Interesting facts about Costa Rica

Here are some interesting things we’ve learned about Costa Rica. We’ll keep adding to the list, so check back again later.

  • Costa Rica covers about 19,730 square miles, just a little larger than the states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined and about 81% of the size of West Virginia.
  • The population of Costa Rica, according to the latest census which was taken in 2011, is 4,301,712. About half of those live in the Greater San Jose Metropolitan Area which comprises just over 4% of the area of Costa Rica.
  • Costa Rica’s northernmost point is Penas Blancas at 11° 13′ N, and the southernmost point is Cocos Island at 5° 53′ N.
  • Two South American countries, Columbia and Venezuela, actually extend farther to the north than the northernmost point in Costa Rica.
  • Most towns in Costa Rica are centered around a Catholic Church which almost always faces west and has either a soccer field or central park (known as “El Centro”) adjacent to the entrance.
  • Most places in Costa Rica do not have distinct addresses like we’re used to. Instead, directions are usually given starting from the church or some other notable landmark.
  • Christopher Columbus first arrived in Costa Rica on his fourth voyage in 1502. Other Spanish expeditions followed, and the first Spanish colony, Villa Bruselas, was established in 1524. Costa Rica was considered to be the poorest Spanish colony and was largely left to develop on its own. This resulted in the language and customs developing separately from the rest of Latin America.
  • The Costa Rican army was abolished in 1949.
  • Costa Rica is often referred to as “the Switzerland of Central America”.
  • Many studies, including the Happy Planet Index , have ranked Costa Ricans as the happiest people in the world.
  • Costa Rica’s highest point is Cerro Chirripó with an elevation of 12,533 ft.