Costa Rica is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. It has a population of around 4.5 million, of whom nearly a quarter live in the metropolitan area of the capital and largest city, San José.
A pioneer of ecotourism, Costa Rica draws many tourists to its extensive national parks and protected areas. In the 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, Costa Rica ranked 44th in the world and second among Latin American countries after Mexico. In the “natural resources” subindex, Costa Rica ranks sixth worldwide in the natural resources pillar, but 104th in terms of cultural resources. Costa Rica ranks third of sixty countries covered in the 2014 Global Green Economy Index. In the sustainable tourism category, Costa Rica is ranked first.
Costa Rican cuisine is a blend of Native American, Spanish, African and many other cuisine origins. Dishes such as the very traditional tamale and many others made of corn are the most representative of its indigenous inhabitants, and similar to other neighboring Mesoamerican countries. Spaniards brought many new ingredients to the country from other lands, especially spices and domestic animals. And later in the 19th century, the African flavor lent its presence with influence from other Caribbean mixed flavors. This is how Costa Rican cuisine today is very varied, with every new ethnic group who had recently become part of the country’s population influencing the country’s cuisine.