Despite begin a small country Costa Rica has had its share of famous people, unfortunately very few of them are known abroad

Many people who move or retire here and never learn anything about the country’s history or culture. Part of the problem is that they never learn the language, seldom read newspapers or have little interaction with Costa Ricans. They are virtually “strangers in a strange land.” Below is a short lesson about some of the country’s famous people.

Being famous in Costa Rica is far from being big movie or rock star. To be a celebrity in Costa Rica, an individual has to do something that brings pride to the nation. Below are some of the Costa Ricans who has distinguished because of their accomplishments:

oscar ariasOscar Arias Sánchez born September 13, 1940 is probably the most famous person in Costa Rican history. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end civil wars which were raging at the time in several other Central American countries. He accomplished this by meeting the Presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua to discuss the proposals for a peaceful solution to the region’s political disputes. He eventually became Costa Rica’s president in 1986 and was successfully elected to an unprecedented second term from 2006 to 2010. He is also a recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism.

franklin changFranklin Chang Díaz born on April 5, 1950 in San José, Costa Rica. Dr. Chang-Dìaz became an astronaut in August 1981. While undergoing astronaut training he was also involved in flight software checkout at the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), and participated in the early Space Station design studies. He has also been part of many missions into outer space including the Discovery expedition on 1998 and on the Endeavour on 2002. He has also received many prizes for his work as a researcher and for developing the plasm motor for spacecraft.

juan santamariaJuan Santamaría born August 29, 1831joined the army as a drummer. He became a hero in 1856, when, in the middle of the battle against William Walker and the filibusters, he took a torch and burned down the house where the enemy was hiding. Losing his life for his nation, he became one of the most famous people in Costa Rica. The country erected a large statue in the middle of a park in the City of Alajuela. Costa Ricans joke about his feat and say he had to literally be pushed into doing what he did. That is why ticos call him “El Empujado ” or “pushed one.”

wanchopePaulo César Wanchope Watson born July 31 1976 is a retired Costa Rican professional soccer player. As of February 2009, Wanchope is the second most prolific goalscorer in the history of Costa Rica’s national soccer team with 45 goals in 73 international matches. On 9 June 2006, he scored twice in the opening game of the 2006 World Cup, a 4–2 loss to Germany. His two goals made him the first Costa Rican to score twice in one World Cup match.

nery brenesNery Antonio Brenes Cárdenas born September 25, 1985 is a track and field star. He is one of Costa Rica’s up-and-coming athletes and reached the semi-finals at the 400 meter sprint in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He also won the gold medal at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships inIstanbul, setting a new national and championship record.

pollClaudia and Silvia Poll are two sisters of German descent who were born in Nicaragua and became Costa Rican citizens. They brought attention to Costa Rica by winning several Olympic medals in the swimming competition.


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