Costa Rica is Central America's jewel. It's an oasis of calm among its turbulent neighbours and an ecotourism heaven, making
it one of the best places to experience the tropics with minimal impact. It's also mostly coastline, which means great surfing,
beaches galore and a climate built for laziness.
Costa Rica's enlightened approach to conservation has ensured that lush jungles are home to playful monkeys, languid sloths,
crocodiles, countless lizards, poison-dart frogs and a mind-boggling assortment of exotic birds, insects and butterflies.
Meanwhile, endangered sea turtles nest on both coasts and cloud forests protect elusive birds and jungle cats.
Thrill seekers can kayak up rivers, fly through forests on zip lines, paddle out into overhead surf, and dive with dolphins
and whales; all in the course of a normal day. Then again, if you have some serious chilling to do, you can always lounge
in a hammock and enjoy the pure life, or pura vida; a national expression that sums up the desire to live the best, most hassle-free
Full country name: Republic of Costa Rica
Area: 51,100 sq km
Population: 4.1 million
People: 96% Spanish descent, 2% African descent, 1% indigenous, 1% Chinese
Language: English, Spanish
Religion: 75% Roman Catholic, 14% Protestant
Government: democratic republic
Head of State: President Abel Pacheco de la Espriella
GDP: US$32 billion
GDP per capita: US$8,300
Annual Growth: 1%
Major Industries: Tourism, electronics, coffee, bananas, sugar, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials,
fertilizer, plastic products
For its close to the equator (8-12 degrees north), Costa Rica has a magnificent tropical climate characterized by low
temperature variations year-round.
Most parts are warm all over the year and temperatures is about 25°C/77°F around during the day, slightly higher on the
coast. Cooler temperatures at higher altitudes offer welcomed refreshment; especially in altitudes over 3000m (e.g. on the
top of some volcanoes) it is perceptibly cooler; but even here, temperatures are almost never below 10°C/50°F.
Costa Rica can be discovered all year round, however, one wants to be very sure about sunshine plans his trip between
mid December and the end of April.
The Cordillera de Guanacaste, the Cordillera de Tilarán, and the Cordillera de Talamanca split the country in two from
Northwest to Southeast. It works as a climatic borderline and exercises an essential influence on the climatic situation.
The pacific climate is considered to be tropical; temporary humid, the Atlantic climate on the other hand tropical; constantly
Instead of four season, there are only two: Dry Season and Rainy Season. Costa Ricans simply name them;summer and winter,
even though nobody imagines real winter. Winter here means just more rainfall. While the mornings in rainy season are usually
sunny, around noon clouds appear and tropical rainfalls start. Nevertheless, after one or more hours, it stops and sun comes
out again. The tropical soil gives off an intensive smell, birds continue twittering, and puddles quickly disappear; a veritable
The country's biodiversity attracts nature lovers from all over the world. The primary attraction for many visitors is
the 850 recorded bird species, which include the resplendent quetzal, indigo-capped hummingbirds, macaws and toucans. Costa
Rica's tropical forests have 1500 tree species and provide a variety of habitats for the country's fauna including four types
of monkey, sloths, armadillos, jaguars and tapirs. There are also a number of dazzling butterflies. National parks cover almost
12% of the country, and forest reserves and indigenous reservations boost the protected land area to 27%.
The Costa Rica government has been concentrating on its parks and wildlife for well over forty years now, and the dedication
has payed off in the quality and quantity of biological reserves and well-preserved ecosystems. The national park in the northwest
of the country, Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal, has at its center the perfectly conical (and iconical) 1633m (5356ft) Volcán
Arenal. The volcano has been exceptionally active since 1968, when huge explosions triggered lava flows. The degree of activity
varies from week to week; sometimes there is a spectacular display of flowing red-hot lava and incandescent rocks flying through
the air; at other times, the volcano is more placid and gently glows in the dark.
Two other environmental highlights include Rincón de la Vieja, northeast of Liberia in northwestern Costa Rica, and Parque
Nacional Corcovado. The former is a volcanic wonderland of cones, craters, lagoons, boiling mud pools, sulphur springs, hot
springs that visitors can bathe in, and a park that can be explored on foot or horse. Parque Nacional Corcovado, in the southwestern
corner of the Península de Osa in the south of the country, has long-distance hiking trails which offers visitors the chance
to spend several days walking through lowland tropical rain forest. Make sure you visit in the dry season, and keep your eyes
peeled for wildlife. There are shorter walks around Monteverde and in the coastal Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, south of
As Costa Rica is located close to the equator, sun rises between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. and sunset is between 5.30 p.m. and
6 p.m. all year round. Dawn and dusk are very short and we recommend considering this when planning your trip across Costa
Rica, especially when travelling by rental car. We do not recommend driving at night, due to sometimes very poor road conditions,
vehicles without lights or animals on the road.
Tips and Taxes
A 13% sales tax is charged on your bill for any every service, meal or drink purchased. An additional 10% service charge
will be added to your restaurant bills. Therefore, it is important to check before ordering if prices stated on the menu include
taxes and service charge. If tax and service charge are not included, you must add a 23% to the prices. If taxes and service
charge are included, this is usually clearly indicated on the menu. In case you have been satisfied with the restaurant service,
you may add a voluntary additional tip. This should be around 3-5 % of the bill. On all lodging bills, an additional 3% tourism
tax will be charged together with the sales tax. All taxes are subject to change.
Credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants, and shops all over the country. Though, in Nosara most small businesses
and those without phone line might not accept them. In smaller shops, you may be charged a 7% additional charge covering their
credit card commission. VISA and MASTERCARD are mostly accepted. We recommend carrying always a cash reserve. Please ask before
consuming, if credit cards were accepted.