Tadashi

Written by Tadashi

Modified & Updated: 16 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

At first glance, Costa Rica looks like another small Central American country. But in this case, appearances do deceive, as it has the most successful historical record out in the region. Learn more about this amazing country with these 50 facts about Costa Rica.

  1. Costa Rica has an estimated area of 51,060 km².
  2. Water makes up an estimated 1.5% of the country’s area.
  3. It also has an estimated population of 5 million people.
  4. This gives the country an estimated population density of 85 people for every km².
  5. Costa Rica lies in the GMT-6 time zone.
  1. Humans first arrived in what would become Costa Rica around 10,000 B.C.
  2. Christopher Columbus became the first European to arrive in Costa Rica in 1502.
  3. The Spaniards described Costa Rica as their poorest colony in the 18th century.
  4. Costa Rica became part of Guatemala after it gained independence in 1821.
  5. Costa Rica became its own country in 1838.
  6. The country’s economy boomed through the early 19th century thanks to trade with Britain and the USA.
  7. A military dictatorship briefly ruled Costa Rica from 1917 to 1919.
  8. The Costa Rican Civil War erupted in 1948 and lasted only 44 days.
  9. Proper elections in Costa Rica resumed in 1953 under a new constitution.
  10. Costa Rica today has the reputation of Central America’s most stable democracy.
  1. Costa Rica spends 6.9% of its budget on education, more than the global average of 4.4%.
  2. The Press Freedom Index rates Costa Rica as having the seventh freest press in the world.
  3. The World Happiness Report similarly rates Costa Rica as the 12th happiest country in the world.
  4. It also has the status of the 37th most democratic in the world according to the Freedom in the World Index.
  5. The Human Development Index rates Costa Rica as the fifth-most developed in Latin America.
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