FIVE centuries ago, the Spaniards first visited this region. They called it Costa Rica (Rich Coast), thinking that they would find an abundance of gold—a quest that proved futile. This land is today known, not as a source for valuable metals, but as a country with one of the richest biodiversities on earth.
Costa Ricans are known as Ticos, which comes from their custom of adding “-ico” to the end of words to form the diminutive. For example, instead of saying “un momento” (just a moment), they might say “un momentico” (just a little moment). In everyday speech they often say “¡pura vida!” (pure life!) to express their appreciation or their agreement or to say “hello” or “goodbye.”
One of Costa Rica’s favorite dishes is gallo pinto (literally meaning “spotted rooster”)—rice and beans cooked separately and then together with seasonings. Gallo pinto can be served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. A traditional beverage is café chorreado—coffee brewed through a cloth filter hanging in a stand often made of wood.
There are about 450 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Costa Rica. Their meetings are conducted in ten languages, including Costa Rican Sign Language and two languages that are indigenous to Costa Rica—Bribri and Cabecar.
DID YOU KNOW? Hundreds of finely crafted stone spheres have been found in Costa Rica. The largest one is eight feet (2.4 m) in diameter. Some are estimated to be more than 1,400 years old. No one knows for certain why they were made!