International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property

Costa Rica

N.B.: General country data and external links have been provided by the Member State. * Uploaded: 01/2021

General Country data

The main cultural assets of Costa Rica

The long and rich history of cultural heritage assets and traditions is deeply linked to the identity of the nation. The country is famous worldwide for its philosophical approach to heritage and its refined aesthetic sense, as well as the amazing technical skills of practitioners of traditional crafts such as lacquer, silk, paper, metal, ceramics and building methods.

Costa Rica has a long history of heritage protection, especially natural heritage. State-run nature reserves occupy almost 25% of the national territory. The country is internationally recognized for this heritage, and ecological tourism is therefore an important source of work for a large part of the population. Furthermore, Costa Rica has a stable democracy, having abolished the army as early as 1948, and has redirected this budget to education and culture. Among its most important cultural legacies are archaeological collections from the pre-Columbian period, with pieces of ceramics, stone, jade and gold.

The legal framework on cultural heritage conservation

The intangible culture of Costa Rica is dynamic and integrated into daily life, with a clear lineage, specific methods of knowledge transfer, a depth of community involvement and distinct safeguarding measures. The legal protection of curators of important intangible cultural assets, also informally known as Living National Treasures, outlines the government's strategy to ensure the continuation of traditional craft techniques and the performing arts.

The Costa Rican legal framework offers certain protections to cultural property of the archaeological, documentary (archives) and historic buildings types. However, these laws require updating and rectification. The country still lacks protection and classification regimes for artistic heritage, history and certain types of monumental property. International conventions and charters on heritage have been ratified, but there are no technical standards for the local application of these conventions.

The cultural and natural sites on the World Heritage List

The artistic and cultural assets of Costa Rica are well represented on UNESCO's heritage lists, including cultural sites such as temples, castles, landscapes, natural sites; as well as the oral traditions, performing arts, festivals and rituals, restoration routes, craft skills and different forms of traditional knowledge.

Contacts and cross-pollination with the art of Costa Rica were very influential in many Western artistic movements of the late 19th and 20th centuries. These include Impressionism, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, the Arts and Crafts movement, the Modern movement and contemporary art. Many artists and architects have also participated in these movements, both within Costa Rica and abroad.

Costa Rica has five sites and traditions recognized by UNESCO, on the World Heritage List and the Intangible Heritage List:

  1. Parque Internacional La Amistad (since 1983) - World Natural Heritage Site
  2. Parque Nacional Isla del Coco (since 1997) - World Natural Heritage Site
  3. Área de Conservación de Guanacaste (since 1999) - World Natural Heritage Site
  4. La tradición del boyeo y las carretas (since 2005) - Intangible Cultural Heritage
  5. Asentamiento Cacicales precolombinos con esferas de piedra del Diquís (since 2014) - World Cultural Heritage

Adhesion to ICCROM

Costa Rica is a Member State of ICCROM since 11/10/2019


Mandates in ICCROM Council since 1958:

No mandates in ICCROM Council

ICCROM Staff since 1959: - None -

Involvement of Costa Rican Nationals

Activities in/with Costa Rica since 2002

Activities details

Activities details

  • 2010 - 1 Mission(s)

External links

Governmental Cultural Institutions

Museums and Cultural Heritage Institutions

* ICCROM reserves the right to moderate the content provided by Member States for country profiles to ensure that they remain within the scope of ICCROM’s mission and pertinent to cultural heritage. However, ICCROM does not take responsibility for the accuracy and validity of the content supplied. The ideas and opinions expressed are those of the Member States.