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Traveller's Guide 101: Everything you need to know about Costa Rica! #PuraVida

Updated: Nov 24, 2019

Prepare your passport because the World is your playground!

On today’s #FlagFriday exposé, we discover a country close to my heart and where I called home for almost 3 years: #COSTARICA! It’s all the hype in travel guides and holds an outstanding country reputation amongst us Central American countries and now throughout the world. Having lived and absorbed this country’s richness, I vouch for the natural beauty amongst its natural and human resources.

Read below to soak in some Costa Rica wonders, click on the highlighted words for links to more info & view the Costa Rica gallery here for invigorating shots captured during my time there! If you’re planning on visiting Costa Rica, feel free to shoot me a message for any tips; there’s so much to do! ‘PURA VIDA’ & happy travelling!


Capital: San José - 339, 581 people (United Nations 2017)

Population: 4.987 million (CIA 2018)

Language: Official is Spanish. Creole- English, Jamaican patois is spoken along the Caribbean coast & pre-Columbian indigenous languages (Maléku, Cabécar, Bribri, Gauymí y Buglere)


Main exports: coffee, bananas, beef, sugar, and in recent years, specialised manufacturing such as medical device.

◘ Tourism is its main source of foreign exchange.

GDP per capita: 11,630 USD (World Bank 2017)

◘ Since 2010, Costa Rica has enjoyed a streak of stable and prosperous economic growth, accomplishing 3.8% in 2017.

◘ Attractive to foreign investment due to political stability, high educational level in its region (96% literacy rate,) and free-trade zone incentives (downside: complex bureaucracy)

◘ Highest levels of foreign investment per capita in LATAM

◘ Not highly reliant on remittances, unlike the rest of Central America, but instead relies on foreign direct investment (FDI.)

13 Fun Facts

1. Natives refer to themselves as “Ticos (as).” In Spanish, -tico is a suffix referring to smallness, with a connotation of endearment/fondness. Costa Ricans are called Ticos due to their linguistic tendency to add this diminutive in their speech (i.e. ‘Vamos a dar una vueltica,’ ‘Platicamos un ratico.’)

2. Costa Rica is ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world (Happy Planet Index) and has one of the highest global life expectancies at age 77.

3. It follows that the country’s national motto is “Pura vida,” which translates directly as pure life. It represents their optimistic mindset and easy-going attitude with which they face life. It is the Tico lifestyle and go-to phrase to respond a ‘how are you,’ ‘how was your day,’ ‘are we on for dinner tonight,’ ‘how was the football game,’ etc. It’s versatility for a local is endless. If you visit, expect to leave the country not only saying it back, but knowing exactly what it feels like to be Pura Vida.

4. A soda is a small, informal restaurant that serves traditional meals (i.e. chicken, rice, beans) at low cost.

5. CR has no standing army! On December 1, 1948, Costa Rica dissolved its armed forces.

6. In-vitro fertilization was banned in 2000 and was the only country in the world to fully ban the medical procedure, based on the argument that it protects the embryo. In 2012, the San José-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ordered Costa Rica to lift the ban on IVF, officially lifted in 2016.

7. Nicaraguans make up 3/4 of the country’s foreign population.

8. Nicoya is one of the top five Blue Zones in the world! Blue zones are areas where people live to 100 and stay healthy [1. Okinawa, Japan 2. Sardinia, Italy 3. Icaria, Greece 4. Loma Linda, California 5. Nicoya, Costa Rica]

9. Due to the proximity to the equator, the sunrise and sunset are expected to be at the same time, every day, 365 days of the year.

10. Bahía Ballena (Whale Bay) is shaped like a whale’s tail created by the beach and rainforest during low tide. It is located on the southern Pacific coast in the Osa Peninsula, famous for its beaches and marine wildlife. Fittingly, it is one of the top places in CR to see whales and dolphins.

11. Costa Rica contains more than 5% of worlds’ biodiversity (in its small .03% of the earth’s surface) and more than 25% of its territory is dedicated to national parks, reserves and wildlife refuges.

12. It is one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world (99% of energy is renewable.) Read more on their goals through their country brand Essential Costa Rica.

13. Its currency as is colourful as its biodiversity.


◘ Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502.

◘ Spanish colony since 1563

◘ In 1821, Costa Rica became one of the Central American provinces that jointly declared independence from Spain.

◘ In 1823, it joins the United Provinces of Central America (disintegrated in 1838)

◘ 1838, Costa Rica declares its sovereignty.

(CNN Country Profile)

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