10 Interesting Facts about Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Nestled between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica offers unique travel experiences and breathtaking views, but what you don’t know about Costa Rica may surprise you! We’ve compiled a list of 10 interesting facts that will not only make you want to pack your bags, but you may just get that next Jeopardy question right.

  • Several species of frog, bird, and other animals are endemic to the area, meaning they aren’t found anywhere else. This includes the strawberry poison dart frog, which has skin that comes in many colors but is also toxic.
  • The Costa Rican army was abolished in 1949 after a bloody 44-day civil war. The military budget was used to create an “army of teachers” — Costa Rica has universal public education and today it has a 97% literacy rate.
  • Its Nicoya Peninsula is a Blue Zone, or a place where people live much longer than the global average. The average lifespan for the country is 79.3 years, but in Nicoya, people regularly live active lives past 100.
  • Costa Rica gained independence from Spain, along with other Central American nations, in 1821. Before becoming an independent country, it briefly considered becoming part of Mexico, Guatemala, or Colombia.
  • While the primary language spoken in Costa Rica is Spanish, there are five indigenous languages spoken, and two others recently went extinct.
  • Arenal is Costa Rica’s youngest volcano, at only 7,500 years old. It erupted in 1968, destroying three towns, and last erupted in 1998. It’s been dormant since 2010.
  • Costa Rica is the most visited nation in Central America. While its biggest exports include bananas and coffee, today its economy relies on tourism. For that reason, while Spanish is the official language, most people speak English.
  • Over 25% of Costa Rica’s land is protected natural area. The country has 27 national parks, despite its small size (it’s just a bit smaller than West Virginia).
  • Costa Rica is home to four species of monkeys, including the white-headed capuchin, which is recognizable due to its appearance in TV and films like Pirates of the Caribbean. Monkeys are known for snatching up tourists’ food and other items.
  • Street names are rare outside of San Jose. Instead, locals will use landmarks to get around.

Learn more about our educational travel programs to Costa Rica.

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