Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Culture of Costa Rica
Costa Rica was the point where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures meet. The north of the country was the southernmost point of mayan influence when the Spanish conquistadores came in the 16th century. On the opposite, the center and south portions of the country had chibcha influences. Due to the practice of enslavement in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Atlantic coast of the country was populated with african slaves. In the meantime, thousands of Chinese families came to the country to work in the train railroads. So all of these influences have developed the extremely varied culture of Costa Rica.
Due to the pronunciation of some diminutive nouns, the costarricans have been long called Ticos by people from other countries who find funny the -ic- morphem [+plus gender morphem: "a" or "o"] at the end of certain nouns. This practice introduces in words a diminutive nuance, but also an affectionate one.
Maybe the only truly costarrican musical achievements are the rhythm known as tambito and the guanacastecan "punto", in fact, most music and the most representative folklore comes from the north of the country (the same portion of the territory which once had heavy mayan influence in it) and the Atlantic coast (the afro-caribbean culture). One of the most distinctive musical genres are the punto, such as the "Punto guanacasteco", from Guanacaste, and the "Punto sancarleņo", from San Carlos, Alajuela.
Some of the most important idiosyncratic elements of the costarrican people are the quedar bien and the choteo . Most ticos tend to be cynical about their government and the future of the country, so they use lots of irony when talking, this is known as the choteo . Most of them are politically and socially passive and avoid confrontations; this practice is the quedar bien . They would rather lie to someone's face rather than confront them and cause problems in order to stay within quedar bien . This is consistent with their demilitarized status due to the fact that people who do not seem to be a threat will often not be threatened.
Education is extremely valued in Costa Rica, as matter of fact, the elementary school is free and mandatory for all citizens, the high school is free also. There are four major public universities (including the most important university of Central America: the University of Costa Rica). There exist too a large variety of private education.
Catholicism is recognized as the official religion in Costa Rica; many ticos will claim they are Catholic, but very few actually follow the religion's doctrine wholeheartedly. There are also small groups who practice a mixture of Catholicism, occultism, and traditions of their african/Indian ancestry.
One thing to know about the Ticos is their free spirit and love for life. You will often hear the people greet or salute friends with the phrase "PURA VIDA" or "PURA VIDA MAE", which translate to Pure Life and Pure Life Dude. The people in Costa Rica live by this anthem. You'll find the Ticos don't sweat the small stuff, don't rush, and spend quality time with family. These are just a few things that encompass the anthem "pura vida" the best way to feel this is visit Costa Rica.
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