If you are from Costa Rica, perhaps a tourist has asked you this question:

“What is ‘Pura Vida’?”

We immediately smile because we know that this person, just a few hours after arriving in the country, has already heard ‘pura vida’ countless times. It is also repeated inexplicably, in very different contexts. 

We share that it is a way of feeling and appreciating life. We tell them, “It means hello, goodbye, how are you, I’m fine”. With 5 million people, each of us is an “expert” on the subject, but what does it mean to BE Pura Vida

A creative thinking center 

With this question emerges the Pura Vida Institute, a center of creative thought, a space to investigate our culture expressed through ‘pura vida’ and co-create a collective imaginary and a philosophy of life that unifies our desires and actions. 

At the Pura Vida Institute we believe that we are pure life through actions, individual and collective. It is present in the people who live and breathe its spirit, locals and foreigners, and put it into action. It ceases to be just an abstract phrase or idea if we can identify the pillars that identify it, the actions that determine it. It was from hundreds of conversations, readings, interviews, information analysis and a lot of introspection that we were able to identify 9 pillars that make up the Costa Rican pura vida: 

The Adventure

It is our way of being innovative, finding alternative ways to solve problems, the initiative to create new things and part of the experience we offer to those who visit us.

La Paz 

We have been a country without an army since 1949 and have chosen neutrality as our policy with respect to international conflicts. 

Love for Nature 

We managed to reverse the trend of deforestation through ‘green’ policies and today we have a high percentage of national territory protected in National Parks and Protected Areas (25%). Today we live together with several generations that enjoy and love this positive trend.


We were able to institutionalize solidarity in systems such as Health and Education, socializing the benefits so that they can be enjoyed by all people, especially the most vulnerable.


We have learned to face local and global challenges with an attitude and mentality of growth and vision. 


The Costa Rican character is associated with an optimistic outlook on life, in our collective imagination, Costa Rica is happy and this is also indicated by multiple international indexes in this regard.


In the most difficult moments we have managed to unite in the face of external enemies and internal problems.


It is most evident in our tourism industry, where we anticipate visitors’ needs to offer them high quality service with a friendly heart.


We live in a Catholic state, where more than 90% of the population is a believer, and once a year one of the largest mobilizations in Latin America is held to celebrate the Virgin of the Angels.

A philosophy of life

From a very young age in many tribes, children are taught the philosophy of life of their community, the principles and actions that determine their way of seeing and acting in life.  The 9 pillars that make up the pura vida are the basis to learn more about our culture, a tool that allows us to share its essence with visitors who accompany us on this journey and above all to teach our philosophy of life to future generations. 

“We are pure life through actions, individual and collective.” 
. The ‘pura vida’ is a component of our national identity which is constantly evolving.
. The Pura Vida Institute, a center for creative thinking, a space to investigate our culture expressed through ‘pura vida’. 
. We are pure life through actions, individual and collective.  

Felipe Castro TruqueFounder of The Pura Vida Institute

                                                                        [email protected]