Art and Culture of Costa Rica

In the past, the arts and culture of Costa Rica had been rather poor with no distinctive cultural legacy to ignite a creative synthesis where the traditional and modern could possibly unite. With the European colonization, the culture and traditions of the indigenous people were greatly exploited. Nevertheless, with the recent cultural evolution, the arts and culture of Costa Rica has been largely influenced by Europeans.

In recent years, the new development in culture is sufficiently demonstrated by the introduction of an International Art Festival in the year 1992. It is an annual event which has attained a place amongst the arts festivals of the continent.

Visual Arts

Santa Ana and the neighboring Escazu on the southwest of San Jose has been home to many contemporary artists, who were awarded with the country's top cultural prizes. Among those artists were- Christina Fournier; the brothers Jorge, Manuel, Javier, and Carlos Mena; and Dinorah Bolandi who were from Escazu.

The young contemporary artists have expanded their creative visions and are now gaining international recognition for their diverse works.

There are several museums located throughout Costa Rica, which have preserved the various aspects of the culture and heritage of the country.

Performing Arts

Starting from the 1950s, the state offered extensive support for the arts and arts education in Costa Rica. The state also financed a National Symphony and Youth Orchestra, a major publishing house, dance and theater, troupes, and several museums. The performing arts are booming, and the National Symphony Orchestra has set a high standard for other musical troupes.

Music and Dance

Alongside the small yet vibrant classical music scenario in Costa Rica, there are several folk groups dedicated to Latin American "new song". These folk groups are also devoted to recording and performing the nation's vanishing tradition of Spanish-style peasant ballads, Caribbean calypso, and labor songs. There is a small but dedicated fan following who enjoy American- Brazilian and Cuban influenced jazz combos.

Since the 1970s, modern dance has gained popularity, which reflects partially a collapse of traditional inhibitions about display of physicality and the body.


Early literary figures in Costa Rica were mainly essayists and poets like Roberto Brenes Mesen and Joaquin Garcia Monge. The universal theme for writing in the 1930s and 40s was an appeal for social progress. Most notable early twentieth-century writers in Costa Rica were Carlos Luis Fallas, Joaquin Gutierrez, Fabian Dobles, and Luisa Gonzalez. Among the more recent novelists are Carmen Naranjo and Alfonso Chase and poet Jorge Debravo.


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