One of the first things you hear when you arrive in Costa Rica is “Pura Vida.” You may think that it is the Ticos’ (Costa Ricans) way of saying hello, but the term goes much deeper than that. Although the simple translation means “simple life” or “pure life,” its true meaning is much more complex – it’s an entire emotion, an attitude and way of life.
What do I think of Costa Rica? It is pure nature heaven. Here is a brief overview:
GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY
- Costa Rica is a Central American country situated between Nicaragua and Panama.
- Christopher Columbus first visited what is now Costa Rica in 1502.
- Costa Rica has one of the oldest democracies in Latin America and has avoided many of the political problems in the region .
- Costa Rica hasn’t had a national army since 1948.
- Costa Rica is home to approximately 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity, but only occupies around 0.3 percent of the planet’s surface – it is smaller than West Virginia
- Costa Rica has around 200 volcanoes. Five of the volcanoes are active, and Arenal is the most active
- Costa Rica has a population of just under 5 million people—a little more than half the population of New York City.
- 76 percent of Costa Ricans are of the Catholic faith and Catholicism plays an important role in government and education.
- Less than 1 percent of Costa Rica’s population is of indigenous ancestry, and around 94 percent of Costa Ricans have some European heritage.
- Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica, however English is widely spoken
- Costa Rica has a literacy rate of 97.8 percent, one of the highest in the world.
- There are more than 340,000 species of insects in Costa Rica, as well as more than 20,000 species of spider. 900 bird species, 250 mammal species, 200 amphibian species
- Over 70 lizard species reside in Costa Rica
- There are 139 species of snakes in Costa Rica and 22 species are venomous.
- Costa Rica has more than 9000 species of flowering plants, and 800 species of ferns
- Trees can grow up to 100 feet tall
- Costa Rica is home to more than ten percent of all the species of butterfly in the world.
- Costa Rica has over 615 species of animals per 10,000 square miles (US only has 104)
- It has 12 micro-climates
- Over 25% of Costa Rica is protected and all Ticos take preservation and conservation very seriously
- Costa Rican is on track to be completely carbon neutral by 2021
Costa Rica has been called one of the happiest countries in the world. Ticos generally do not stress – they have a relaxed, simple way of looking at life. No worries, no fuss, no stress.
Those of you who know me personally will be beginning to see why Costa Rica is pure nirvana.