the south, the Cordillera de Talamanca is Costa Rica’s oldest and highest range. The Cordillera Central or Central Volcanic Range is well-known for its volcanoes including Irazú and Poás. The Cordillera de Tilarán in the northwest is mostly known for the Monteverde Cloud Forest, while the Cordillera de Guanacaste near the Nicaraguan border is popular for tourist attractions such as Rincón de la Vieja.

19. The country‘s highest mountain is Cerro Chirripó which reaches the impressive size of 3820 m. Due to it‘s proximity to the equator, the temperatures are fairly mild at the top, only falling as low as -5° Celsius. An overnight hiking trail leads to the summit.

20. Costa Rica is part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, one of the most volcanically active regions on earth.

21. Costa Rica counts at least 60 volcanoes and 121 volcanic formations. 6 of them - Poás, Irazú, Arenal, Rincón de la Vieja, Tenorio, and Turrialba - are still active today.

22. Spontaneous volcanic eruptions can occur anytime, as proven by Volcano Arenal which was dormant for 400 years until it erupted without warning in 1968. Lava flowed down the mountain creating a large lava field that can be visited today. The volcano was visibly active until 2010 with smoke and lava emerging from its cone, but has calmed down since then.

23. Volcano Poás has the second widest crater of any volcano on earth.

24. The country sits on top of two tectonic plates – the Cocos Plate and the Caribbean Plate, whose movements are regular causes for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

25. There are 12 hours of daylight each day of the year due to the country‘s close proximity to the equator. The sun rises at 6 am in the morning and sets at 6 pm in the evening.

26. You can enjoy the sunrise and sunset at two different seas in a single day - watching the sunrise in the east over the Caribbean Sea and seeing it set in the west over the Pacific Ocean.


27. Around 5 million people live in Costa Rica. The population density of around 100 per km² is similar to Spain and Malaysia.

28. The majority of Ticos are of Spanish origin. Almost 85% of the population identifies as White Latin American (Castizo) or of mixed origin (Mestizo).

29. African Costa Ricans make up around 1% of the population. Most of them are descendants of former slaves that were forced to work on the Caribbean sugar cane plantations.

30. The Native American population in Costa Rica is very low, counting merely around 100.000 people or around 2% of the population. The eight distinct ethnic groups are the Quitirrisí, Chorotega, Maleku, Bribri, Cabécar, Guaymí, Boruca, and Térraba.

31. The majority of Ticos live in the climatically temperate Central Valley, where temperatures are between 15-30 degrees Celsius year-round.

32. 4 out of 5 Costa Ricans identify as Christian with a majority following the Roman Catholic Church. Around 17% of Ticos are unaffiliated with any religion.

33. The average life expectancy in Costa Rica is 80 years, topping the United States life expectancy of 79 years.

34. Parts of the Nicoya Peninsula are one of only five blue zones globally. Blue zones are characterized by the unusually long and healthy life span of their population. The other four blue zones are Icaria in Greece, Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, and Loma Linda in the US.

35. Costa Rica‘s literacy rate is 98%, which is almost on par with most European countries.

36. Costa Rica has a free basic education system.