The Culture of Costa Rica
The culture of Costa Rica incorporates many people’s customs including indigenous peoples, the Spanish founders, former black slaves and the many “white” or European settlers. Officially called the Republic of Costa Rica, it is the longest standing democracy in South America. Costa Rica proclaimed itself sovereign in 1838, separating itself from the rest of Latin America and its former Spanish colonizers. Since then, in contrast to the neighboring Latin American countries, it has achieved a relatively peaceful and stable existence, having disbanded the army 1949 and becoming a full democracy in 1950. It has also consistently been among the top Latin American countries in the Human Development Index (HDI), which is an index of “potential” human development. Costa Rica was ranked 62nd in the world in 2012. The culmination of history and peaceful co-existence permits Costa Rica to enjoy many rich cultural traditions
During the Spanish colonial period, which began in the 1500s, the region’s lack of a significant indigenous population for slave labor and significant recourses to plunder, left Costa Rica relatively overlooked. Many believe that these idiosyncrasies set the stage for Costa Rica’s development as a more egalitarian society. In the 1800’s, the economy began to develop around agriculture. In recent years, in addition to agriculture, high tech and in particular Eco tourism are significant drivers of the economy.
Spanish is the native tongue of Costa Rica, followed by English, followed by German, French, Italian, and Chinese. As well, there is a dialect called Maketelyu, more of a Creole found along the Atlantic side of the country. Only 2% (or less) of the population is indigenous (Native Americans). The faces of the people are of mixed races with the majority considered “white”. There are many African mullatos, mixed black Africans, Europeans, Asians and some Chinese (since 1873). Over the centuries many people migrating along the isthmus between South and North America settled in Costa Rica and in modern times, many travelers who come for a visit fall in love with the land and choose to become residents.