The Culture of Costa Rica
The culture of Costa Rica incorporates many people’s customs including indigenous peoples, the Spanish founders, former black slaves and the many “white” or European settlers. Officially called the Republic of Costa Rica, it is the longest standing democracy in South America. Costa Rica proclaimed itself sovereign in 1838, separating itself from the rest of Latin America and its former Spanish colonizers. Since then, in contrast to the neighboring Latin American countries, it has achieved a relatively peaceful and stable existence, having disbanded the army 1949 and becoming a full democracy in 1950. It has also consistently been among the top Latin American countries in the Human Development Index (HDI), which is an index of "potential" human development. Costa Rica was ranked 62nd in the world in 2012. The culmination of history and peaceful co-existence permits Costa Rica to enjoy many rich cultural traditions
During the Spanish colonial period, which began in the 1500s, the region’s lack of a significant indigenous population for slave labor and significant recourses to plunder, left Costa Rica relatively overlooked. Many believe that these idiosyncrasies set the stage for Costa Rica's development as a more egalitarian society. In the 1800’s, the economy began to develop around agriculture. In recent years, in addition to agriculture, high tech and in particular Eco tourism are significant drivers of the economy.
Spanish is the native tongue of Costa Rica, followed by English, followed by German, French, Italian, and Chinese. As well, there is a dialect called Maketelyu, more of a Creole found along the Atlantic side of the country. Only 2% (or less) of the population is indigenous (Native Americans). The faces of the people are of mixed races with the majority considered “white”. There are many African mullatos, mixed black Africans, Europeans, Asians and some Chinese (since 1873). Over the centuries many people migrating along the isthmus between South and North America settled in Costa Rica and in modern times, many travelers who come for a visit fall in love with the land and choose to become residents.
Religion in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the few remaining democracies that officially tie itself to Roman Catholic Church. However all religions are freely practiced. Other practicing religions include Evangelical Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Protestants, and to a lesser extent Judaism, Adventist’s and Islam.
Cities and town typically have a main square in the center with a church in the middle; and many of the citizens are very religious. The names of towns in the Costa Rica are often prefixed by ‘San’ or ‘Santa’, a tribute to their religious links, as they translate “God bless’ or ‘If God Wishes It’, Between the airport and the Blue River Resort and Hot Springs the major urban center is Liberia, Guancaste which has . The Church of La Ermita La Agonia.. The building is of an adobe construction dating from 1825 and a significant point of interest. Like most churches in Costa Rica it also faces west.
Most marriages are performed in the Church and the couple must be Roman Catholic. The other alternative is to have a ceremony performed by, or administrated over by a lawyer. A married woman must wait for a minimum of 300 days after her divorce before she is eligible for remarriage (legally). Blue River Resort & Hot Springs has a special tent used for weddings. For a Costa Rican ‘dream wedding’, consult our own Randy Gritz of ‘Celebrations Costa Rica’. Randy has over 200 successful engagements to her credit. From organizing the location, designing and planning the functions, the legal requirements and other packaged plans.
For honeymooners and those wanting a romantic get-away, look at the Blue River Resorts- Honey Moon Specials; All packages are customizable to your liking.
Gay Tourism in Costa Rica
Gays and lesbians have earned a reputation for being well mannered and polite. The Costa Rican people have welcomed gays and lesbians warmly because of their behavior when visiting the country.
In July, 2013 the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly, voted to amend the old ‘Law of Young People’ which governs marriage laws. The law had previously recognized marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The legislation now gives all persons “the right to recognition without discrimination contrary to human dignity”.
Most vacation destinations in Costa Rica respect the rights of individuals to enjoy the country and all its facilities, without prejudice, but clearly displaying decency and decorum at all times. Public displays of ‘intense affection’ by persons in public are always discouraged.
Despite the strength of the Catholic Church, there has been a steady growth of gay and lesbian tourism since 2010. The religions have turned a blind eye to this ‘partner-preference’.
- Traditional greetings are the same here, ‘Hello’ is commonly used; a smile and a handshake are often exchanged. Men do not kiss men in Cost Rica, instead, a firm handshake and occasionally the ‘one-armed’ hug.
- Children learn to be tolerant and peaceful from an early age.
- Both adults and children alike, instead of saying ‘No’, they say ‘Could be’ (‘puede ser’) or ‘Maybe’ (‘tal vez’). No one here likes to disappoint.
- Some societies organize angry protests to deliver a message. Not in Costa Rica, the typical protester joins an organized march; a non-violent protest to support a cause.
- People in rural areas tend to be more ‘set in their old ways’ than persons in the heavily tourist-trafficked cities.
- Women now earn similar wages to their husbands in the workforce; the President, Laura Chinchilla is expanding the role and number of women in the work force.
- Many persons live at home until they are married or otherwise living together outside of marriage (that is gaining popularity). The incidences of a member of the older generation living in the home are many and they add to the rich cultural development of children.
- A couple may hire a ‘housekeeper’ to assist a working family at home, but the duties of the ‘Nanny’ remain the job of grandparents or other relatives.
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