If you haven’t already booked a holiday to Thomson’s new long-haul destination, Costa Rica, here are 25 facts about Central America’s poster child to tempt you…
If Costa Rica tickles your fancy, commit this little lot to memory. Let’s just say you’ll really wow your hairdresser the next time they ask, “So, are you going anywhere nice on holiday?“…
1. Costa Rica is part of Central America, sandwiched between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.
2. The country is set between two different oceans – the Atlantic laps the eastern seaboard while the Pacific caresses the western shores.
3. While Costa Rica lays claim to just 0.03 per cent of the world’s land mass, it boasts a whopping 5% of the Planet Earth’s biodiversity.
4. Costa Rica has made something of a name for itself in the ecology stakes – 25% of the country is given over to national parks and conservation areas.
5. A species of jungle fern was recently named ‘Lady Gaga’ by scientists after the pop diva played a gig in Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose.
6. The meter in a taxi is nicknamed a ‘Maria’ – a loose reference to the Virgin Mary and her honesty.
7. Along with countless birds, fish and reptiles, Costa Rica has a monster clutch of butterflies. In fact, 10% of the world’s butterfly population lives here.
8. There’s not really a notion of summer and winter in Costa Rica. Instead there’s a dry season between December and April and a rainy season from May to November.
9. Costa Rica has a really big surf scene – thanks in part to Robert August, star of the 1968 surfing documentary called Endless Summer. He now lives on Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica.
10. In total, Costa Rica has a staggering 800 miles of coastline to its name, including dreamy palm-fringed beaches, tropical lagoons and dramatic cliffs cloaked in greenery.
11. The famous Tortuguero region is only accessible by boat and so is a haven for birds, monkeys, sloths and turtles.
12. There are a dozen volcanoes in Costa Rica, but cone-shaped Arenal, is the most visited. Around its base you’ll find lodges and adventure playgrounds where you can go zip-lining and trekking.
13. Colonised by the Spanish in the 16thcentury, Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose, is home to two-thirds of the country’s entire population. In total, 4 million people call the city home.
14. A cute way of saying you’re in love with someone in Costa Rica is to refer to your beau or belle as ‘mi media naranja’, or ‘the other half on my orange’.
15. Costa Rica’s star attraction, the Monteverde Cloud Forest has set of 8 treetop suspension bridges which skirt the jungle canopy.
16. ‘Guaro’ is the national firewater. It’s super-strong and is usually served as a ‘guaro sour’ – with sugar syrup, soda, basil, coriander and lime juice.
17. The literacy rate is really high – 96% in fact. In out-of-the-way rural areas, kids who can’t get to school are taught via radio lessons.
18. Go anywhere in Costa Rica and you’ll hear the phrase ‘pura vida’ bandied around. Translated it means ‘pure life’. Locals use it to say ‘hello’, ‘good bye’, ‘you’re welcome’ and ‘no worries’, amongst other things.
19. While the electric blue Morpho may be Costa Rica’s most famous butterfly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are 1,000 different species of butterfly in the country.
20. 1948 was a big year in Costa Rica’s history – that’s when it got rid of its army and began pouring state money into health, education and conservation projects instead.
21. Thomson Airways is the only airline in the UK to fly direct to Costa Rica, linking London Gatwick to Liberia. The inaugural flight, on the new Thomson Dreamliner, will be taking off in November 2015.
22. Unlike lots of Spanish-speaking countries, Costa Rican boys and girls don’t call themselves ‘chicos’ and ‘chicas’. Instead, they’re called ‘ticos’ (lads) and ‘ticas’ (gals).
23. The national beer is called ‘Imperial’. It’s often drunk as a ‘michelada’ – over ice with lime wedges and salt around the rim of the glass.
24. At 77 years old, Costa Ricans have one of the highest average life expectancies in the world. Perhaps that has something to do with Costa Rica being named the ‘happiest country’ in the world?
25. When you raise a glass to say cheers, be sure to look the people you’re with directly in the eye. If you don’t, Costa Ricans believe you’ll be cursed with 7 years of bad… well, you probably get the picture. You’ve been warned!