The Switzerland of Central America, Costa Rica enjoys a stable democracy and a 95 percent literacy rate. The Costa Rican government upholds labor codes, social security and minimum wages, making for mostly happy and friendly citizens. Ticos are family and village-focused and uphold traditional values -- most Ticos do not leave home until they are married. Ninety percent of the population is Roman Catholic (the official religion)  and Ticos take their holidays seriously. Depending when you travel, you can partake in various parades and festivals. Easter is the most important holiday and the entire nation shuts down during Holy Week. Christmas time is another important time of year  -- most families celebrate by building and displaying elaborate nativity scenes.

If you're planning a trip to Costa Rica, here is a list of the national holidays to keep in mind:

January 01st New Year's Day
March/April Easter Week
April 11th Juan Santamaría Day
May 01st Labor Day
July 25th Annexation of Guanacaste
August 02nd Virgen de los Angeles Day
August 15th Mother's Day
September 15th Independence Day
December 25th Christmas Day

Generally, Ticos are humble and good natured. Violence is rare, although as in most cities, theft and crime in San Jose is prevalent, so don't leave your valuable in your rental car! 

Spanish is the official language, but most English-speaking tourists will be able to get by. Visit this page for a few helpful phrases: