Costa Rica is regularly in the news for smashing sustainability goals but here are some surprising facts about Costa Rica that you might not know.
When you think Costa Rica, you might think of sloths, red eye tree frogs or rainforests, but there’s a lot more to the country than that.
The national mammal is a deer
“Deer learn to recognise different tones or calls to know if there’s a threat flying or on the ground,” our guide Daniel informs us in Manuel Antonio national park. That’s why you’ll often see them stalking underneath groups of capuchin monkeys, whose calls they have learnt to understand.
They were officially named the national mammal back in 1994 to protect them from hunting. Sorry, sloths!
Some town names have a shady history
The town of Parritas, near Manuel Antonio national park, got its name from the shortened phrase of “for Rita,” when people were asked why they were stopping in the area.
Depending on who you speak to, Rita was either a businesswoman who received a lot of post or the owner of a brothel!
The trees grow so quickly they’re used for fence posts
I’ve seen this all over the country, and I love it. They’re planted really evenly and as soon as the trees get to be fence-post sized, they are chopped down. This might not be interesting to some, but I think it’s really clever.
The national bird is a clay-coloured thrush
There are 921 species of bird in Costa Rica, including the migratory one. Of all the colourful, rare birds that could have been selected, the clay coloured thrush was chosen in 1977 for its song. It has 18 different songs and can mimic the calls of other birds for social reasons.
It’s easily spotted throughout Costa Rica, so you should be able to see it wherever you go.
If their birds are making you fall in love with the country, find out why I think it will stay on your bucket list.
They grow palm oil
For better or worse. Ticos have varying opinions of Palma Tica. On the one hand, palm oil plantations are bad for the environment and aren’t very sustainable, with some suggestions that the agrochemicals used are damaging the rivers.
However, they do offer jobs for people. The estate near Quepos used to belong to the United Fruit Company until they left the country. Most now belongs to Palma Tica but some of the land is owned by cooperatives who lease it out.
The palm oil seeds are collected by carts pulled by water buffalo, then put into a big skip by the roadside. These are weighed and collected by lorries.
They LOVE football…
“If you have four things anywhere in Costa Rica you qualify as a town. Soccer field, school, church (Catholic for sure), and a bar, that’s important for everyone,” laughed Joshua, who showed us through the mangroves in on the Damas river.
Some famous Costa Rican players in the UK have been Bryan Ruiz who played for Fulham and Paulo Wanchope who played for Manchester City.
… Almost as much as they love sweet food
Having a burger? You’ll want pineapple relish.
Steak? Here’s some grilled plantain.
Unsure? Have it with Salsa Guanacaste, a sauce made with the fruit tamarind, papaya, ginger, raisins and spices.
There are 116 species of bats in the country
They make up half of all mammals in Costa Rica! If you’re visiting Monteverde, there’s an amazing bat sanctuary called The Bat Jungle. You walk through two sets of doors to get into the dark enclosure, so that the bats are active during the day time visiting hours.
Whilst you’re walking around Costa Rica, look out for long leaves which have been suspiciously bent in the middle. It could be that there are bats sheltering from the sunlight under there!