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About Costa Rica

Costa Rica Location Costa Rica is bordered to the north by Nicaragua, the south by Panama, the East by the Caribbean Sea and to the west by the Pacific Ocean.
costa rica beaches

 

 

Costa Rica is a small country, irregular in shape and less than 20,000 square miles in size.  At its narrowest point, just 75 miles separate the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean.  From North to South the country is just 180 miles long.  If you decide on taking your vacations to Costa Rica you should know that because o its dimension you can actually visit both seas in less than 6 hours.

Geography

The great thing about Costa Rica travel deals is that because the geography found you can visit the mountainous ridge that runs from the northwest to the southeast corner of Costa Rica, made up of four volcanic mountain ranges (the Central, Guanacaste, Tilarán, and Talamanca) separated by low passes and valleys and rise progressively higher towards the southern two-thirds of the country.  South of the Central Range lies the Meseta Central (Central Plateau) - the heartland of Costa Rica and home to 60% of the population in the four principal cities (San Jose, Cartago, Heredia and Alajuela).  Very important Costa Rica information is its comfortable climate and the fact that you can be impressed with amazing Costa Rica beaches and miles of gorgeous rainforests all in the same day.  In the Northwest on the Nicoya Peninsula, people enjoying a Costa Rica family vacation can explore miles of sandy, pristine beaches, while the Caribbean is known for its lush rain forests, palm-lined beaches and world-class sport fishing vacations in Costa Rica.  Geographically, the many varied areas of Costa Rica provide a tremendous diversity of habitats and beautiful tropical scenery.

 

irazu volcano costa rica

 

 

History

Costa Rica was visited by Christopher Columbus in September, 1502, on his fourth voyage to the Americas.  He claimed the region for himself and his descendants, believing that the land was filled with vast deposits of precious metals.  Costa Rica never yielded much gold or silver, but its natural beauty and perfect climate are finally producing some of the richness Columbus had hoped for.

The colonial period lasted from 1502-1821.  On September 15, 1821, Costa Rica declared its independence from Spain, forming part of the Central American Federation.  In 1848, Costa Rica proclaimed itself a free and independent Republic.  It has since enjoyed relative prosperity and political stability, including more than a century of continuous democratic rule.

Costa Rica Biodiversity

Covering only 0.01 percent of the Earth´s landmass, Costa Rica is believed to host approximately 5 percent of its biodiversity.  People who have experienced vacations to Costa Rica must have liked it very much, many return again and again to explore the variety of habitats:  Costa Rica rain forests, dry forest, cloud forest, oak forest, mountains, and wetland, mangrove, and other aquatic habitats.  Over 13.000 plant species can be found, including 1,300 varieties of orchids like the La Guaria Morada, the national flower which usually blooms in March.  More than 850 species of birds, 209 mammal species, 220 species of reptiles, and 163 species of amphibians have been identified.  Costa Rica’s fabulous fauna includes the jaguar, puma, and agouti, the leatherback & green turtle, three species of monkey, the American crocodile, caiman and the two & three-toed sloth, just to name a few.

canopy tour costa rica

 

 

 

Costa Rica Natural Parks and Reserves

In 1977 the people of Costa Rica formed a national park system that has won worldwide admiration.  The Costa Rica National Parks and Wildlife Refuges are carefully managed by the MINAE (Ministerio de Ambiental y Energia) who oversee and manage the public Costa Rica lands.  These conservation areas are known as the Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion, or SINAC.

25 National Parks with an area of 623.771 that is the 12,23% of the  Total Territory
8 Biological Reserves with an area of 21.674 that is the 0,42% of the  Total Territory
32 Protected Zones with an area of 155.817 that is the 3,06% of the  Total Territory
11 Forest Reserves with an area of 227.834 that is the 4,47%  of the  Total Territory
58 Wildlife Refuges with an area of 180.035 that is the 3,53% of the  Total Territory
15 Wetlands / Mangroves with an area of 77.869 that is the 1,53% of the  Total Territory
12 Other Categories  with an area of 17.306 that is the 0,34% of the  Total Territory

Total 1.304.306 of Protected areas that is the 25,58% of the  Total Territory  (5.099.873 ha)

Costa Rica Weather

The weather in Costa Rica varies depending upon elevation and location.
"The coastal plains are warm and tropical.  Mountainous regions are much cooler and the Central Plateau has a spring-like climate year-round, with little variation in temperature from month to month (the average daily temperature is 75 F or 25 C).  December through April is the dry season, when rain is quite uncommon.  May through November is considered the rainy, or "green", season, although mornings are usually quite sunny, with most of the rain falling in afternoon showers.  Basically, cheap Costa Rica vacations can be enjoyed all throughout the year.

