What Languages Are Spoken in Costa Rica?


If you’re considering living or going to in Costa Rica, you’re most likely thinking about finding out Spanish to boost your interaction abilities and pleasure. Which’s a terrific thing. To completely comprehend the nation and its culture, it’s crucial to look at the larger image.

Costa Rica is exceptionally varied– both culturally and linguistically– with prospering Jewish, Muslim, Quaker, Chinese, and German neighborhoods, a few of which are the biggest in Central America! There are even several ranges of English spoken. This fantastic range, together with a minimum of 6 native people residing in Costa Rica, makes it a remarkable location to check out for a prolonged stay or a brief journey.

If you’re excited to dive into every language Costa Rica needs to use, Rosetta Stone’s Unlimited Languages is the natural language finding out option. You’ll have life time access to immersive lessons, instant pronunciation feedback, and more to get you conversation-ready in 25 languages!

That’s amazing news for any world tourist. To limit which languages you wish to deal with initially, let’s have a look at the complete list of languages spoken in Costa Rica listed below.

What is the main language of Costa Rica?

Spanish is a main language of Costa Rica. Like the rest of Central America, Costa Rica was dominated and colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century, where, right after their arrival, Spanish ended up being the dominant language.

Costa Rica was a nest of Spain for almost 300 years, forming part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain which covered the area understood today as Mexico and beyond. The nation lastly acquired its self-reliance as part of Mexico’s triumph in the early 19th century.

By this time, Spanish was extremely widespread throughout Costa Rica, though lots of native languages continued. Some of these languages didn’t make it through, a terrific numerous of them are still spoken today. The other acknowledged languages of Costa Rica are Patois and Mekatelyu, which are, surprisingly, based upon the English language.

What makes Costa Rican Spanish so distinct?

By now you most likely currently get a sense of Costa Rica’s spiritual and linguistic variety, uncommon past, and engaging present. Costa Rica is understood for its tropical jungles and tasty coffee, however it likewise has 2 coasts and unthinkable biodiversity, in part due to being thefirst tropical country to reverse deforestation Pretty cool? What about the language that is so common throughout its shorelines and jungles?

Costa Rica’s main language of Spanish is spoken by about 5 million individuals, to which you may be inclined to state: ¡ Son muchas personalities! (” That’s a great deal of individuals!”). It shares lots of commonness with Latin American Spanish, however has specific subtleties that a qualified ear can determine, consisting of:

  • Soft “e”: Ticos, the label for Costa Ricans, tend to drop or soften the last e of words like coche (” automobile”).
  • Using voseo: A couple of words have somewhat various significances in Costa Rica, and grammatically speaking, Costa Ricans utilize the voseo type when speaking with loved ones. That indicates they state vos rather of for the word “you.”
  • Slang: Costa Rican Spanish has some quite enjoyable slang too, like ¿ al chile?, which could be straight equated as “to the chili pepper?” It in fact indicates “actually?”

Tranquilo, readers. These are small distinctions, and any understanding of basic Spanish will no doubt work in Costa Rica. Still, it’s enjoyable to find out everything about dialects to impress native speakers! Take a more detailed take a look at distinctively Costa Rican slang, grammar, and more with our thorough guide

How lots of languages are spoken in Costa Rica?

The existence of native languages and an increase of short-term locals make the response to this concern difficult. While there’s no set number, it’s safe to state that there are lots of languages spoken in Costa Rica, that includes European, Asian, and native languages.

Costa Rica is intent on commemorating and protecting its linguistic variety, having actually just recently devoted to the objective offostering a bilingual population by 2040 Integrated into the nation-wide curriculum, this program locations equivalent focus on English and a handful of other languages used by schools.

While this might look like a lofty objective, a lot of those residing in Costa Rica are currently multilingual!


European languages of Costa Rica

Including Spanish, Costa Rica boasts a minimum of 6 European languages. A lot of them have a specific Costa Rican noise– some with their own distinct vocabulary– while others are now dated dialects that are seldom spoken in other parts of the world.


By now it’s clear that Spanish is spoken by almost everybody in Costa Rica. It’s the main language! With 5 million speakers, it is the main language spoken by the majority of locals.


Due in part to migration of the 19th century, Costa Rica is home to the biggest neighborhood of Italian-speaking individuals in Central America. The Italian spoken there is somewhat various from its European equivalent: it’s been affected by the nation’s Spanish.


Like the Italian-speaking population, Costa Rica likewise has the biggest French-speaking population of Central America triggered by more current migration from France, Canada, and Haiti. Due to the fact that they are descendants of French immigrants from the 19th century, other individuals speak the language. French is likewise extensively spoken and promoted amongst the other residents whose native tongue is Spanish.


Costa Ricans are understood amongst the Central and Latin American nations for speaking English well, maybe since English is a required language in public school programs well-funded by the federal government. There are several residents from English-speaking nations too: about 10,000 Canadians, 20,000 Americans, and countless British select Costa Rica as their home. A Quaker neighborhood that utilizes the old type of “thou,” a pronoun that indicates “you,” can likewise be discovered here.


Due in part to migration of previous centuries, countless German-speaking folks from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland reside in Costa Rica. There’s even a Mennonite neighborhood that speaks Plautdietsch, a kind of Old German!

