Costa Rica: Overview
Rep˙blica de Costa Rica
Capital San JosÚ
Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica (Spanish: Costa Rica or Rep˙blica de Costa Rica, IPA: [re'pu▀lika e 'kosta 'rika]), is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south-southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Costa Rica was the first country in the world to constitutionally abolish its army.
In 2005, Costa Rica had an estimated population of 4,016,173 persons. The majority of people in Costa Rica are descended from Spanish settlers. In contrast to its neighboring populations, little mixing of the Spanish settlers and the indigenous populations occurred. Therefore, a vast majority of Costa Ricans are either of Spanish or to a lesser extent of mixed meztizo heritage. In addition, there are significant numbers of Costa Ricans of Italian, German, Jewish, and Polish descent. Together, European and Meztizos descendants make up a full 94% of the population. 3% of the population is of black African descent also known as Afro-Latin Americans, and a few are of English-speaking descendants of 19th-century black Jamaican immigrant workers. Another 1% is composed of ethnic Chinese.
As of today, the indigenous population numbers less than 1%, or around 29,000 individuals. In Guanacaste Province, a significant portion of the population descends from a mix of local Amerindians, Africans and Spaniards. There is also a small expatriate community of American and Canadian retirees.
The locals refer to themselves as tico or tica (female). "Tico" comes from the locally popular usage of "tico" diminutive suffixes (eg. 'momentico' instead of 'momentito'). The tico ideal is that of a very friendly, helpful, laid back, unhurried, educated and environmentally aware people, with little worry for deadlines or the "normal" stresses of United States life. Visitors from the United States are often referred to as gringos, which is virtually always congenial in nature. The phrase "Pura Vida" (literally pure life) is a motto ubiquitous in Costa Rica. It encapsulates the pervading ideology of living in peace in a calm, unflustered manner, appreciating a life surrounded by nature and family and friends.
Some folk might use maje or mae (sort of "man", actually maje means "dumb") to refer to each other although this might be slightly insulting to other folk.
Costa Rican traditions and culture tend to retain a strong degree of Spanish influence. Their spoken accent is rather closer to certain areas of Colombia than its Central American counterparts. Costa Rica boasts a varied history. Costa Rica was the point where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures met. The northwest of the country, Nicoya, was the southernmost point of Nahuatl cultural influence when the Spanish conquerors (conquistadores) came in the 16th century. The center and southern portions of the country had Chibcha influences. However, the indigenous people have influenced modern Costa Rican culture to a relatively small degree, as most of the Indians died from disease and mistreatment by the Spaniards. The Atlantic coast, meanwhile, was populated with African slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries, although most Caribbean Costa Ricans of African ascent descend from Jamaican workers brought in during the 19th century to work in the construction of railways connecting the urban populations of the Central Plateau to the port of Limon on the Caribbean coast. During the 19th century Chinese and Italian immigrants came to the country to work on the construction of the railroad system as well.
NOTE: If you want a more details on the country, try the CIA World Fact book: Costa Rica
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