Despite its small size, Costa Rica is home to nearly half a million species, making it one of the world’s most biodiverse countries. It has a richly varied landscape of mountains, volcanoes, tropical forests and idyllic black and white sanded beaches. The country is known for its progressive environmental policies and is the country with the highest proportion of protected areas in the world. But we won’t only take you to see its array of multicoloured wildlife – we’ll introduce you to its polite, family-orientated, peace-loving people too.
Languages: This entry provides a listing of languages spoken in each country and specifies any that are official national or regional languages. When data is available, the languages spoken in each country are broken down according to the percent of the total population speaking each language as a first language. For those countries without available data, languages are listed in rank order based on prevalence, starting with the most-spoken language.
For much of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the Arenal volcano terrorized the predominantly agricultural communities at its base with frequent belches of caustic smoke, ash, and lava. A major eruption in the late 1960s killed scores and seriously damaged local infrastructure, but things have quieted down significantly – the volcano hasn’t seen much activity since 2010.
The National Museum of Costa Rica is housed in the old Bellavista Fortress, which was built in 1917 and was used a military barracks. Located directly opposite the Legislative Assembly and next door to the Jade Museum in the city of San Jose, the museum documents and showcases the history and culture of Costa Rica and has an expansive collection of archaeological treasures from all over the country. Many of the items on display date back to pre-Columbian times (prior to the Spanish arrival in 1500AD) and more recent additions include a very good butterfly garden and insect exhibit. The museum is closed on Mondays and public holidays.
The active traveler to Costa Rica will have no shortage of trails and hikes from which to choose. 30 percent of the land is protected as national parks, preserves, and wildlife refuges, and each speckled with well-marked trails that lead to pristine beaches, primary rainforest, or bubbling volcanic foothills. An abundance of flora, fauna, and avifauna rewards travelers eager to discover the footpaths winding along the forest floor or sweeping through the treetops. The suspension bridges offer another form of active exploration and decorate the canopies around the diverse biospheres.
Tabacon, Baldi and Titoku are just a few places you can bathe in and enjoy the thermal waters. Baldi is best for kids, Tabacon is ideal for couples and Paraiso and Ecotermales are great for those who don’t want to be around a lot of people. If you’re visiting La Fortuna, going to the hot springs is a must! You can read more about the best hot springs in Arenal in this post.
Insect Protection: In rainforests and cloud forests year-round, and everywhere during the wet season, you’re likely to encounter nasty mosquitoes and other assorted biting insects. Though life-threatening tropical illnesses like malaria, dengue, and yellow fever aren’t super common here, zika is. Pregnant couples and those planning to become pregnant soon need to be fastidious about insect protection: repellent, tucked-in clothing, window screens. Remember the 3-ounce rule in carry-on baggage.
The Real InterContinental Hotel is located in the heart of San José's trendy Escazu area, adjacent to the Multiplaza, a large upscale shopping and entertainment complex. The hotel has three restaurants, two bars, gift shops, an outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi, a tennis court, a fitness center, and a full service spa and beauty salon. The hotel is fully air-conditioned. High speed internet access is available for a fee.
Five rivers have their headwaters here, making it a popular destination for anglers. For best results, you’ll want to hire your own guide, which you can do for as little as $50 for a half-day trip. If you’re content not to fish and don’t want to explore the backcountry or summits, you can explore on foot any of the short, moderately strenuous trails originating at the main visitor center.
Good, fresh fruit is abundant in variety and low in cost. Mercados provide an excellent place to sample fruit and other Costa Rican fare, with many including sit-down snack bars. You are encouraged to experiment because some of the local fruits do not "travel well" as they are bruised easily and or have a short shelf life. The mango found in store in North America are much more fibrous and less sweet than the mangos found in Costa Rica. The fingerling bananas are much more creamy and less tart than the ones found in North America.
According to Lonely Planet, Parque Nacional Corcovado houses “the last great original tract of tropical rainforest in Pacific Central America.” It’s home to half of all Costa Rican species, including the world’s largest bird of prey (the harpy) eagle and several endangered mammals. Some naturalists regard Corcovado as the most biologically diverse place on the planet, as measured by density of unique species.
After relaxing in the rainforest lodges and on the pristine beaches of Costa Rica, it is time to get into the party spirit. Visit in October and you may just coincide with carnival in the Caribbean coastal city of Puerto Limón, an explosion of extravagant colourful costumes, dancing in the streets and spicy creole dishes. This is where the Caribbean culture of the country comes to life, celebrating its West Indian roots and inviting everyone to join the party.
Costa Rica has developed a system of payments for environmental services. Similarly, Costa Rica has a tax on water pollution to penalize businesses and homeowners that dump sewage, agricultural chemicals, and other pollutants into waterways. In May 2007, the Costa Rican government announced its intentions to become 100% carbon neutral by 2021. By 2015, 93 percent of the country's electricity came from renewable sources. In 2016, the country produced 98% of its electricity from renewable sources and ran completely on renewable sources for 110 continuous days.
Costa Rica and Nicaragua regularly file border dispute cases over the delimitations of the San Juan River and the northern tip of Calero Island to the International Court of Justice (ICJ); in 2009, the ICJ ruled that Costa Rican vessels carrying out police activities could not use the river, but official Costa Rican vessels providing essential services to riverside inhabitants and Costa Rican tourists could travel freely on the river; in 2011, the ICJ provisionally ruled that both countries must remove personnel from the disputed area; in 2013, the ICJ rejected Nicaragua's 2012 suit to halt Costa Rica's construction of a highway paralleling the river on the grounds of irreparable environmental damage; in 2013, the ICJ, regarding the disputed territory, ordered that Nicaragua should refrain from dredging or canal construction and refill and repair damage caused by trenches connecting the river to the Caribbean and upheld its 2010 ruling that Nicaragua must remove all personnel; in early 2014, Costa Rica brought Nicaragua to the ICJ over offshore oil concessions in the disputed region
Maternal mortality rate: The maternal mortality rate (MMR) is the annual number of female deaths per 100,000 live births from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes). The MMR includes deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, for a specified year.
Costa Rica was sparsely inhabited by indigenous peoples before coming under Spanish rule in the 16th century. It remained a peripheral colony of the empire until independence as part of the First Mexican Empire, followed by membership in the United Provinces of Central America, from which it formally declared independence in 1847. Since then, Costa Rica has remained among the most stable, prosperous, and progressive[peacock term] nations in Latin America. Following the brief Costa Rican Civil War, it permanently abolished its army in 1949, becoming one of only a few sovereign nations without a standing army.