 

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Government

Costa Rica is a free, democratic and independent republic.  The government is comprised of three branches:  Legislative (Unicameral), Executive (President and 2 Vice Presidents) and Judicial.  The presidential term is 4 years and a former President can run for a re election only after a period of time corresponding to the duration of two presidential mandates.  In 1949, Costa Rica abolished a standing army.

Costa Rica Economy

Economic development in Costa Rica is among the highest in the Western Hemisphere. Costa Rica is proud to be an agricultural country with exports such as coffee, bananas, cocoa, sugar, lumber and wood products and beef.  The government is actively attracting foreign investments that are beneficial to both the investor and the Costa Rica itself. Recently, tourism became the country´s largest source of income.

Population

Costa Rica currently has a population of 4 million inhabitants, predominantly of European (Spanish) origin.  Indigenous inhabitants account for less than 2% of the total population.  With over 90% literacy, Costa Rica has one of the most educated societies in the Americas.

Language

The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish, although English is widely spoken.

Religion

The constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Costa Rica and over 80% of the population considers itself Roman Catholic.

Shopping

Costa Rica features a wide range of stores offering merchandise made locally or imported from other Latin American countries.  Most prices are fixed, and bargaining is recommended only with street vendors or in market places where the best buys are handcrafted items made of wood or leather.  The national symbol of Costa Rica, hand painted replicas of ox carts in a variety of sizes and colors, are popular souvenirs; also replicas of Pre-Colombian gold artifacts.

Costa Rica Currency

The Colon is the national currency of Costa Rica; dollars can be exchanged at banks and hotels.  The exchange rate fluctuates in small increments daily.  Traveler's checks in dollars can be changed at any bank and at most Costa Rica hotels, provided a valid passport is used.

Costa Rica Food

A wide range of cuisine can be sampled in Costa Rica - from French to Chinese and local dishes as well.  With two oceans as sources, seafood in Costa Rica is a specialty.  Native dishes such as "gallos" (open-faced tortillas with beef, chicken or ham) and uniquely seasoned refried black beans are delicious and cheap.  In Costa Rica, guaro is the national liquor, while a variety of local rums, beers and flavored liquors are also available.

Tipping

A 10% service charge and 13% sales tax are always included in restaurants bills.  An additional 10% tip is suggested.  Taxi drivers do not expect a tip. Porters should receive $3.00 or $4.00 IN/OUT depending on hotel, and chambermaids $2.00 per room per day.

Electricity

Service is the same as in the U.S.: 110 volts; 60 cycles.  European items need an adapter.

Credit Cards

Major international credit cards (Master Card/Visa/AMEX) are accepted at most hotels, stores, restaurants and car rental agencies -- at smaller businesses be prepared to pay in local currency.

Costa Rica Transportation

We represent many of the Costa Rica rent a car companies, including the franchises of Budget and National, as well as a number of locally owned companies.  Foreign driver's licenses are valid for one month from date of entry into Costa Rica.  Inexpensive and rapid bus service is available to the majority of Costa Rica vacations spots and hundreds of small towns scattered throughout the country.  Minibuses with drivers can be hired.  Taxis are plentiful in San Jose.  Costa Rica domestic flights to different areas of are available as well.

All flights to Costa Rica arrive at San Jose's Juan Santamaría Airport, located ten miles from downtown or at Daniel Oduber International airport, which is closer to the Guanacaste beaches.  Most commercial airlines carry direct flights to Costa Rica on daily basis.

Costa Rica Medical Services

Quality Costa Rica medical services are available.  Many well-trained, competent doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists and specialists have offices in the principle cities.  Most have studied in the United States, Europe or Canada and speak English.  The capital city of San Jose has numerous modern and well-equipped hospitals and clinics.  There is also a growing market for Costa Rica cosmetic surgery.

Time

Costa Rica is one hour behind Eastern Standard Time (U.S.) and eight hours behind Central European Time.  Daylight savings time is not observed.

Clothing

Bring light clothing, a sweater, windbreaker, good walking shoes, sandals and a hat.  During the rainy season in Costa Rica, a raincoat and umbrella come in handy.

Drinking water

Modern processing facilities ensure pure drinking water, particularly in San José and the larger cities