Next available trip: Summer 2015  
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Culture and Tico Life
Costa Rica’s natives, known as Ticos, are dynamic, educated and friendly, and will go out of their way to make visitors feel right at home. Half of Costa Rica’s population of four million lives in the Central Valley, an area which makes up just four percent of the entire country. Spanish is the native language, although other languages such as English, French, Italian, and German are frequently spoken, especially in tourist areas. , its strong democracy

Compared with other Latin American countries, living standards in Costa Rica are at an enviable level, with a 94 percent literacy rate and a per capita income that’s more than twice the regional average. Additionally, as a result of Costa Rica’s pluralistic and democratic society, its citizens have access to top-notch health care, free education and a stable social security system.

The unemployment rate has kept constant at six percent over the last few years, despite a large number of immigrants arriving from other Latin American countries. Four state-owned universities and over 40 private colleges produce a large number of educated young professionals every year. Costa Rica’s educated and professional workforce has attracted many high tech companies, including Intel, which has one of its largest facilities in the world here. Other Fortune 500 companies such as Procter & Gamble and Baxter Pharmaceuticals have operations centers in the country.

The Costa Rican culture shares the common characteristics of other Latin American cultures. While not heavily influenced by Mayan ancestors, like other Central American countries and Mexico, Costa Rica still possesses an interesting mestizo mix of the pre-Columbian cultures and European influence brought first by the Spanish Conquistadors and later by large waves of immigrants.

Towns on the Caribbean side are distinctly influenced by Afro-Caribbean cultures, with their noticeable rhythms, flavors and traditions. The Central Valley region has a strong American influence. Dress codes, while casual, tend to follow American fashion trends. From fast food restaurants to movies and television, there is a strong presence of U.S. culture that influences Tico life.

Guanacaste and the Pacific beaches are a mix of rural Costa Rican traditions with the culture of the many foreigners who come to retire on the beaches. In towns up and down the coast you will find an interesting blend of local families who have lived in the region for many generations, coexisting with foreigners who have come to retire or work in the booming tourism industry.

The northern region of San Carlos presents the more traditional Costa Rican culture, as it has not been affected by urban development or foreign immigration. This region still boasts one of the highest per capita incomes in the country, and is one of the most productive in terms of agriculture and agro-industrial products.

In general, Costa Ricans are extremely passionate about their political party and their soccer team. While the political landscape is changing drastically, and the two-party system virtually disappeared during the 2002 elections, the soccer landscape remains constant. A whopping 80 percent of the population rallies behind one of two major teams: Saprissa or Alajuela.
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The sexual exploitation of children and adolescents is a felony in Costa Rica and is punishable with jail time