Costa Rica is a country of spectacular beauty! The diversity within this tropical paradise is simply incredible. The landscape is comprised of rainforests, towering cloud forest covered mountains and active volcanoes. The diversity also extends to the east and west coasts which border the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean.
Many of Costa Rica’s unique features can be attributed to the country’s location near the Equator. The geographic coordinates are approximately 10 degrees North and 84 degrees West. The country is also located within the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is known for its ever shifting tectonic plates and volcanic activity. Costa Rica is bordered to the North by Nicaragua, to the South by Panama, to the West by the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea to the East.
Costa Rica is a country with a rich and storied history. In 1502, Christopher Columbus became the first explorer of European descent to step foot on the jungle lined coasts of the Caribbean. He was warmly greeted by a tribe of indigenous people bearing gold bracelets and necklaces. It is estimated that tribes such as this have inhabited Costa Rica for approximately 10,000 years. In 1524 Spanish conquistadors invaded Costa Rica bringing guns and small pox with them. The indigenous population quickly diminished and the remaining inhabitants were turned into slaves. In time Spain claimed Costa Rica as a province, though the settling was slow due to the unforgiving terrain and tropical environment. The country gained its freedom from Spain in 1821, later becoming a Republic in 1848. Costa Rica has been led by a democratic government since 1882.
In 1948 Costa Rica dismembered its military and has not had an army since. This is indicative of the culture, as Costa Ricans, who refer to themselves as Ticos, are known for their peaceful and polite manner. Although many Ticos work as farmers or in the travel industry, as these are the primary sources of income in this small country, the main exporting goods include high end technology, software outsourcing, and remote customer service for the international market.
In recent years Costa Rica has experienced an explosion in Ecotourism. Tourists come from all across the world to experience the rich biodiversity and eco-adventure activities that are available in most popular destinations. Many come to simply enjoy the tropical sun on the beautiful beaches.
Costa Rica’s highest rated attraction is Arenal Volcano, which is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, showing its immense power by spewing lava every 5 – 15 minutes. La Fortuna, which is the closest town to the impressive volcano, is considered to be the Adventure Capital of Central America. Tourists in this area can experience everything from the thrill of whitewater rafting through class 3 & 4 rapids to relaxing and bathing in the natural geo-thermally heated hot springs.
Monteverde, another tourist favorite, is located some 2,500 meters high in the clouds of the Guanacaste mountain range. This was the birthplace of canopy exploration via zip line. Many come here to soar through the treetops on the high speed zip lines, while others come to observe exotic bird species such as the resplendent quetzal.
Many others visit Costa Rica for the white sand beaches and coastal rain forests. Manuel Antonio is the most popular beach destination and houses the national park as well. The beaches of Guanacaste offer visitors luxurious all-inclusive resorts for those just in need of a break and a little pampering. The southern zone of Costa Rica is referred to as the final frontier. Scientists from all over the world come to study the rich biodiversity and endangered species of Corcovado National Park and the Osa Peninsula.
Costa Rica has something to offer everyone; from authentic Costarican charm to beautiful beaches and breathtaking scenery. Adventure is waiting to be discovered!
Quick Facts ▲
- Population: 4.200.000
- Languages: Spanish (official) / English
- Land Area: 51,060 sq km (19,714 sq miles)
- Capital: San Jose
- Time zone: GMT-6 (we don't follow Daylight Saving changes)
- Educational system is ranked highest in Latin America, according to the World Economic Forum’sGlobal Competitiveness Report 2008-2009
- Most politically stable country in Latin America according to the World Bank’s Study on Global Governance Indicators 2008.
- 4th place in the AT Kearney Global Services Location Index.
- Costa Rica gets about 99% of all its electrical energy from Clean Sources.
- Most popular expression in Costa Rica: Pura Vida! (it means Pure Life!)
- Life Expectancy: 79 years
- Literacy rate: 96.2%
- Education Expenditures: Minimum fixed by law at 7% of GDP