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Costa Rica’s official language is Spanish. The country is dominantly Roman Catholic, but while 70% of the population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, only about 44% actually practice the religion. Another 13% of the population belong to various Protestant churches, while about 11% have no religious affiliation. Education is considered to be important by most Costa Ricans, with high literacy rates. Costa Rican calypso music is popular though foreign rock and pop music are also popular among the youth. Other genres of music popular to all ages is salsa, cumbia and merengue. Soccer is the country’s most popular sport. Most Costa Rican meals are based around rice and black beans. One popular dish is gallo pinto, which is rice and beans mixed with bell peppers and onions. Lunch meals are usually accompanied by a salad and meat (carne asada, chicken, etc), and it is not unusual for tortillas to accompany a meal. Fresh vegetables, corn, plantains, and bananas are also regularly eaten.
Costa Rica has a total church membership of over 41,000 people. There is one mission in the country with over 73 congregations.
Missionaries first entered Costa Rica in July of 1946 and the first conference of the church was held in June of 1950. The first branch was organized on August 25, 1950. The Costa Rica mission was officially organized on June 20, 1974.
Costa Rica has one temple located in the Heredia Province, about 40 miles from San Jose, and was dedicated on June 4, 2000 and was the second temple built in Central America.
Costa Rican food is mild and contains many fresh fruits and vegetables. Most meals have a base of rice and black beans.
Fresh vegetables are a main ingredient in most dishes and members of the squash family make their way into a lot of meals. Potatoes, onions and sweet red peppers are also common in Costa Rican cooking.
The food in Costa Rica is not usually spicy, but some foods can include habanero peppers. Corn tortillas and white cheese are also staple foods in Costa Rican cuisine.
Plantains, a member of the banana family, can be found in a variety of foods. They are often fried in oil, baked in sugar or put in soups.
Most travel time by missionaries is spent walking. Buses are common in Costa Rica and a good way to get around in the big cities. There are also trains to make transportation simple between cities.
The biggest safety concern is petty theft, especially in the San José metropolitan area. Missionaries can avoid this by carrying wallets in a pocket with a button and being mindful of belongings at all times.
Costa Ricans are comfortable standing close to one another while talking and it is not unusual to stand only a foot or two from someone while holding a conversation. The people also appreciate good eye contact.
In most social situations, you can expect people to arrive 10 to 15 minutes late, but some groups may be 20 to 30 minutes late. Some people consider tardiness acceptable, while others consider it rude.
Costa Rica has a tropical climate year round, but the seasons are defined by the amount of rainfall during any given point of the year. The dry season is known as the summer to the residents and the wet season is known as the winter. The winter usually lasts from May to November.
Because of the hot and humid nature of the country, it is wise to bring lightweight clothes that will dry easily from rain and sweat. It is also important to bring good rain gear to shield from the elements (i.e. rain jackets, rain boots, umbrellas, etc.)
A good over-the-shoulder bag is essential to carrying belongings and quality shoes are important for large amounts of walking.
Apartado Postal 249-2010
Zapote, San Jose
Costa Rica, Centro America
**Did you serve in the Costa Rica San Jose Mission Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**