Project Costa Rica: Costa Rica's Journey to a Peaceful Society

Costa Rica: At a Glance

by April Stanley

Costa Rica has several waterfalls
throughout the country that attract
  • The country is slightly smaller than West Virginia with a population of about 3.9 million.
  • Twenty-five percent of Costa Rica's land is under protection.
  • Although only .01 percent of the earth's landmass, Costa Rica hosts about 6 percent of the world's biodiversity.
  • In this small country there are 35,000 species of insects, more than 10,000 species of plants, 850 species of birds — more than the United States and Canada combined and 800 species of butterflies — more than the entire African continent.
  • At 96 percent, Costa Rica has the highest literacy rate in Central America.
  • Eighty-two percent of Costa Rica's electricity originates from hydropower.
  • Costa Ricans call themselves "Ticos" or "Ticas."
  • Pura Vida (Pure Life) is one of the most used phrases of the country. It can mean hello, good bye, thank you, what's up, etc.
  • Costa Rica and El Salvador are the only two countries that have an embassy in Jerusalem.
  • Policemen wear a uniform identical to that of public school children in order to avoid appearing hostile or soldier-like.
  • In 1948, Costa Rica became the first country in the modern world to abolish its army. The military funds were transferred to the education and healthcare budgets to provide real security to Costa Rican citizens.
  • Former President Oscar Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 after drafting the Arias Peace Plan, an agreement that initiated negotiations among Central American leaders to address the region's problems.
  • Costa Rica, meaning "rich coast," acquired its name when Christopher Columbus mistakenly assumed the country was full of precious metals.