Costa Rica is a Central American country rich with sun, sand, and personality --- but there are other aspects of this tropical paradise that may take you aback.
1. The Education System Is Remarkable
Costa Rica claims a 96% overall literacy rate. The literacy rate for citizens between the ages of 15 and 24 is even more promising --- about 98%. This fact alone is pretty impressive, considering Costa Rica's relative poverty.
It's all thanks to the country's "it takes a village" approach to education. Even the poorest citizens are guaranteed access to an education; if nothing else, children can learn through free classes that are broadcast over the radio.
Costa Rica actually holds the record for the highest literacy rate in all of Latin America. Getting an education is free throughout the country, and every citizen is guaranteed an equal opportunity to learn. This high regard for learning, even in the face of endemic poverty, speaks volumes about the spirit of the people who call this beautiful country home.
2. Two Seasons
You won't find any snowfall or shrivelled leaves here. Costa Rica's weather is ubiquitously warm and tropical --- with an average temperature sitting between 70 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Apart from amazing beach weather, Costa Rica experiences only two seasons throughout the year. The dry season lasts from December through April; during this period, you may hardly ever see a raindrop. The wet season lasts from May through November; as you would expect, this is when the island receives most of its rainfall. So, yes, an umbrella or poncho will definitely be needed if you are planning a summer trip!
3. Life Is Celebrated, Even In The Womb
Costa Rica is a place of overwhelming light, positivity, and overall love and appreciation for life. Even the way Costa Ricans refer to pregnancy is uplifting and inspirational. A woman who is expecting is con luz or with light. Once a woman gives birth, locals describe the birthing process as ella dio a luz or you gave light. The celebration of life is taken very seriously in this picturesque country --- making it an even more pleasant place to be.
4. Street Signs Are A Relatively New Concept
Costa Rica is rife with Central American charm and idiosyncrasy, especially when it comes to finding your way around. Local landmarks are what Costa Ricans mainly rely on for directions, so don't be surprised if you leave the country having learned a ton about its history through hearing about its monuments and civic spaces. It wasn't until the year 2012 that the country actually decided to take steps to reintroduce street signs. The city of San Jose began a $1 million dollar project to place street signs and even update the postal system. So, yeah. Getting directions can be a bit of an issue if you're expecting something precise and technical.
5. Life Expectancy Here Is The Highest
How can you be in a bad mood while living in one of the most beautiful places in the world? Apparently, this is the environment where people best thrive --- and the proof is that they live significantly longer. As of 2015, the life expectancy for someone living in Costa Rica was 79.59 years, compared to 78.74 years in the United States. Mortality in the United States is actually 18% higher for adult men than in Costa Rica. So, you know, maybe carefree beach living is the key to longevity. A little sun and sand go a long way, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
6. Terms Of Endearment Are Especially Colorful
Like the vibrant shades of the water, rainforest greenery, and architecture, Costa Rican culture is sprinkled with sunshine. Even common terms of endearment are incredibly playful and downright adorable. While, in the U.S., we refer to our significant others as our "better half," the phrase is much more colourful in Costa Rica. Costa Ricans call their partners their "Media Naranja" or "the other half of the orange." Being loved never sounded so sweet. It's no wonder Costa Ricans live by the motto "pura vida" or "pure life" --- living life to the fullest each and every day. It's obvious through their lifestyles, customs, and even their language.
7. Land Conservation Is Top Priority
It's no secret that tourists flock to Costa Rica year after year to enjoy the lush, verdant canopies of the rainforest. But travelers are not the only ones who want to keep those forests growing strong, as residents and country officials are constantly working to conserve the land. There are a total of 20 national parks, as well as 8 biological reserves and animal refuges, proving Costa Rica is very serious about protecting its natural heritage.
Approximately 26% of the country's land is currently protected, which is a big gift to Mother Nature herself. 50 species of hummingbird and over 200 volcanic formations --- as beautiful as they are --- they're only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the bounty of Costa Rica's wilderness.
Luckily, the government is taking every step it can to ensure the country's most fertile oases remain untouched.