Country Information Guide

Before you embark on your Global Study tour to Costa Rica, it's important to have a basic understanding of various aspects of the country: geography, history, educational system, political system, arts and culture, environmental issues, business and economy, and the cities and/or universities you will be visiting.

General Resources

Be sure you are familiar with the geography of Costa Rica. Print out a map, or purchase a map of the country.

CIA World Factbook: Costa Rica

A few basic facts you should know...

Who is the president of Costa Rica? Oscar Arias Sanchez 2006-present

How many national languages are there?Spanish (official), English

How many provinces are there? 7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose

When did Costa Rica gain their independence? 15 September 1821 (from Spain)

What is the capital of Costa Rica? San Jose

Arts and Culture

Commerce and Economic Issues



Government and Law

Government type:

democratic republic

Flag description:

five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white elliptical disk on the hoist side of the red band; above the coat of arms a light blue ribbon contains the words, AMERICA CENTRAL, and just below it near the top of the coat of arms is a white ribbon with the words, REPUBLICA COSTA RICA

Human Rights


The Top 3 Costa Rican Expressions:

-mae (my): Mae can be used to mean "dude" between friends, or simply to refer to any man or woman ("ese mae te esta llamando" = "that guy is calling you").

-pura vida (poor-ah vee-dah): Pura vida means "pure life," but more than anything, it's a way of life. This phrase symbolizes the Costa Rican idea of letting things go, and simply enjoying life. Use it as an answer to "como estas?" ("how are you?"), or to say "thank you" or "you're welcome."

tico / tica (tee-ko/tee-ka): Due to a quirk of speech, Costa Ricans are called Ticos. Since Spanish uses gendered nouns, a Costa Rican man is a Tico, and a Costa Rican woman is a Tica.

Travel and Geography