Asian languages of Costa Rica

After Costa Rica acquired its self-reliance in the 19th century, immigrants from all over the world landed in Costa Rica. Immigrants from Asia were no exception, and the long lasting impact of their languages and cultures continues today.


Chinese folks started immigrating to Costa Rica in the 19th century– and they continue to do so as much as today day. In the past, this was especially real of the city of Puntarenas. As in other Latin American nations like Mexico, Chinese employees showed up in the nation to deal with the railways and haciendas. Obviously, they brought with them the Mandarin and Cantonese languages, spoken today by some 45,000 Chinese locals in Costa Rica, making it among the biggest Chinese neighborhoods in Central America.


With its population of immigrants from Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and other Arab nations, Costa Rica likewise has– you thought it!– among the biggest Muslim neighborhoods in the Central American area, the majority of whom speak Arabic or utilize the language for liturgical functions.


Not to break the rhythm of variety, Costa Rica has among the biggest Jewish populations in Central America. Utilized in the Jewish liturgy, Hebrew is likewise spoken by the Israeli neighborhood that lives there. Historically, Jews have actually likewise moved to Costa Rica from Poland, Spain, and other European nations.


Indigenous languages of Costa Rica

While not all of Costa Rica’s native languages have actually endured, the nation currently has 6 living native tongues, all of which fall under the bigger linguistic umbrella of the Chibcha language household.


Cabécar, like its sibling language Bribri, noted below, is spoken in the Limón province and Talamanca range of mountains location. Unlike Bribri, Cabécar is the most extensively spoken native language of Costa Rica, and a couple countless its speakers are believed to be monolingual. There are 2 dialects, one northern and one southern. Regardless of its broad geographical usage, the Cabécar language remains in decrease.


Spoken in the location of the Talamanca range of mountains, Limón province, and southern Pacific, this language was maintained for rather a long time due to the remoteness of these areas. It is likewise spoken in parts of Colombia, Nicaragua, and Panama. Nowadays in Costa Rica, it is losing speakers due to migration and land loss. Less than 10,000 individuals speak it in the country. There is likewise a Bribri Sign Language.


Considered to be a threatened language spoken by less than 500 individuals, Maléku is spoken in the northern area of Costa Rica by the Guatusos. One intriguing reality about Maléku is the 2 methods it forms plurals: either by duplicating the noun two times or by utilizing a modifier to discuss the particular noun. After the Spaniards showed up, the Guatusos had little contact with them, considering that the people resided in separated conditions. Later, the majority of the population passed away throughout dispute with Nicaraguan rubber harvesters in the late 19th century.


This language, called “Guna” in its own area, is spoken in the Cartago Province in Central Costa Rica. Initially from Northern Colombia and parts of Panama, the Kuna, a considerable group at the time of the Spaniards’ arrival, moved west after dispute with the Spanish. Some individuals understand the language as Kuna Yala, which geographically speaking is the San Blas Islands. A flexible word in Kuna isnuedi It indicates “outstanding,” “great,” “thank you,” and “kindly”!


Ngäbere was previously described as Guaymí. Nowadays, we utilize Guaymí to speak about a group of 2 languages: Ngäbere-Buglé. Ngäbere is spoken by the Ngäbe individuals who moved in the 1950s to parts of southern Costa Rica. Today there have to do with 4,000 individuals residing on 5 various bookings in Costa Rica, however in Panama they comprise most of the native population. Ngäbere is equally intelligible with Buglé, and since it is above all a spoken language, its spelling has actually just been just recently standardized with the Spanish alphabet. If you wish to welcome somebody in Ngäbere, you state ñantörö, which indicates “hey there.”


In the past, Buglé was called Buglere. As we discussed, Buglé becomes part of the Guaymí household of languages spoken in Costa Rica and Panama, and in between the 2 nations, there have to do with 3,000 individuals who speak it. Buglé is thought about to be a tonal language, which indicates that grammatical elements of the language are communicated not simply by words however by the speaker’s pitch. The word for “water” in Buglé is chi Take an appearance at


if you desire to find out a couple of more words.

Other languages of Costa Rica

Jamaican Patois

This English-based language– with impacts from native, African, Asian, and European tongues– is spoken not simply in Jamaica however in a wide variety of locations all over the world, consisting of Costa Rica. Due to the fact that it is utilized in the province of Limón on the east coast, its Costa Rican dialect is called Limonese Creole. Jamaicans who showed up to deal with the plantations and railways presented the language to Costa Rica where it handled a regional version. Limonese Creole is likewise called Mekatelyu, originating from the expression “make I inform you.”

Explore Costa Rica’s country of languages

Costa Rica is a little nation of 2 coasts with a population of simply over 5 million individuals, yet its variety in languages, plant life, and wildlife is abundant beyond contrast. Hence its name: Costa Rica or “Rich Coast.” Understood for being a nation of high human advancement and joy, Costa Rica makes its put on the pail list!

Spanish is the apparent option for Costa Rican-bound tourists aiming to find out a language, however why stop there? Rosetta Stone has immersive, bite-sized lessons in 25 languages that can assist you get in touch with every neighborhood– and our Unlimited Languages provides you access to finding out for life.

Written by Rowena Galavitz

Rowena Galavitz is a Spanish translator, multilingual copy editor, and language and literature trainer with 3 master’s degrees who enjoys Spanish and all things Mexico.(*)


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