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What Are the Languages Spoken in Costa Rica?

Manuel Antonio Spanish School logoBy Rebecca Fox

Although Spanish, or Castellano, is the official language of Costa Rica, you can find other living languages spoken here on a daily basis. Before Spanish conquerors arrived in the early 16th century, a great variety of different languages were spoken by the indigenous population.

Indigenous communities in the Northern province of Guanacaste spoke languages derived from the Nahuatl language family and were strongly influenced by Aztec culture. The Southern inhabitants used languages from the Chibcha language family, and are thought to have developed these languages after they migrated to Central America from the areas that are now Colombia and Venezuela. There are five different pre-Columbian languages that have survived to the modern day.

  • Maléku or Guatuso is spoken by around 600 people across three towns in the province of Alajuela.
  • Cabécar is the indigenous language with the most native speakers in the country, approximately 10,000. Speakers of Cabécar reside mainly in the indigenous reserves of the Talamanca mountain range.
  • Bribri is the only indigenous language currently taught at university level in Costa Rica and boasts around 6,000 native speakers.
  • Ngäbe or Guaymi is spoken by more than 100,000 people on both sides of the Costa Rica-Panama border, with most speakers residing in Panama.
  • Bokotá is the dialect of Buglere spoken in Costa Rica. Buglere is spoken in the same border regions as Ngäbe and the two languages are closely related.

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The Most Popular Attractions in Manuel Antonio and Their Low-Key Alternatives

Manuel Antonio Spanish School logoBy Anousha Al-Masud

Manuel Antonio is a popular destination for a reason; the diverse wildlife, incredible beaches, and adrenaline-filled adventures are hard to beat. With so much on offer, during high season the hottest spots can get a little overcrowded. Luckily, there are still plenty of hidden gems left to discover here. We recommend some of our favorite off-the-beaten-track alternatives to the most popular attractions.

Rainmaker suspended bridge

Rainmaker suspended bridge

Manuel Antonio National Park vs. Rainmaker

White sandy beaches and the chance to catch sight of a sloth or capuchin monkey amongst the tropical foliage of the national park attract crowds of wildlife lovers every day. A lesser-known option is the Rainmaker Conservation Project located in Parrita. Take your time to enjoy spectacular views of the cloud forest from hanging bridges, and take a dip in the naturally formed pools and waterfalls. Early morning bird watching tours and night tours are available for the die-hard nature enthusiasts. After your hike, you can grab a beer from Perro Vida, the on-site microbrewery.

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