Costa Rica stretches majestically from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea in just 200 miles. Bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, Costa Rica forms a natural bridge in Central America. A small country, comprising 51,100 sq. km (or 19,731 sq. mi.) of land plus 589,000 sq. km of territorial waters, Costa Rica has protected more than 25% of its national territory in a system of national parks, private reserves and wildlife refuges. It also possesses, despite its small size, 5% of the Earth’s biodiversity – one of the highest densities in the world. Apart from the rich Gold Coast and arid savannahs of Guanacaste in the Northern Pacific, Costa Rica is alive with exuberant tropical vegetation year-round. Its dense rainforests, misty cloud forests, extensive wetlands, and warm-water oceans abound with life.
Heritage and Culture Costa Rica‘s culture reflects a mix of many races. The main influence is European, which is seen in aspects such as our official language of Spanish, and the architecture of our churches and historic buildings. Indigenous cultures are very important in Costa Rica’s heritage; several groups keep their own protected lands throughout the country. Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is a completely different mix of Jamaican and Afro-Caribbean ancestry; you can hear Spanish, English and the Caribbean “patois” spoken in this region.
Costa Rica is a peaceful democracy, with no military for more than 60 years.
The People“Ticos”, as Costa Ricans are affectionately known, are famous for their hospitality. They are hard workers and most posses a high level of education. Ticos love to offer a smile encourage you to enjoy life. Even though the majority of Costa Rica‘s four million inhabitants are descendents of Spanish immigrants, many families come from different parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Costa Rica’s terrain widely varies between rugged mountains, flat plains and coasts. The Continental Divide runs like a spine north-to-south down the country’s interior. There are more than 100 volcanoes, several of which are very active. The highest point is Mt. Chirripo, which rises to 3,819 meters (12,526 ft) in the Chirripo National Park. Costa Rica has long coasts on the Caribbean and Pacific, and a wide range of rivers that attract specialists in kayaking and whitewater rafting from around the world.
Climate Costa Rica‘s climate is pleasant and tropical year-round. The hottest areas are the coasts. Temperatures in the mountainous areas are like “eternal springtime.” The average annual temperature is 31.7°C (89°F) on the coast and 16.7° C (62° F) in the interior areas. The rainy (or green) season is from May to November, and the dry (or summer) season lasts from December to April. The Caribbean Coast tends to get rain all year long.
Transportation It is easy to travel throughout Costa Rica. The public transportation is inexpensive, and nearly every city and town has a bus system. Taxis are common, and there are many rental car companies and transportation services. Because of the mountainous terrain, the fastest way to travel around the country is by air. There are two domestic airlines that offer daily flights to main tourist attractions.
Government The Republic of Costa Rica boasts a long-existing democracy with a strong constitution, and is one of the most stable countries in Central America. Costa Rica‘s system of government is very similar to that of the United States. There are three powers in the Republic: the Executive, with one president, two vice presidents and ministers; the Legislative, with the Legislative Assembly that seats 57 deputies elected by popular vote; and the Judicial, with civil, criminal, appeal and constitutional courts. The president and members of the Legislative Assembly are elected to four-year terms, and an ex-president can be re-elected (but not consecutively).
Costa Rica is composed of seven provinces: Alajuela, Cartago, Guancaste, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas, and San José.
Health and Education Costa Rica has a comprehensive, socialized health system. The country has achieved literacy and life expectancy rates similar to Western Europe and North America.
Costa Rica has an extensive social security system, and many hospitals, schools and universities around the country. The water is potable nearly anywhere in the country, although it is recommended to drink bottled water in rural areas. If a tourist gets sick while in Costa Rica, there are clinics and hospitals in San José and Liberia with first-class medical care.
Banking and MoneyThere are many state and private banks in Costa Rica, and all sizeable cities and towns have at least one branch. The official currency is the Colón. U.S. dollars are accepted in nearly all hotels and tourist places. Dollars can be changed in banks. Major credit cards are widely accepted.
Business Hours Government offices generally are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. Banks are usually open from 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. to between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. Stores are normally open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (generally in shopping centers). Some businesses close for an hour during lunch.
