Things I Have Learned About Costa Rica

Melissa King is a student at Arizona State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in San José, Costa Rica.


  1. Costa Rica means “Rich Coast.”
  2. Costa Rica is surrounded by the Pacific and Caribbean oceans, and even has some islands.
  3. It has lush tropical rain forests.
  4. Costa Rica is home to more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity, with a landmass of only .03% of the planet’s surface.
  5. The country is home to more than 120 volcanoes. Seven of them are active. Poas Volcano has the second widest crater in the world (nearly one mile in diameter), and Arenal Volcano is one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world. In the last week of May 2016, Turrialba erupted numerous times.
  6. Costa Rica’s highest point is Chirripo Mountain at 12,500 feet. The lowest point is 790 feet below sea level in the caves of Barra Honda National Park.
  7. Costa Rica cares about wildlife. With over 100 different protected areas to explore, more than 25% of its land is dedicated to national parks, reserves and wildlife refuges.
  8. Sunsets and sunrises take place at almost the same time every day of the year because Costa Rica is so close to the equator (sometimes at night the sky is pink!).
  9. There is a population of about 4.5 million people, and the country boasts one of the highest life expectancies in the world, at about 77 years.
  10. Locks on houses and doors are almost always backwards (compared to U.S. standards).
  11. Costa Ricans are usually shorter in stature and thus furniture is often times a bit lower.
  12. There no longer is a standing military and instead, money goes towards education.
  13. There is no Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, but instead there is a dry season (December – April) and a rainy season (May-November).
  14. Costa Rica’s plumbing is often older, and/or has smaller piping. Therefore, to prevent clogging, most of the time toilet paper goes into waste bins, rather than being flushed.
  15. Costa Ricans are referred to as Ticos (males) and Ticas (female).
  16. They are very family oriented and often live close or with their families.
  17. There is very little pedestrian activity, and pedestrians do not have the right of way.
  18. There are often no official mailing addresses, and instead Costa Ricans refer to landmarks and distances from a landmark. In addition, there are very few street signs and it can get really confusing at times.
  19. Transportation is more public. In San José, car owners are not allowed to drive into the city one day out of the week, which corresponds to the last number on their car’s license plate. Public transportation such as the bus is often the best way to get around, and costs very little.
  20. Costa Rica has many sodas! A soda is a small informal restaurant that sells traditional meals (chicken, rice, beans, salad) for very cheap.
  21. It is home to one of the largest uninhabited islands in the world (Cocos Island). This island was used for the filming of Jurassic Park.
  22. Costa Rica and Pura Vida go hand in hand. This is a saying used in many day-to-day interactions.

The world awaits…discover it.

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