The Culture of Costa Rica

What are the Main Traits of the Culture of Costa Rica?

The culture of Costa Rica, like that of the rest of Central and South America, is a blend of the Spanish European culture of the conquistadors and the culture of the local Indians. As such, Costa Rica’s basic cultural fabric is the same Hispanic culture found throughout the rest of the region. The Spanish elements are strong, and could probably be termed predominant, but they are given a distinctive mood and outlook by a foundation of ancient Indian cultural perceptions.

Costa Rica’s culture is quite modernized, due in part to the nation’s 96% literacy rate, which exposes the populace to the full force of foreign, contemporary influences. Although there are a large number of poor, and in many cases still agrarian, people at the bottom of the social pyramid, the Costa Rican middle class is much larger than that of any other country in the region. You are likely to encounter many of the modern amenities in Costa Rican cities, though the the countryside is necessarily more primitive.

What Foods are Eaten in the Culture of Costa Rica?

The relatively affluent urban and suburban classes in Costa Rica eat many types of food that are almost generic among the industrialized nations of the world, and have shown a keen – and rapidly growing – hunger for fast food from large global chains like McDonald’s. If you have a craving for fast food in Costa Rica, then the capital city and likely the smaller cities as well can satisfy your culinary wishes..

The poor and those who are more traditionally minded eat a diet which is centered on tortillas (corn bread), rice, and beans, much as is the case in Mexico and other Central American nations. You can also find regular and gourmet restaurant cuisine with a distinctively Central American flavor, allowing you to enjoy something different from the accustomed food that you eat at home.

Many retreats, especially those dedicated to spiritual enlightenment through yoga or similar Eastern practices, offer vegetarian meals. The food may be grown on the site and you may even be invited to participate in cultivating it as a way to get in touch with the rhythms of a simpler way of life.

What are the Minority Cultures Found in the Culture of Costa Rica?

Though Hispanic culture is predominant and modernity is sweeping steadily across Costa Rica, slowly eroding even this amount of local culture, there are still some surviving cultures embedded in the midst of the larger Costa Rican society. The northwest is home to several large tribes of Indians who remain mostly separate, tilling the soil and pursuing their immemorial interests. These Indians even worship their own god, Sibo, usually given the sobriquet of “the Creator”.

There is also a district inhabited by many Afro-Costa Ricans, who were isolated by racial barriers for a long while and still retain their own cultural identity, including their Protestant religion in a largely Catholic country. Interestingly, these Afro-Costa Ricans speak English, making them easier for visitors from the English speaking world to converse with than some of their fellow countrymen.

The majority of Costa Ricans are either of European descent or of mixed Indian and European descent, with the European element being by far the strongest. The official language is Spanish, spoken with an accent similar to that of Nicaragua, with, naturally, a few local dialectic variations.

How Do People Make a Living in the Culture of Costa Rica?

Although it sounds like the opening to a stereotypical description, Costa Rica’s main economic activity is the growing and export of bananas. Tourism has been steadily catching up, however, and every ecotourist helps to ensure the future of Costa Rica’s remarkable natural treasures by providing an economic incentive to preserve it. Someday, ecotourism may overtake banana growing, or perhaps even supplant it, allowing the plantations to return to a natural state.