Economy Costa Rica‘s economy is based mainly on tourism, technology and agriculture (bananas, pineapple, coffee, sugarcane and rice). Coffee has historically been the most important source of income for the country, and Costa Rica produces one of the world‘s best coffees. In recent years, ornamental plant exportation has become a big business
Holidays Government offices and banks close on national holidays. Major holidays include: Christmas, New Year‘s Day, Holy Thursday and Good Friday during Easter Week, Labor Day on May 1, the Annexation of Guanacaste on July 25th, Independence Day on Sept. 15. The Caribbean city of Limon holds a colorful Carnival the week of October 12.
Language Costa Rica’s official language is Spanish. On the Caribbean Coast, Jamaican descendants speak a local version of English called “patois”. Many Costa Ricans understand and speak a bit of English.
Time Costa Rica is six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.
Emergencies Call 911 to report emergencies. Incidents that are not urgent can be reported in person at the nearest police station. In the event of a traffic accident, vehicles should not be moved until the Transit Police and investigator from the National Insurance Institute arrive on the scene.
Emergency telephone numbers:
• Emergencies: 911
• Fire Department: 118
• Transit Police. 2222-9330 / 2222-9245
• Police: 117
• Rural Police: 127
• Red Cross: 128
Airport telephone numbers:
• Juan Santamaría International Airport: 2437-2400
• Limón Airport: 7258-1379
• Tobías Bolaños Airport (Pavas): 2232-2820
• Daniel Oduber International Airport (Liberia): 2668-1010 / 2668-1032
Entrance Requirements The majority of foreigners are given a visa that allows them to remain on Costa Rican soil for 90 days. The visa is conferred only with a valid passport and proof of onward travel. Some countries need a visa to enter; check with the nearest Costa Rican Embassy for your country’s requirements.
FAQ’s About Costa Rica
The first thing that comes to our mind every time that plan a vacation, normally concern the most of the people. Here at Costa Rica Special Deals Online make a selected list of the most common and frequent answers and questions about a succesfull travel to Costa Rica.
What time of the year is the best to travel to Costa Rica?
You may visit Costa Rica any time of the year. There are two periods known as the “Green Season”, from May through October and so from December through April we have the “Gold Season” If you plan to travel around Christmas or Easter Week, you should make reservations in advance.
How many days do I need to enjoy Costa Rica in the best way?
Costa Rica offers a wide variety of activities to the visitor. A range of 7 to 15 days is the ideal, in order to enjoy the country’s attractions.
What do I have to pack for my trip to Costa Rica?
It is important to take into account that the weather conditions vary place to place, determinate by elevation and time of year.When packing consider: Light, practical clothing, especially short-sleeve shirts and fast-drying cotton pants.There is not like rigid “dressing code” to follow. Casual wearing is the most recommendable everywhere.It is suggested to take a waterproof garment as in some areas of the country it is rainy year round.
Among the main suggested items in you suitcase we recommend including:
• Sun block and insect repellent.
• Casual clothes for trips to the city.
• Cotton or light synthetic fabric shirts, short or long sleeve.
• Cotton or light synthetic fabric pants (jeans are not recommended as they don’t dry quickly).
• Shorts for hiking.
• Shoes: Lightweight hiking shoes or boots, sandals, tennis or running shoes.
• Socks: take an extra pair in case your feet get wet.
• Hat with visor for the rain and sun.
• Camera and film.
• An extra prescription for eyeglasses and medications (if applicable).
• Sweater or jacket.
• Swimming suit.
• Any medical prescription you might be taking at the time of your trip.
Is there a visa and passport required to enter Costa Rica?
Travelers with passports from the United States, Canada and most of European countries do not require a visa to enter. It is necessary to have a valid passport to enter the country.You may visit the official Costa Rica government web site where you will find available the list of countries or nationalities that do require a visa to enter the country. Click on this link:
Do I need any vaccinations before coming to Costa Rica?
No vaccine is needed to enter the country.
During my visit, can I pay with a credit card?
Major international credit cards are accepted in Costa Rica. ATMs are also available throughout the country.
How does tipping for services work?
Locally the restaurants include a 10% of services tax on their bills covering the tipping.This is the only exception. Bellboys, cab drivers, tour guides and chambermaids do not have a tip included on the service they provide.The amount of the tip is at your discretion.