From the cowboys of
Guanacaste Province to the indigenous tribes of the Caribbean lowlands,
an interesting variety of cultures exist throughout Costa Rica. The
country's mix of Mestizos (Spanish/AmerIndian), Spanish descendants,
indigenous Indians and Afro-Caribbeans with the more recent immigrations
of Asians, Europeans and North Americans create a unique blend of
Costa Ricans, or
Ticos as they call themselves, enjoy horse parades in nearly every town
and city, a tradition that originated on the dry plains and cattle
ranches of Guanacaste.
Costa Ricans are
renowned for their gregarious nature which is quite apparent during the
numerous fiestas, street fairs and carnivals celebrated throughout the
nation. These celebrations are an excellent insight to the culture and
cuisine of the country, as visitors can sample traditional food, enjoy
Latin music or watch a Costa Rican bullfight where the bull is never
Along the Atlantic
coast, Afro-Caribbean cultures are apparent in the reggae beats, Calypso
music and Patois spoken by the locals. While indigenous tribes now make
up less than 2% of the country’s population, Indian arts and handicrafts
are preserved in museums and are sold on reservation tours.
San Jose, located
in the Central Valley, became the
cultural hub of the country with the construction of the National
Theater in 1897. Within the past century, theater has become a favorite
cultural activity among locals. The National Theater hosts a variety of
operas, plays, ballet performances and orchestral symphonies.
Costa Rica is widely recognized for its
wildlife and beautiful landscapes. However, if travelers look beyond
ecotourism, cultural treasures can be found, whether in a reggae music
festival, a horse parade, or an opera.