Costa Rica

PEOPLE AND CULTURE

Artesano click on the image to enlarge
Geographically Costa Rica is situated where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures met. Therefore, the north of the country was the southernmost point of Mayan influence and the central and southern portions of the country had Chibcha, South American influences. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the 16th century, most of the colonization and cities were established in the southern-central part of the country. These influences are still seen today, as the north-western part of the country's population (Guanacaste) are a generally darker skinned native-american-like population, while the central and southern parts of the country have lighter skinned, european-like factions.

Bueyeros click on the image to enlarge
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Atlantic coast of the country was populated with African slaves, during the construction of the railroads to the eastern coast. As a result, the eastern-side of the country (Limon) has a predominantly black African ancestry. During railroad construction, thousands of Chinese families also arrived in Costa Rica, but unlike the African population, they spread to most of the country. Even though they are widespread, there are few large concentrations other than San Jose and Limon. All of these influences have developed the extremely varied ethnicity of the country.

  1. Language
    Costa Ricans speak standard American Spanish click on the image to enlarge
    Costa Ricans speak standard American Spanish, but they, like most other Central American countries over the years, it has developed distinct patterns in its language .

    Costa Ricans usually utilize the respectful "Usted" form when addressing one another, this is somewhat formal and surprises some spanish-speaking foreigners when they arrive. Also, when they do use the familiar form, they often use the more polite vos rather than , which is used in most other Latin American countries.

    Despite not having a well-known accent, the manner of speaking tends to be slightly sing-song. It is considered to be very similar to the Colombian accent, and Costaricans and Colombians, recognize that each other’s speech is relatively similar. One of the unique features of Costarican speech is a distinctive sibilant pronunciation of words beginning with "Tr", like tren ("train"). Costaricans make a longer "tr" sound, which ends up sounding like "trshren". In most Central American countries, the pronunciation is a rough r.
  2. Religion
    Iglecia click on the image to enlarge
    Catholicism is recognized as the official religion in Costa Rica and even though many Costa Ricans claim they are Catholic, devotion varies among the population.

    A common practice among Latin American countries is the presence of a "Patrona". This represents a variation of the Virgin Mary and is unique for most countries. The "patrona" of Costa Rica is the "Virgen de los Angeles" also known as "La Negrita". The Virgen is one of the most important Catholic symbols because it is country specific and allows common people to identify with religion and feel a sense of direct contact with a saint to whom they can pray.

    Despite Catholicism being the official religion,Costa Rica is considered to be quite tolerant of other religions.Some of the religions in Costa Rica include Jehovah's Witness, Judaism, Islam, Hare Krishna and other smaller groups that practice traditions of their ancestry. Protestant forms of Christianity are common in Costa Rica, and make up 18% of Costa Rica's Christian population.
  3. General Attitude
    danza click on the image to enlarge
    Costa Ricans are normally very friendly, helpful, laid-back, unhurried, educated, hygienic, non-violent and environmentally aware people. They worry little about deadlines and arrive late to many appointments. For Costa Ricans, spending quality time with family and friends is paramount and most people prefer jobs that allow them free time.

    Two of the most important idiosyncratic elements of the Costa Rican people are choteo (mockery) and the quedar bien (staying on everybody's good side).

    Faced with complicated or difficult situations, they tend to be cynical and use irony and mockery to difuse them; this is known as the choteo. There is normally no harm intended; it is a way to laugh at situations that can sometimes hurt the sensitivities of others. Therefore, most Costa Ricans grow up accepting "choteo" as a normal part of life.

    Ticos also prefer to avoid conflicts, so they make an effort to stay on people's good side. Therefore, they are very resistant to change if it involves causing a problem; this is quedar bien. In order to quedar bien, Costa Ricans prefer to perpetuate unfair status quo, lie to someones face, or pass the problem to someone else if it involves causing trouble.
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