Top Cultural Facts In Costa Rica
From the pulsating capital San Jose to the lush rainforest of Monteverde, from white sun-drenched beaches to rugged jungle treks, Costa Rica offers an amazing variety of scenery and atmosphere. But there is still much more to interest the traveler. Add to all these, a vibrant cultural life and you’ll wonder why you did not visit Costa Rica earlier.
Values, traditions, religion, language, education, dance, music and cuisine together make up the culture of Costa Rica. But it is mainly its people that represent its culture. Ticos, as Costa Ricans are commonly referred to, possess a unique identity that differentiates them from neighboring countries. Ninety-seven percent of the population is mestizo (mixed blood generally Spanish with Native American) or of direct European descent. Of the mestizos, majority are of European ancestry thus are fair-skinned. Afro-Caribbeans represent two percent and the original inhabitants, the Native Americans, make up less than one percent of the total population.
Costa Ricans are generally warm and friendly. It is easy to make friends with them. They are also consistently helpful and polite. They are typically laid-back and thus worry little about deadlines and even arrive late for personal appointments. Costa Ricans are non-confrontational. They prefer to avoid conflicts and just stay on people’s good sides. Faced with a difficult situation, they tend to laugh at the situation or just be cynical to diffuse the problem. Costa Ricans are very family oriented. Spending time with family and friends is of utmost importance. Most of them even prefer jobs that will allow them free time. An important aspect of Costa Rica’s cultural legacy is the people’s love for peace and democracy. In a region plagued by civil unrest and dictatorships, Costa Rica is an exception. The country has a stable democracy without an army.
Nearly 80% of the population is Catholic. However, most Costa Rican Catholics view their religion more as a tradition than as a form of faith. The Catholic hierarchy does not exert a powerful influence either politically or culturally. Moreover, Costa Rica is tolerant of other religion.
Most festivals in Costa Rica are religious-oriented. Some of these religious festivals are the festival in honor of their patron saint Virgin de los Angeles, Holy Week and the festival of the Virgin of the Sea, among others.
Spanish is the official language but basic English is spoken especially around the tourist areas. Costa Ricans of Caribbean descent speak Creole which is derived from English.
Education is very important in Costa Rica. In fact, 27% of the national budget is spent on education. As a result, 95% of the population is literate. Primary (1st-6th grade) and secondary (7th-11th or 12th grade) education are free and mandatory for all citizens. Public schools are dispersed all over the country. There are four big public universities which have become major universities in Central America.
Costa Rican also love sports a lot. Popular sports are –
Futbol. AKA Soccer. Recently, new sports like Lacrosse etc are also gaining popularity.
Costa Rican cuisine is a combination of Spanish, Mexican, American and Southern American influences. This style of cuisine is shared by most of Central American countries although with individual local variations. Gallo pinto, a popular dish, is mainly a combination of black beans and white rice seasoned with cilantro, garlic, salt and a local sauce called Salsa Lizano. Other dishes are arroz con pollo (rice with chicken); olla de carne (a broth soup) and cascado (one plate meal consisting of beans, rice, meat and side dishes). A common practice is to have fruit drinks called “refrescos’ with meals.
Music includes a rhythm known as tambito and a distinct music genre called punto. Nowadays, rock music popularized by bands such as Gandhi and Evolucion are famous among the young crowd.
Most importantly, Costa Rican culture revolves around “pura vida” which literally means pure life. This phrase sums up how Costa Ricans view life. For them, “life is cool”.