Costa Rica history, culture, climate, biodiversity, plants, birds, mammals, and national parks are covered on this page.
Costa Rica History and Culture
The national motto of this peaceful, safe,
stable democracy, is Pura Vida, or pure life, and with good reason. According to the New Economics Foundations "Happy Planet Index," the people of Costa Rica are among the most
cheerful and happy in the world. They rank number one or two! Costa Rica also ranks number one among 24 Latin American countries in the Inter-American Development Bank's life satisfaction index. Jaco is no exception, as you will discover when you arrive.
As a tourist, you are unlikely to
encounter any of the guarded behavior, aggressive hustling, or unsubtle
resentment that many travelers feel in other developing nations; the
people here are genuinely friendly and helpful.
The roots of this attitude may lie in Costa Rica's unusual history. While
all Latin American history is influenced by the Spanish conquest of the
New World, Costa Rica's colonial history is unique. When the would-be
conquistadores arrived on the Carribean coast, instead of the gold
deposits they sought and the centralized societies of peasant corn
farmers that provided an easy source of slave labor in other areas, they
found swamps, mosquitos, and hunter gatherers.
The swamps, dense jungle, and mountainous terrain had never produced a
monumental society like the Aztecs or Incas for the Spanish to conquer.
Thus the first Spaniards to arrive in Costa Rica left the swampy coast
for the fertile central valley where they established farms and stayed
out of touch with the imperial power. This flourishing self-reliant farm
culture lasted for years with little interference with the Spanish
While other Latin American countries have a legacy of slavery
that created income disparity that still persists, Costa Rica has
enjoyed a relatively egalitarian history that has produced a strong
middle class that eventually declared independence from Spain in 1821.
Having stayed out of conflicts for many years, Costa Rica took the
unusual step of abolishing its army in 1949, dedicating additional
resources to education.
The people are justifiably proud of their peaceful history, and the
historic actions of government act as a model for personal behavior. It is
very rare to hear "ticos" raise their voices in anger. The local name
for Costa Rican's, "ticos" comes from their playful habit of creating
slang by reversing syllables. Hence cousin - "primo" becomes "mopri" and
the suffix signifying small one "cito" (for instance pobrecito - poor
little one) becomes "tico."
Costa Rica ranks first in the Americas and fifth in the world for
environmental protection according to Yale University's index.
Rica is considered a developing nation, access to education is good,
income disparity and infant mortality are low, literacy is over 90%, and
the country consistently ranks among the top Latin American countries in
the United Nation human development index. Costa Rica's four and half
million inhabitants have an average income of around $11,000 per year,
which is the highest in the region.
Costa Rica Information Links
The University of Texas has Costa Rica Information. Here is a page of Costa Rica links from a college class, and here is a newspaper from Costa Rica in English.
Wikipedia also has an interesting Costa Rica page.