PEOPLE & CULTURE
Costa Rica has a population of over 4.3 million and is heavily influenced by Spanish culture. The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish, but some native languages such as Bribrí are still spoken in indigenous reservations. About 11% of Costa Rica's adult population also speaks English, 0.7% French, and 0.3% speaks Portuguese or German as a second language.
According to the 2011 census, of the 4.5 million people living in Costa Rica, 94% are whites and mestizos, 3% are black or Afro-Caribbean, 1% Native American, 1% Chinese, and 1% other. The average Costa Rican from the Central Valley is 75% European, 20% Amerindian and 5% Black.
Costa Rica is composed of seven provinces, which in turn are divided into 81 cantons. These seven provinces are Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas, and San José. The city of San José is the capital and largest city of the country.
When visiting Costa Rica you will most likely be greeted by Costa Ricans with the phrase "Pura Vida." This phrase literally means "Pure life" (Pura = pure / vida = life), but its real meaning is closer to "plenty of life", "full of life", "this is living!", "going great", "real living", "Awesome!" or "cool!". It can be used both as a greeting or a farewell.
Costa Rican Cuisine
Costa Rican cuisine is a blend of Native American, Spanish, Caribbean, South American, African and many other cuisine origins, and is known for being flavorful, yet fairly mild, with high reliance on fresh fruit and vegetables. One national dish is gallo pinto, which is made of a combination of black beans, white rice, spiced with cilantro, onions, garlic, salt, and Salsa Lizano. Other typical dishes are fried plantains, arroz con pollo, olla de carne, tamales and casado. Costa Rican cuisine.
Dance-oriented genres, such as soca, salsa, bachata, merengue, cumbia and Mexican music are very popular among older generations and people in the countryside. American and European music are very popular and common among the youth (especially urban youth).
Education is highly regarded in Costa Rica by most of the population. The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 95%, which makes it the fifth highest among Latin American countries. The Costa Rican government invested about 6% of its gross domestic product in education. Primary (1st-6th grade) and secondary (7th-11th or 12th) are mandatory for all citizens.
Costa Rica has a great healthcare system. About 7 % of the country's GDP is allocated to the health sector, and over 70% of the system is government funded. In recent years Costa Rica has become a popular destination for medical tourism, particularly for American tourists because of its proximity and short flight, the quality of medical services, and lower medical costs. The life expectancy for Costa Ricans is 79 years, and in some places, such as in the Nicoya Peninsula, many people commonly live active lives past the age of 100 years.
The Costa Rican Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Christianity is the predominant religion. About 44.9% of the population identify themselves as practicing Roman Catholics, 25.6% non-practicing Roman Catholics, 13.8% evangelical Protestants, 11.3% report they do not have a religious affiliation, and 4.3% declare "another religion."