Ten Things You Might Not Know About Costa Rica

Jennifer Jedda

Posted on June 09 2015


Although Costa Rica may be tiny (it is slightly smaller than Lake Michigan), its culture and biodiversity is mighty!

Here are 10 things you probably didn't know about this tropical country before, but now you will :):


1. Costa Ricans call themselves ticos (males) and tics (females) and often refer to their significant others as their “media naranja”.

Which means “the other half of their orange.”


2.  The country is host to more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity.

Even though its landmass only takes up .03% of the planet’s surface, more than 10% of the world’s butterflies live here — there are about 750,000 species of insects that live in Costa Rica, and 20,000 various kinds of spiders (eek!).


3. A new species of frog was just found in Costa Rica and it looks like Kermit.

Called the Hyalinobatrachium dianae, it was discovered earlier this year in the Caribbean foothills of the country. Similar to the glass frog, the lime-colored amphibian has translucent skin on its underside and has eyes that make it look like the famous Muppet, Kermit. Who will Ms. Piggy have a crush on now!?


4.  Costa Rican women don’t take their husband’s last name.

And instead use their full maiden name for life. Children take their father’s name but add their mother’s maiden name to their full name.


5. For 75 days straight this year, Costa Rica got all of its electricity from renewables.

According to the the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), Costa Rica got 100 percent of its electricity from renewables for 75 days straight this year. As of March they had had no need to use fossil fuels, due to heavy rains that kept hydroelectric power plants going strong. Wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy also helped power the country.


6. Costa Rica has an exceptionally high life expectancy of 79, one of the highest in the world.

And receives international praise for its modern healthcare system, where it’s ranked 36th in the world by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the world’s seven Blue Zones, a place where people live longer and happier lives, and has a high concentration of people over age 100. Looks like I will be retiring there :).



7. Costa Rica is one of 23 countries in the world that does not have a standing army. 

In 1948 Costa Rica dissolved its national army after its last civil war, and the abolition of the military was written into the national constitution in 1949. Twenty-one countries, including the United States, signed the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance in 1947, pledging to provide military support to Costa Rica (and any other signee) should they need it. 


8. Every Costa Rican radio station plays the national anthem every morning at 7am.

I just think that is cool. 


9. Costa Rica has a 96% literacy rate.

In rural areas of the country where ticos are very poor and don’t have access to school, classes are taught on air over a national radio station.


10. "Pura Vida" is an upbeat form of greeting one another and the way of life in Costa Rica.

Costa Ricans will often greet one another and bid farewell by saying "pura vida." But pura vida, which translates to "pure life," is more than a turn of phrase to Costa Ricans—it's a state of mind. Costa Ricans take every opportunity to live life to the fullest.  As a result, Costa Rica ranks number one in the Happy Planet Index.


BONUS Fact: In 1998 I (Jen) lived and studied in San Jose, Costa Rica with a full-ride Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship.

It was undoubtedly one of the best years of my life.



Me in Costa Rica!

To read all about my last trip to Costa Rica, jump over to my personal travel blog for all the stories!  Pura Vida!

Explore and shop the items curated on this last trip!


More Posts


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing