Costa Rica Culture
Costa Rica was conquered by Spanish in the 16th century, so from the beginning it was heavily influenced by the Spanish culture. Limon and the Cordillera de Talamanca are the exception with the predominance of Black Jamaicans and indigenous people. The Ticos and Ticas (the way Costa Ricans denominate themselves) are generally of mixed origins. There were a great number of immigrants who came to Costa Rica during the construction of the railroad; mostly the immigrants came from Jamaica and from China, and stayed in the Caribbean side of the country on Limon Province.
Costa Ricans speak Spanish, although there have been a great effort from the government to teach English in most schools due to the world necessities nowadays. Normally Ticos and Ticas speak in the respectful manner of "usted", and in the familiar form of "vos" rather than "tu", used in other Latin American countries. The term Ticos and Ticas came from the way Costa Ricans talk using diminutives with the suffixing -ito and -ita.
The official religion of Costa Rica is Catholicism, although there are other religions practiced in the country. It is very common to see each town in Costa Rica, no matter the side, with a Catholic Church in from of the park or soccer field. In big cities such as San Jose, there are dozens of Catholic Churches everywhere, some are even icons of the Costa Rican Culture and of the city they lie in. The "Patrona" or official virgin of Costa Rica is the Virgen de Los Angeles, also known as "La Negrita", and its main Catholic Church is located in the city of Cartago. One of the main religious festivals in the country is the tradition of "La Romeria", which takes place on August 2 of each year. During this religious festival, thousands of Ticos and Ticas from everywhere in the country, walk to the Cartagos Church, Basilica de Los Angeles.
Costa Rica is a country without army, so the money that would have been given to maintain the army is invested in education and public health. School is free for every child, and there are 4 well developed huge public Universities in the country (Universidad de Costa Rica UCR, Universidad Nacional UNA, Instituto Tecnologico de Costa Rica ITCR and Universidad de Educacion a Distancia UNED). According to the UNESCO, 96% of the population is literate.
Costa Ricans use the expression PURA VIDA to state that something is good or ok. It truly represents and differentiates them from other Latin-Americans. As for the cuisine, it is a mix among Spanish, Caribbean, and American food style, with the intense usage of beans, rice, plantains, vegetables and some kind of meat (chicken, fish, meat or pork), all in the famous "Casado". In recent years it has opened to include cuisines from other countries increasing their culinary culture. Costa Rica is an agricultural country, which based its economy in the "Golden Bean" or Coffee. The main agricultural products are Coffee and pineapple among many others. Tourism is Costa Rica´s biggest economic activity, so it has developed a touristic culture to serve and take care of its tourists. Costa Rica has also taken care of it natural resources and have a lot to offer for tourist seeking nature and adventure activities.
Among Costa Rican culture icons are the Carreta, colorfully decorated with geometric patterns and organic shapes, the official Virgen de Los Angeles, the instrument Marimba, the national flower Guaria Morada (orchid), the national bird Yiguirro, and the national hero Juan Santamaria, among others.
Costa Rica´s Central Market
When visiting Costa Rica, don´t forget to visit any of the numerous city markets present in each big city of Costa Rica. The most important is the Central Market, located in San Jose Downtown and where tourist may experience the real daily life of Costa Ricans. It is one of the most representative places in old San Jose and an icon of Costa Rican Culture.
On colonial times, the small town of San José was called "La Boca del Monte", because it served as the main entrance to the central part of the country. With time farmers settle down with their families on the area founding want later would be San Jose.
Costa Rica´s Central Market is visited for over 20 thousand people every day, giving the place a life of its own. It was founded in 1882 and it has been remodeled several times, but it keeps its labyrinth like structure and many exit doors. It is also a place where you can enjoy typical Costa Rican food, like the "Casados" (rice, beans, salad, cheese, plantains, tortillas and meat), "gallo pinto" (rice with beans) and the deliciously sweet drink "agua dulce" (water with national sugar candy).
The fruits, vegetables, meats, and merchandise are sold on good prices, and while you walk through the hallways, you will enjoy the smell of fresh made tortillas. Like San Jose Central Market, also other cities like Cartago, Heredia, Alajuela, Limon, and Liberia have also a city market. Smallest cities like Grecia have a small market with lots to offer, very clean and with art murals to decorate the place. When you come to Costa Rica, don’t forget to visit one of the markets and experience the Costa Rican culture and history.