Destination: visit Costa Rica
Costa Rica is in Central America. It is located between Nicaragua (to the north) and Panama (to the south), and between the Pacific Ocean (to the west) and the Caribbean Sea (to the east). Costa Rica has a surface of 51,100 square km, 23.4% of which is covered by national parks and protected areas. Although Costa Rica has only 0.03% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity.
There are three main mountain ranges that extend the whole length of the country: the Guanacaste Mountain Range, the Central Mountain Range, and the Talamanca Mountain Range. Costa Rica boasts at least 60 volcanoes, 5 of which are active.
The capital of Costa Rica is San Jose. Other main cities include Cartago, Dominical, Puerto Limon, and Quesada. The official language is Spanish and the most common second language is English. In tourist locations most people speak English and even the signs are written both in English and Spanish.
The official currency is the colon, but both Euros and US Dollars can be easily exchanged. The US Dollar is commonly accepted in most tourist locations.
Generally speaking Costa Rica has a tropical climate with an average yearly temperature of 22°C. Like every tropical country, Costa Rica has only two seasons: the rainy season that runs from May to December, and the dry season.
Different regions however have different microclimates. As the elevation increases, temperatures tend to decrease:
- In the tropical region the average temperature is 26°C;
- In the humid tropical region, the elevation is up to 1,100 meters in altitude, and the average temperature
is between 25° and 26°C;
- In the hot region, at an elevation above 1,500 meters in altitude, temperatures drop to between 14° and 18°C
- Finally, in the high cold region, with elevation of 3000 meters the temperature reaches 0°C.
Colombus arrived in Costa Rica in 1502. In 1563 colonists settled in Cartago, which remained a provincial capital of colonial Spain for almost two and a half centuries. Costa Rica declared its independence from Spain in 1821. The first democratic elections were held in 1899. Since then Costa Rica experienced only two brief periods of violence. In 1948 a new constitution was adopted and in 1949 Costa Rica constitutionally abolished its army.
Costa Rican cuisine is best described as healthy, flavorful, yet fairly mild, with high reliance on fresh fruits and vegetables.
La comida tipica, the backbone of the the Costa Rican cuisine is the gallo pinto, a dish made with black beans and rice. Casado (the name referring to the mattiage of its ingrediends) is the typical lunch in Costa Rica, consisting of rice and beans, meat or fish, always served with salad and fried plantain. The plantain has the appearance of a banana and can't be eaten raw. Once baked or fried however, it makes for a delicious snack.
Arroz is another typical dish of fried rice, usually served with chicken or shrimp.
Many of the fresh fruits found in Costa Rica, such as papaya, mango, pineapple,watermelon, cantaloupe, blackberries, lemon, guava, and passion fruit, are served as refrescos, a popular drink made with blended fruits and ice.
Costa Rica is practically synonim with ecotourism, thanks to its biodiversity. As previously mentioned 25% of its territory is protected by a system of conservation areas and national parks, so there are plenty of places to explore.
The Cahuita National Park is a rainforest with plenty of wildlife to see;
The Corcovado National Park is one of the most remote parks that has been described as the most biologically intense place on Earth;
The Cocos Island National Park is a jungle covered island located 300 miles off the coast of Costa Rica. It has 200 waterfalls and harbors some of the rarest species of birds and plants;
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations due to its beautiful beaches and rich wildlife;
The Barra Honda National Park is the only subterranean park where you can explore cave formations;
The Monteverde and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserves have picturesque cloud forests, hanging bridges, waterfalls, and lots of wildlife;
The Tortuguero National Park is a very humid coastal area, very famous for being a favorite place for sea turtles (like the Chelonia Mydas) to lay their eggs;
Other popular destinations include the Arenal Volcano, the Pacuare River and protected zone, and the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park.
The southern port town of Golfito is a popular duty free zone.
Playa Flamingo is famous for its white sand, while Mal Pais and Playa Grande are popular among surfers.
The national symbols of Costa Rica are the purple orchid, the Guanacaste tree and the Yiguirro (clay colored robin).
The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranked Costa Rica the world's "5th greener country" in 2012.
Since Costa Rica is located so close to the Equator, the sun rises and sets at about the same time all year.
Costa Ricans refer themselves as Ticos (males), and Ticas (females).
In Costa Rica there are more than 130 species of freshwater fish, 160 species of amphibians, 208 species of mammals, 220 species of reptiles, 850 species of birds, 1000 species of butterflies, 1200 varieties of orchids, 9000 species of plants, and 34000 species of insects.