6 Things You Never Knew About Costa Rica

Sitting in the southern tail of North America lies a small country that believes in preserving nature and living life to the fullest. Their people are some of the longest living and happiest people on the planet. This place is Costa Rica, and here are six things that you never knew about this slice of heaven on Earth.

Sunset and Sunrise are at the Same Time All Year

Sunset in Costa Rica through palm trees
Credit: Malgorzata Drewniak/ Shutterstock

Tired of checking your weather app before heading out to take in the perfect sunset? In Costa Rica, you don’t have to! In all countries outside of the tropics, the sunset and sunrise times will change throughout the year depending on the angle of the sun. People enjoy long days in the summer but short ones in the winter.

Costa Rica is so close to the equator that the angle of the sun hardly changes between seasons. Because of this, sunset and sunrise happen at the same exact time every single day. People there enjoy 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime year-round. No need to eat dinner in the dark during the winter.

Most of Their Energy Comes From Renewable Sources

Beach covered in palm trees and rock in ocean
Credit: Simon Dannhauer/ Shutterstock

While most countries are still relying on fossil fuels to keep the power on, Costa Rica has left them all in the dust. In 2019, the government was proud to announce that 98.84% of the power for the entire country was being supplied by renewable means:

  • 67.5% hydropower
  • 17% wind power
  • 13.5% geothermal
  • 0.85% biomass and solar

The remaining 1.16% comes from traditional power plants, but they are kept around only as a backup.

There Is No Standing Army

Aerial view of Costa Rican beach
Credit: bertibenbanaste/ Unsplash

In 1948, most of the world was still reeling from World War II, and Costa Rica had just finished up one of the bloodiest civil wars in history. Instead of reinforcing their military like all the other countries, the government of the small country decided to go in the opposite direction and abolish the military altogether.

The money that would have been spent on the military was poured into education and healthcare. Today, Costa Rica has the highest literacy rate in Latin America and universal healthcare for all its residents. For more than 70 years, the people of Costa Rica have enjoyed peace without a military.

It Has One of the Highest Life Expectancies in the World

Older man surfing a white wave in Costa Rican waters
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There is a strong correlation between the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country and the life expectancy of the people living there. Costa Rica is an outlier. While it may not have the GDP of a larger country, mortality rates in Costa Rica are 18% lower than one of the richest countries in the world: the United States.

The average life expectancy in Costa Rica is 79.83 years. Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is one of only five “Blue Zones” in the world — a region in which residents regularly live past 100 years of age. People living here enjoy a relaxed, natural lifestyle, which is believed to be the cause of their longevity.

25% of the Country is Protected Land

Aerial view of Costa Rica
Credit: maxboettinger/ Unsplash

Costa Rica is very proud of its close relationship with nature. People from all over the world flock to its beautiful forests and pristine beaches — so many people, in fact, that tourism is their biggest industry. To conserve the many natural wonders within its borders, more than 25 percent of Costa Rican land is protected as nature parks and wildlife reserves. In all, there are 164 (and counting!) separate protected zones scattered throughout the country.

Its Biodiversity is Truly Vast

Volcano in Costa Rica surrounded by jungle
Credit: Esdelval/ Shutterstock

Having so much protected land means lots of space for plants and animals to thrive. While the small country accounts for only 0.03 percent of the world’s landmass, almost 6 percent of the world’s biodiversity can be found within its borders. Of the 500,000 different species of life that inhabit Costa Rica, around 70 percent of them are insects and more species are being discovered every day. As recently as October 2019, a paper was published about a new species of cricket discovered within the Costa Rican rainforest.

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