Monday, October 12, 2009

Costa Rica: Etiquette

The etiquette in Costa Rica is fairly easy to remember as the country is very laid back, warm and welcoming. In fact, it is said to be the most punctual of all Central American countries as well as the least physical country in terms of greeting one another compared to other Latin countries.

Embrace is not typically done in Costa Rica. Men shake hands with other men as a greeting and women pat each other on the arm or lightly kiss on the cheek as a greeting. The country is extremely warm and welcoming. Expect many people to wave hello and smile, but don’t expect a big hug.

The Costa Ricans are flexible with time; however, they tend to actually be the most punctual of all the Central American countries. It is acceptable to be late for social gatherings or a doctor appointment, however, it is considered rude to be a late for a business meeting. Due to the short midday break hours, everyone must be on time for business meetings and lunches.

Titles are important in this country and should be used if you know a person’s title. Titles are usually based on profession and degree, for example, Doctor or Professor for a teacher. If you do not know someone’s title or they do not have one, it is acceptable to use Mr., Mrs. and Miss.

Topics of conversation can actually range from good topics to bad topics. Topics of conversation that are usually bad topics involved religion and anything related to personal criticism. Good topics of conversation involve questions about children and family, history, art and politics.

Other things to keep in mind when traveling to Costa Rica:

  • Women drinking liquor is considered impolite.
  • Calla Lilies are associated with funerals.
  • Making a fist with the thumb sticking out in the middle is considered offensive.
  • The fashion is typical of fashion seen in the U.S. and Europe. Costa Ricans have a good, clean sense of fashion.

Overall, travelers have not generally experienced issues fitting in and following the Costa Rica etiquette.

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