Nine things you should know about Costa Rica

Last updated 11:48 21/06/2014
Costa Rica

PEACE-LOVING: Costa Rica doesn't even have an army.

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Costa Rica's surprise win in this morning's match against Italy have dashed England's hopes of World Cup Glory.

Here are our Top 10 things the Central American country is famous for.

1. Environment

More than a quarter of the country is protected national parks and refuges. There are more than 100 different protected areas to visit, and Costa Rica is one of the world's most valued environmental destinations.

2. Peace

President Oscar Arias Sanchez was in power from 1986 to 1990 and from 2006 to 2010. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end the Central American crisis, when major civil wars erupted in various countries in the late 1970s. He convinced other Central American leaders to sign the Esquipulas Peace Agreement, which provided a framework for ending the civil wars.

The country loves peace so much it also does not have an army - it was constitutionally abolished in 1949.

3. Crappy currency

Their national currency is the Colon. Costa Rican workers are paid an average of about $11.50 a day, which is the highest rate in Central America.

4. Things with wings

Costa Rica boasts 52 species of hummingbirds, 750,000 species of insects, including 20,000 different types of spiders. The country is also home to more than 10 per cent of the world's butterflies.

5. Ticos and Ticas

Costa Ricans refer to themselves as Ticos (males) and Ticas (females). Foreigners are often referred to as Gringos (males) and Gringas (females). The locals are said to be positive, friendly, and full of life.

6. Two halves of an orange?

When a Costa Rican says someone is their significant other, they call them "media naranja" - the other half of their orange.

When married, Ticas do not take their husband's last name, keeping her full maiden name and adding her mother's maiden name. Children take their father's surname.

7. Reading and writing

Costa Rica claims a 96 per cent literacy rate. In rural areas where children cannot get to schools, classes are taught over a national radio station.

8. Racing to world first

No country in the world is carbon neutral yet, but Costa Rica aims to get there first. It has imposed a goal of offsetting all its carbon dioxide emissions and achieving carbon neutrality by 2021.

9. Location, location, location

Narrow and located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea in the tropics means that the rain is abundant - and so are the rainforests. Located between Nicaragua and Panama, it has nearly 300 different beaches along 1,300 kilometres of coastline.

This story has been edited since it was published to remove a reference to prostitution.

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