Costa Rica Demography and Culture

Costa Rica Demography and Culture

North America


The population of Costa Rica is 4,563,538 residents as of June 2011. [12] Of this population, 83.63% are white (including mestizos), 6.72% mulatto, 2.42% Amerindian, 2% Afro-descendant, 0.21% Chinese, 5.95% other or undeclared. The country’s population grows annually at the high rate of 1.4%. This is due to a moderately high birth rate, 18 per 1,000 and a fairly low mortality rate, 4.3 per 1,000.

Native populations

According to the 2011 Census, 2.41% of the population of Costa Rica declared themselves Amerindian, the indigenous autochthonous populations are around 104,000 native American or native residents of the national territory. They are divided into 9 ethnic groups and each one has a reserved territory:

  • Huetares, who live in Quitirrisí and Zapatón, in the Central Valley.
  • Chorotegas, North Pacific, mainly in Guaitil de Santa Cruz and Matambú.
  • Maléku (guatusos), in the North Zone, in the Frío river basin.
  • Bribri, South Atlantic.
  • Misquitos, North Atlantic.
  • Cabécar, Cordillera de Talamanca.
  • Ngöbe (called guaymíes), southeast of Costa Rica, on the border line with Panama.
  • Boruca and Térraba, South Pacific.


As a country located in Central America according to, Costa Rica is the Latin American country with the highest percentage of immigrants. [46] According to a study prepared by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses of Costa Rica, by 2012 9% of the country’s population was made up of immigrants. [47] In the country there is a population mainly of economic immigrants, especially from neighboring Nicaragua. There is also a percentage of political refugees who have requested asylum escaping persecution in other countries. Currently the largest immigrant communities are those from Nicaragua (74.5%), Colombia (4.3%), the United States (4.1%) and Panama (2.4%). [47]



Costa Rica has a National Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1940, which is one of the most recognized orchestras in America. Its current conductor is the American Carl St.Clair, since 2013. [51] This orchestra is at the base of a commendable cultural project born in the early seventies at the initiative of the then Minister of Culture, Guido Sáenz, which consisted of in the creation of the Youth Symphony Orchestra, for which the then President, José Figueres Ferrer, invited the American conductor, Gerald Brown, to the country. [52] Within the framework of classical music, it is also worth mentioning the National Symphonic Choir, the National Lyric Company and the General Directorate of Bands. An important center for high school music education is the Castella Conservatory, a unique secondary institution of its kind in Central America. The vast majority of musicians in the country have graduated from this conservatory since its foundation in 1953, among which we can mention Eddie Mora Bermúdez, Allen Torres, Francisco Piedra Vargas, among others. [52] Traditionally, tropical music occupies a privileged place in the tastes of Costa Ricans due to their love of dance. The rhythms of salsa, merengue and reggae are heard in many of the most unexpected corners of this country. Many groups have paraded through the national platforms, among them, Los Brillanticos, La Selección, Orquesta Explosión. It is interesting to note that there are musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica who also play either in the alternative scene, or in tropical music groups, with which the circle is complete, a sample of wide openness to all themes and styles. [53]


Poetry, essays and short stories are the most developed genres. [54] Costa Rican prose includes stories, novels, chronicles, and essays. Since its inception, literature has undergone constant evolution in accordance with the social, cultural and political changes that have influenced the nation. It has been a mirror that has reflected these transformations as a cultural tool for renewal, thereby contributing to the formation of national identity. So far no indigenous texts are known, so its origins always go back to colonial times. During this period, he limited himself to imitating European models, especially the Spanish ones. Before the 19th century It is not possible to speak of achievements in literary creation, and it is not until the end of it that the first cultural productions appear that would later become the “classics” of national literature. During the end of this period until 1900, Costumbrismo appears as a literary current that characterizes this time, represented by important authors and works such as: ¨El Hojarasca¨ (1894) by Ricardo Fernández Guardia; the ¨Chamarasca¨ (1898) by Carlos Gagini; the ¨Nochebuena¨ (1895) by Manuel González Zeledón and the ¨Moto¨ (1900) by Joaquín García Monje.


Costa Rican Creole cuisine evolves over time due to the influence of other cultures, with their products, their culinary techniques, their customs and the fusion of native cuisine with that of the old world. Its geographical location makes Costa Rica a corridor of products of the Americas: tomato, potato, corn, cocoa, to name a few, join the new foods from Europe and Asia such as pork, chicken, rice, and the banana. [55] Costa Rican Creole cuisine has been constituted with the contribution of three main cultural influences: Aboriginal, Spanish and African. [56] Heredia, Cartago and San José are characterized by the consumption of vegetables, tubers and mountain fish such as trout and tilapia. Other typical dishes are pot of meat (soup with meat, potatoes, carrots, bananas and yucca) and arroz con leche (rice cooked in milk with sugar, cinnamon and other ingredients).

Costa Rica Demography and Culture