What language is spoken in Costa Rica?

The official national language of Costa Rica is Spanish and has been since the Spanish colonisation of the country in the 16th century, however, there are also five indigenous languages spoken in Costa Rica as part of the Chibcha language family; Cabecar language, Bribri language, Maleku language, Buglere language, and Guaymi language. 

As with other countries, Costa Rica has also become home to many immigrants over the years with each new language introduced only contributing to the country's rich and diverse identity and culture. This has seen the English language, as well as the French, Portuguese, and German languages, also being spoken by a percentage of the population. 

The indigenous population in Costa Rica 

Sadly, there used to be more indigenous languages spoken in Costa Rica but they have slowly disappeared over the years with fears that more could be nearing the same fate. In order to combat this and protect the country's indigenous diversity, the Costa Rican government, along with various world organisations such as UNESCO, have put policies and promises in place to help the promotion of indigenous languages. The Costa Rican government also continues to work with the indigenous population surrounding traditional ownership of land and the legal recognition of their rights and significant cultural artifacts. 

However, there is still a lot to be done to help out the indigenous community with many problems still facing the population today such as lack of access to basic healthcare, the standard of education compared to non-indigenous Costa Ricans, and several land disputes that may see indigenous farmers and ranchers lose their land due to oil and mining work. 

What are some Spanish phrases I should know before my trip?

Travelling internationally might seem a little daunting when you don't speak the language of the country you're visiting but simply learning a few common phrases or words is enough to give you some confidence when communicating with the locals. It'll also show your appreciation and respect for the country's culture and customs and will only add to your overall trip experience. 

We're not saying you have to spend hours and hours trying to learn Spanish but knowing how to say the below phrases/words will go a long way in helping you communicate effectively:

  • Good morning - Buenos días
  • Good afternoon - Buenas tardes 
  • How are you? - ¿Cómo está usted? (formal) 
  • What are you doing? - ¿Qué haces? 
  • Thank you - ¡Gracias! 
  • Please - Por favor

If you can only manage to get the basics learnt before your trip - don't worry. Costa Ricans are known to be friendly and welcoming people that will help you out with a translation or two if you're having trouble figuring out the language. They're also a proud community that's willing to share their country and culture with those who come to see it. 

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