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Welcome to Costa Rica! We hope you’ll find that this guide gives you an introduction to this Central American country.

Costa Rica is the most visited country in Central America. It also has more expats than its neighbors. For those reasons, it’s seen as the least “mysterious” and most “user-friendly” in the region.

Tourists, investors, and would-be expats flock to Costa Rica. They’re attracted by its tropical beaches and stunning natural beauty. The fact that Costa Rica has no army and is a peaceful haven is also attractive to many.

This guide will give you the basic facts and first-hand info that you need when planning a trip to Costa Rica.

Five Facts About Costa Rica

  1. With an area of 19,730 square miles, Costa Rica would fit into Lake Michigan. Within these 19,730 square miles – 0.03 percent of the world’s land surface – you can find five percent of the planet’s biodiversity.
  2. Costa Ricans are known as “Ticos” and they use this nickname to identify themselves. The word “Tico” (or “Tica” for women) comes from the Costa Rican habit of adding the diminutive suffix -itico/a to many words. This differs from the more common -ito that many other Spanish-language countries use. Although Costa Ricans aren’t the only people to use “-itico”, when making a diminutive out of a word, they are the only ones to use it as a term of affection. Of course, nowadays other Spanish-speakers do this too. Also many Costa Ricans also now add -ito instead of -itico to their words. But the word Tico has stuck and will never go away.
  3. Talking of labels, in Costa Rica Americans can expect to be called “gringo”. Not only Americans, actually. Unlike many places in Latin America, any English-speaking person is a gringo. Get used to it. It’s not insulting.
  4. San Jose is the 6th most visited city in Latin America according to the MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index 2016. It’s the only city in Central America to make the top ten, highlighting Costa Rica’s importance as a tourism destination. The only cities more visited in Latin America than San Jose are the metropolises of Mexico City, Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires and Lima. The resort and cruise ship center of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic also makes the list.
  5. American actress Madeline Stowe, famous for playing Victoria Grayson on the ABC drama Revenge, is the great-great-granddaughter of Costa Rican President Bruno Carrenza (President in 1870) and the great-great-grandniece of Costa Rican President Juan Rafael Mora Porras, (President from 1849 to 1859).