ABOUT COSTA RICA

One of the happiest countries in the world!

With a population of 4.8 million people and only 51 thousand square kilometers, Costa Rica is a relatively small country. Despite our size, our privileged location between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans has 14 volcanoes, countless rivers & waterfalls, and extensive protected areas, which provide much to offer! All of this variety results in the world’s greatest biodiversity and fun activities year round. Our YWAM base is located in Costa Rica’s capital, San José, the country’s metropolitan area. Approximately one-third of the country’s population lives within this area, which is also the central hub for government and industry. Despite its size, San José remains one of the safest cities in Latin America, making it safe for locals and foreigners to enjoy its charm.

10 Reasons to do your DTS at YWAM San José, Costa Rica

CULTURE

The happiest country in the world; a paradise for peace and biodiversity. Costa Rica is a country known for many reasons, but Costa Rica’s history and culture extend far beyond the reach of international recognition. The small Central American nation is home to incredible biodiversity and rich cultures, a passion for freedom, and a history of democracy, equality, and education for all. Costa Rican culture is a vibrant blend of indigenous heritage and Spanish colonial influence, with a dash of Jamaican, Chinese, and other immigrant cultures lending character and customs. The result is a nation of laid-back, friendly, and happy people, which define themselves as “pura vida”.

The official language is Spanish, but there are six indigenous languages that are still used by their respective populations. Also, a large group of the population living Caribbean coast (Limón) are decedents of Jamaicans. Due to this fact, many people have a Caribbean accent. There are many people in this area that also speak a dialect that is called Patua. Patua is a mix between English, French, and Spanish.

They are proud of their long-standing history as a democracy. In fact, they are the oldest and most stable democracy in the region. It is a nation proud to be without an army (Costa Ricans disbanded their armed forces in 1949).

Costa Ricans believe in education and healthcare, and make it freely available to its people. They are also proud of their world leadership in pioneering sustainable environmental and conservation policies. The locals go out of their way to propagate their environmental ethos by helping visitors appreciate the natural beauty of their land and wildlife.

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GEOGRAPHY

  • Costa Rica is around the same size as Lake Michigan, and slightly smaller than West Virginia.

  • The U.S. is roughly 181 times larger than Costa Rica.

  • Costa Rica has more than 800 miles of coastline.

  • The highest mountain in Costa Rica, Cerro Chirripó, stands at 3,810 meters above sea level.

  • Although not all of them are active, Costa Rica has around 200 volcanoes.

  • 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.

  • Poás Volcano in central Costa Rica has the second-largest volcanic crater in the world.

  • There are 7 provinces, each with their special and unique characteristics.

  • San José is the capital city.

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HISTORY

  • Noted explorer Christopher Columbus first visited what is now Costa Rica in 1502.

  • Spanish colonists first established a permanent presence in Costa Rica in 1563.

  • After a short-lived civil war, Costa Rica’s constitution was passed in 1949.

  • Costa Rica hasn’t had a national army since 1948.

  • Costa Rica has one of the oldest democracies in Latin America, having avoided many of the political problems in the region in the 1970s and 1980s.

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NATURE

  • Costa Rica has 6% of the planet’s biodiversity, which makes it the country with the greatest biodiversity on the planet per square kilometer of territory.

  • Costa Rica is home to more than ten percent of all the species of butterfly in the world.

  • Costa Rica has around 615 species of animal per 10,000 square miles. By comparison, the U.S. has 104.

  • 25% of the territory are protected areas, national parks and nature reserves, which preserves to a great extent the integrity of the species.

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PEOPLE

  • The Costa Rican people affectionately refer to themselves as Ticos. This term is rooted in how they play with the Spanish language. On occasions, Costa Ricans have the tendency to add the suffix –tico to a certain word. It can be used to indicate smallness in something, but can also carry an affectionate or ‘cute’ meaning. It further states the point that the Costa Rican culture is one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This wonderful quality lays at the root of their peaceful and kind nature.

  • Costa Rica has a population of just under 5 million people—a little more than half the population of New York City.

  • Less than 1 percent of Costa Rica’s population is of indigenous ancestry, and around 94 percent of Costa Ricans have some of primarily European heritage.

  • Costa Rica has a literacy rate of 97.8 percent, one of the highest in the world.

  • Famous Costa Ricans include a Nobel Peace Prize winner (Oscar Arias), an astronaut (Franklin Chang), and one of the best goalies in the world (Keylor Navas of Real Madrid).

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