Costa Rica is a world-renowned country in Central America famous for its incredibly eco-diversity, beautiful landscapes, and popular adventure destinations.
Below are 9 lesser-known facts about Costa Rica that you may not know:
1 – The Happiest Place on Earth
Costa Rica consistently ranks number one on the Happy Planet Index. Rankings are determined by measuring life expectancy levels, the ecological footprint, and the experience of well-being reported by people. Costa Rica has a score of 64 while the United States comes in far lower at just 37.3 points on the Happy Planet scale.
2 – No Military
In 1949, the government of Costa Rica decided to break with regional tradition and disbanded the military. This freed up the budget to invest in infrastructure projects, education, and healthcare. Today, law and order in Costa Rica is maintained by a small police force and coast guard.
3 – 2 Million and Counting
Thanks to its breathtakingly beautiful nature, abundant wildlife, peaceful and stable government, and some of the best adventure destinations on the planet, over 2 million tourists visit Costa Rica every year.
4 – An Eco-Friendly Economy
Since 1994, tourism has risen to become the number one industry in the country. The majority of Costa Ricans are either directly or indirectly employed in the tourism industry, and the government has made eco-friendly visitor services a top priority.
5 – Volcanos
One of Costa Rica’s most striking features are the more than 60 volcanoes that dot the landscape. Currently, 61 volcanoes are classified as either dormant or extinct while six are active. The most energetic volcano in the country is Arenal which last erupted in 2010.
6 – Tico Town
Local Costa Ricans are officially called Costariqueños in Spanish but universally refer to themselves as Ticos (Ticas is the feminine form). This habit stems from the fact that locals tend to add the diminutive suffix “tico” to many Spanish words, a linguistic quirk that implies cuteness, smallness, or something held in fond affection.
7 – Biodiverse
Many countries can lay claim to thriving jungles and rainforests that teem with life, but Costa Rica is astonishingly bio-diverse. As just one small example, more than 15% of all butterfly species on the planet can be found in Costa Rica.
8 – A Motto to Live By
The unofficial motto of Costa Rica is “Pura Vida”, which literally translates to English as “Pure Life”. This motto is used by Ticos and Ticas as a greeting, a way to say goodbye at the end of conversation, or what to say when seeing a friend on the street.
9 – Four Unesco World Heritage Sites
For their culture and natural value, four different locations in Costa Rica hold the esteemed privilege of being declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Stone Spheres of the Diquis (part of the Pre-columbian Chiefdom Settlements), the Area de Conservacion Guancaste, Cocos Island National Park, and La Amistad National Park.
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