I am very in love with my country and despite the situations that sometimes happen (as in every family) I prefer to focus on good things. I found so many curious facts about Costa Rica, some of which I had no idea, that I’m thinking of doing the second part of this article. But for now, I leave you the 15 curiosities of Tiquicia that make me swell with pride:
1 – The colloquial name Tico was born during the Central American War against the filibusters of William Walker (1856-1857), when the combatants of the allied countries of Costa Rica noticed that the Costa Rican soldiers had the particularity of using the diminutive -ico-, to substitute the -ito or –ita endings (patico, chiquitico, gatico instead of ‘patito’, ‘chiquitito’, ‘gatito’) In particular, Costa Ricans referred to their compatriots as the hermaniticos, which was an affectionate form of the little brothers. The nickname became general and even gave rise to the place name Tiquicia, which is what we call the farm, that is, Costa Rica.
2 – But we not only use that diminutive but also in Costa Rica we have the habit of cutting the words. For example, we don’t go to the supermarket, we just go to the super. If we get sick, we don’t go to the hospital, but the hospi. Also, if you like beaches, we recommend you to visit Guana (Guanacaste) and so on and so on… Something very funny that has happened to me here in Poland, while doing official formalities such as opening a bank account, they ask about my mom’s name and I have to admit that I really enjoy looking at their faces when I say or write in a paper María de los Ángeles – plus her surnames.
If you are interested in learning some Spanish (Tico way), let me share with you the video of one of my favorite Costa Rican singer-songwriter Don Carlos Guzmán who explains it better. If not, you still can enjoy the music!
3 – On August 9, 1884, the city of San José became the first capital of Latin America and the third in the world, after New York and Paris, to have electric lighting. On the night of August 9, 1884, the Costa Rican Manuel Víctor Dengo, who had fallen in love with the Pearl Street electric station installed by Thomas Edison in New York, was the promoter of this project after allying with the Guatemalan Luis Beltrán, both founded the Compañía Eléctrica from Costa Rica.
4 – Despite the above, in Costa Rica, the houses and streets do not have names or numbers and it was not until a few years ago that signs were placed on the main streets and avenues of each province. So how do we get there or find our destination? Better yet, how do we help tourists do it? We Ticos have a very particular way of giving directions.
5 – The first McDonald’s restaurant in Latin America was opened in San José (our capital) in 1970; It was the second location outside the United States since the first one was in British Columbia (Canada). At the same time, it was the first international franchise to establish operations in the country. This place was located in front of the Central Bank in San José, thereby the well known as the black bank (Banco de Costa Rica which building is this color, please don’t think wrong! )
6 – Our territory has an extension of 51,100 km² (Lake Michigan is larger than our country) With just 0.03% of the world’s land area, Costa Rica has approximately 6.5% of the planet’s biodiversity. For the year 2013, 52.4% of the total surface of the country was covered with forests and jungles, showing an increase of 12% in the recovery of forest cover in the last 17 years. Approximately 25% of the territory is protected. Between 2005 and 2010, the country presented a reduction in its deforestation rate.
7 – In this little piece of land it has an approximate of 200 volcanoes, 5 of them currently active, and perceiving an earthquake from time to time is perfectly normal.
8 – In our nation the army was abolished voluntarily on December 1, 1948, betting on education and health. The event in which the armed forces were suppressed was held in the former Bellavista Barracks, today the National Museum of Costa Rica, where we can see a plaque with the following phrase:
«In this square that we open today the children will sing and the poets will recite, the painters will exhibit and the students will play, the pensioners will rest and the bride and groom will kiss. You will never hear the echo of a soldier’s boots here. ” Oscar Arias Sánchez, October 28, 1989.
9 – As for the climate, we have 2 very marked seasons: the dry season (from December to April) and rainy (from May to November), although if you ask us, it is summer and winter for us. However, we have a series of microclimates that favor the great variety of vegetation located in the different types of forest (rainy, cloudy and tropical dry)
10 – We are one of the countries with the best life expectancy in the entire American continent and we have a very strong public health system, surpassing even powers like the United States. By the time I’m editing this article, we have 4 months dealing with covid19, with only 36 unfortunate deaths and 2441 people recovered.
11 – Some tourists say that we have the most beautiful banknotes in the world for their color and for how the country’s biodiversity is represented.
12 – Have you heard of the Blue Zones? These are characterized by being the longest-lived in the world and are found in Okinawa (Japan), Icaria (Greece), Sardinia (Italy), Loma Linda (California), and on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.
13 – CR has 5 World Heritage Sites recognized by Unesco: The Cordillera de Talamanca La Amistad Reserve, Isla del Coco National Park, Guanacaste Conservation Area, The tradition of boyeo and carts, Pre-Columbian settlements with spheres of Stone of the Diquís. Also on the Tentative List: Corcovado National Park and Isla del Caño Biological Reserve.
14 – 99% of the energies are renewable based on the five clean sources of the national matrix: water, geothermal, wind, biomass, and sun.
15 – We are well known for being the country of «Pura Vida». This phrase represents us! You will hear it everywhere and we use it for almost everything! Some examples are Hello! Goodbye! also when we think someone is a very nice person and a few times it is even used as sarcasm.
Being a pure life symbolizes the simplicity of good living, joy, satisfaction, conformity, happiness, and optimism. In other words, the Hakuna Matata of the Ticos.
I have many other fun facts pending to write, so stay tuned !!
Costa Ricanism: Word, expression, or turn typical of the Spanish of Costa Rica. What is our colloquial and slang Spanish like?