Country Profile – Culture

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Costa Rica has a proud culture with a lot to offer to those who would like to discover it. Its richness lies in the cultural diversity of its people.  All through history, on top of the indigenous population that was here prior to the Spanish Conquest, the country has supported waves of immigrants that have come down to settle here.

Costa Rica received its first printing press in 1830. In the first part of the twentieth century its literature has given us beautiful writings depicting our customs, unique essayists and writers.  To be highlighted are the social novels of Carlos Luis Fallas and most recently great modern poets.

The painters that found nationalism left a deep imprint on regional esthetics.  The jump to and accelerated modernization was given by Francisco Amighetti and his generation. Furthermore, Costa Rica has had famous portrait painters such as Enrique Echandi, Gonzalo Morales Alvarado and Gonzalo Morales Suárez. Other landscape artists that are well known in Costa Rica are Rodolfo Stanley, Fernando Carballo and Rafa Fernández.

Once the Youth Symphony Orchestra was formed, many vocations flowed.  This resulted in the current National Symphony Orchestra.  Dance is also one of the most popular disciplines and theater has been going strong for the past 30 years.  Today, Costa Rica has a great number of artistic venues that include music, dance, theater, cinema and television productions, visual arts and literature.

Likewise, beyond the mestizo majority, there are various national ethnic groups as well as immigrant groups who claim their own particular cultural heritage such as those of African descent, Chinese, Hebrews, Lebanese, Italians, etc.  The Indian Tribes include the Bribri, the Cabécar, the Maleku, the Teribe, the Boruca, the Ngöbe, the Huetar and the Chorotega.

Costa Ricans are proud to have a democratic tradition of over 50 years without an army. It was abolished in 1948 and the Money that was saved is invested in improving the standard of living of its inhabitants.  This results in social peace and makes Costa Rica a pleasant place to visit.

The “ticos”, as Costa Ricans are also known, are famous for their hospitality and they like to keep this reputation.  They are well educated and hard workers.  They like to smile at people and to shake hands.

They know their land is special.  They usually will happily help a visitor who is lost, taking the time to explain things that the visitor may find strange.  They will try to make the visitor’s stay as pleasant as possible. It is often said that the ticos are the countrie’s best asset and once you have experienced their friendliness and spontaneity you will have no doubt that this is true.


Puerto Limón is the main port of call on the Caribbean for cruise ships.  It receives its visitors surrounded by exuberant vegetation and the warm and friendly people of African-Caribbean descent.

When you land here you can choose from a variety of environments.  The North Caribbean offers adventure and greater contact with nature – Tortuguero National Park. Here you will find bird watching, turtle nesting natural waterways and an enormous variety of plants to complete your tour.

The Southern Caribbean offers you beaches and local customs of the people who live here. Cahuita, Puerto Viejo and Gandoca Manzanillo represent the main towns where you will find the Caribbean flavor both in their architecture and their food to your great satisfaction.

All of this beautiful scenery is complemented by an excellent tours system.  These are organized to offer you a broad choice of activities including: cable cars, horseback riding, nature tours, boat trips down to Tortuguero’s channels, visits to pineapple orchards, tropical flower nurseries, sugar cane farms or banana plantations as well as a possible tour to the capital. Being so close to the Panama Canal, the Gulf of Mexico and the southern portion of the United States gives this area a privileged location.

At 160 Km. from San José by land, it has a 280 m long and 70 m wide bulwark with a new multiuse dock.

The cruise ship terminal with the roll on ramps for passenger’s ships was built in 1997 and modernized in 2003. It is 10 m deep, 295 m long and 16 m wide. The dock offers all the services to provide a smooth operation in a secure and professional manner. There is potable water, fuel, crew support and other services.

During the cruise season, which is from October to April, the Port of Limón receives many important cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Premier Holland America and many others.

The Port of Moín is located 8.2 km west of Limón.  Together they form the largest Central American port complex and it’s a commercial doorway to markets found in the United States, Latin America and Europe.


Puntarenas and Caldera are the two main ports on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. These ports are administrated by INCOP (Costa Rican Pacific Port Institute).

From either port you are less than 2 hours away from great attractions with a diverse choice of tours offered in these areas: like the national parks located in the Central Pacific area such as Manuel Antonio and Carara; trips to the Central Valley where you can see the grandeur of the Poás Volcano, Sarchi – well known for its beautiful handicrafts, or a visit to the capital.

The richness of the Central Pacific can be discovered by horseback riding, observing the crocodiles, going on cable cars, rafting, zipping or hiking through the tree tops – all close by.