The Netherlands and Costa where? But isn’t Costa Rica a jungle or an island? There is nothing similar between these two countries! Well, I think the Netherlands has more similar aspects with my home country, Costa Rica, than others, even compared to other Latin countries.

Of course, there are many more differences, but let’s concentrate only on the ones that make us similar (let’s be the difference of finding things that bring us together, instead of differences that set us apart!)

Maybe you plan to go to that exotic country located just in the belly button of the American continent one day — but, you wonder how crazy it would be because the country is so different to the Netherlands. Well, if you read this post you’ll find that there is a lot more in common between Costa Rica and the Netherlands than you think!

12Netherlands and Costa Rica: both are tiny countries

Comparison in size of Costa Rica and the Netherlands. Image: thetruesize.com

Costa Rica is slightly bigger than the Netherlands (51,100km² vs 41,543 km²). Nevertheless, the Dutch population is three times bigger than in Costa Rica. The reason behind that is because Costa Rica is full of mountains and national parks, so most of the people do not live there and almost all the population is concentrated in the central valley. On the other hand, in the Netherlands, all the population is nicely distributed throughout the space, while also concentrated in the cities.

11Netherlands and Costa Rica: football is important

Both countries know how to support their national team. Definitely some booze, colourful dress code, and weird dances are mandatory. Although the Costa Rican team has been in less World Cups than the NL team, both countries have maintained an overall high score.

READ MORE: Oranje Fever and Dutch Fans: 7 Tips to Survive an International Dutch Football Match

Maybe one day we will see each other in the final (I wish….), but for the moment Costa Rica is waiting for the revenge of the quarter finals of Brazil in 2014. Costa Rica lost the ticket to be in the semi-finals against the great orange team. But honestly, just to be in the quarterfinals for us was enough to celebrate.

10Netherlands and Costa Rica: it rains a lot

I think of the most common complaints about the Netherlands is the weather. Although in Costa Rica there is warmer weather, the rain is very common, especially in the rainy season, from May to December. But, you can experience rain even in February — so almost all year round, like in the Netherlands!

9Netherlands and Costa Rica: both countries names get confused

While the Netherlands is wrongly called Holland in many countries, Costa Rica is often confused with Puerto Rico — they’re not even the same country! Probably many of us are tired of telling the difference every time somebody says our country names wrong.

READ MORE: Rebranding the Netherlands: Goodbye ‘Holland’!

8Netherlands and Costa Rica: sarcasm

This was a big surprise for me. Not even in Italy and France are people sarcastic like the Dutch. The Dutch just don’t get offended easily over small jokes, and they laugh about themselves freely. In Costa Rica, we do this very often, almost every news item we turn into a joke and laugh about it. Dutch humour is very similar to the Costa Rican one.

7Netherlands and Costa Rica: dangerous animals when hiking

Not the same dangerous animals, but dangerous nonetheless. Image: Carmen Monge

You are kidding, right? Well, yes and no. I grew up hiking all around in Costa Rica. Since 25 percent of the country is a protected area, that means there are several trails to do. My parents took us every weekend to hike in different national parks.

In Costa Rica, you can see many types of animals, and you learn to respect every animal. It doesn’t matter if it is big or small, dangerous or safe. You know that even the cutest bird or smallest frog could be somehow dangerous.

READ MORE: Hiking in the Netherlands: 4 myths, busted.

Because I grew up with this knowledge, I have been cautious when hiking in the Netherlands. Apparently, a sheep could be very aggressive and there are more loslopende stier (stray bulls) than you might think. Of course in Costa Rica, you might find snakes, tapirs, or big cats, but probably they are more afraid of you than you of them (or maybe kinda the same).

6Netherlands and Costa Rica: beach lovers

costa rice and the netherlands beaches
A beach in the Netherlands: not bad. A beach in Costa Rica – wow. Image: Carmen Monge

Although the beaches are very different, in both countries you can reach the beach in less than two hours, and when the weather is good or when there are school holidays, you will see the beaches full of people. There is also some nature around the beach in both countries, in the Netherlands, you have the dunes, in Costa Rica, well you have the jungle.

5Netherlands and Costa Rica: family time

I think for both cultures family is very important. I was surprised when I asked my Dutch co-workers what they did on the weekend. Many of them had spent time with family, had coffee at grandma’s or gone shopping with their moms. You might think this is common, but no. In many countries, you just see your relatives on special occasions like weddings, Christmas or funerals.

Costa Ricans are very similar to the Netherlands in this aspect. On the weekends, we spend at least one day with the family that we don’t see the rest of the week. We tried to keep in touch with relatives the most we can.

Another reason why I think family is important in the Netherlands is for the main question the Dutch ask me about living away from home: Do you miss your family? The answer is always yes! and I think they understand that very well.

4Netherlands and Costa Rica: Grandma’s food

Homemade Dutch hutspot and homemade Costa Rican fish soup. Image: Carmen Monge

There is nothing that both cultures appreciated more than homemade traditional food. Sure you can find many recipes for appeltart, hutspot or pannenkoeken. But none of them is like grandmas. The same happen in Costa Rica, you can have Gallo Pinto, tortillas and fish soup in a restaurant but nothing will taste as good as in your grandparent’s house.

READ MORE: The Dutch food dream: 13 unmissable dishes in the Netherlands

3Netherlands and Costa Rica: both love sugar

Yeap, I was shocked by the traditional Dutch breakfast, hagelslag with toast. So much sugar early in the morning. Well, the Dutch have their sugar from very early in the morning and regular doses during the day. Costa Ricans have it in small doses all day in many types of presentations.

I know the traditional Costa Rica breakfast is the Gallo Pinto (Rice with bean) and eggs. But nowadays, few people have the time to have this dish every morning, so I grew up eating cereal (loaded with sugar) before school or bread with something (cream cheese, jam or eggs). Then in Costa Rica is very usual to have a dessert after every meal and something sweet in the afternoon with the coffee, or some ice cream when is hot. Sugar lovers? Both of us.

2Netherlands and Costa Rica: appreciating borrels & birritas

Costa Rican beers and Patacones (fried plantain) with all sorts of fillings. Image: Carmen Monge

In both cultures, we love to go for some beer with snacks after work, especially on Fridays. Instead of bitterballen, in Costa Rica you might find something called chifrijo or patacones (fried plantains, curious fact: you can find them in here in the Tokos!). Even some fried cheese could be in the Costa Rican borrel, so do not worry about not finding something less exotic.

1Netherlands and Costa Rica: pura vida and gezellig

It does not mean the same, but both are expressions are kinda representative of each country, and both have a positive connotation. Pura vida means “pure life”, and it is more like a way of living.

In Costa Rica, we use it for everything: to ask how someone is, as a response to say well, to say goodbye, to say that something is nice, or that we had a nice time. When somebody explained to me the meaning of gezellig the first association I made was with the Pura Vida, so it was easy for me to understand the true meaning, even if the use is different.


Well, that is it: my perception of the similarities between the two countries. If this convinces you enough to visit Costa Rica, hurry up there are direct flight from November to March and it is just perfect to escape winter!

Do you think your country has more similarities or differences with the Netherlands, or if one of these also applies to your country? We want to know — tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Canva

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