Executive branch: This entry includes five subentries: chief of state; head of government; cabinet; elections/appointments; election results. Chief of state includes the name, title, and beginning date in office of the titular leader of the country who represents the state at official and ceremonial functions but may not be involved with the day-to-day activities of the government. Head of government includes the name, title of the top executive designated to manage the executive branch of the government, a . . . more
There are lot of biodiverse countries in the world, but in our opinion, Costa Rica is the best country in the world. Between pristine beaches on both the Pacific coast and Caribbean coast, a national park full of beautiful flora and fauna around every corner and hundreds of plant and animal species in every popular tourist destination, Costa Rica’s natural beauty cannot be beat! It’s truly a magical place. All of various attractions in Costa Rica make it a great place for relaxing and adventurous tours and activities.
Insider's advice: Monteverde is home to the best canopy hanging bridges tours and canopy zipline courses in Costa Rica and perhaps the world. If you are planning on enjoying one of these activities, save in for Monteverde! Birdwatchers will like to know that the best time to observe Resplendent Quetzals is during their breeding season from February through May. Three-Wattled Bell Birds breed in Monteverde March through June. 

If there is one thing that killed us (and our electronics) it was the humidity in Costa Rica. We found the humidity in Costa Rica particularly bad in the south, along with the coast, and pretty much anywhere away from the cloud forest. It was particularly hard to dry our clothes and keep them from not smelling and molding, but the real problem was with our electronics going haywire.
Costa Rica requires valid Yellow fever certificate if arriving from most neighbouring countries. If such is not presented you would not be allowed to enter/board the flight. At Bogota airport - if you have certificate you can have it emailed to the airline and then proceed to the local vaccination authority for duplicate certificate to be issued free of charge. The critical part is to get the printed version on time. If you don't have certificate or cannot get it on time you will probably be approached by friendly police officers to arrange such for a fee. Keep in mind that the date of the vaccination should be at least 10 days prior entering the country from which you are flying.
Simply stated, if you’re not used to this kind of driving, be very careful and always drive defensively. You might be cut off and tailgated. There’s a good chance you’ll see cars jump the line, not heed to stop signs and not use blinkers. Of course not all Costa Ricans drive this way but generally, their driving culture is not quite as structured and the infrastructure is not the best. Once you get out to the rural areas, it’s much more relaxed since there are less cars but you still need to drive defensively.
Most people who visit Costa Rica head straight to the coast – either the Pacific or the Caribbean. Yet, one of the nicest things to do in Costa Rica is exploring the Central Valley. There are many nice places to visit, most of them completely off the beaten path. I truly enjoyed Sarchi – where I must have been the only tourist the locals had seen in a while, and Tucurrique.
"Visiting Costa Rica was the best vacation we ever had. It was a relaxing trip with lots of sun, the climate and the people were amazing. The country have breathtaking sceneries and wildlife, the food was sumptuous and the citizens were so far the happiest people I know. Some of the highlights of the trip were, a hike near Arenal Volcano, a boat ride on Lake Arenal, crossing the hanging bridges, zip lining in the rain forest and and at the top of the canopy, soaking up the sun on a Pacific Ocean beach and we had fun traveling with a diverse group of wonderful people."
When you need a break from surf, sun, and hiking, you should consider a visit to the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in San Jose, which is home to an astonishing 1,600 individual gold artifacts that date back to the pre-Columbian era. You can start your visit by watching a short orientation video (in English), which will pave the way for you to explore the exhibits in your own time – audio guides are available for rental and you can pre-book a guided tour if you prefer a more in-depth experience. Located in the same building, you will also find the National Coin Museum and the Casa de Moneda, which documents the history of minting in Costa Rica.
If surfing is not your thing, but you still like being in the water, try stand up paddle boarding. It’s quite the thing in Costa Rica lately. Many people sign up for classes, but if you are just in for the fun of it, you can just rent the board and go on your own. It’s a nice way to get a good work out (it’s much harder than it looks) and explore the coast, the rivers and the lakes of Costa Rica. Most hotels and beaches rent out boards. It’s also possible to rent boards or sign up for classes online.
A pioneer of ecotourism, Costa Rica draws many tourists to its extensive series of national parks and other protected areas.[113] In the 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, Costa Rica ranked 44th in the world and second among Latin American countries after Mexico in 2011.[114] By the time of the 2017 report, the country had reached 38th place, slightly behind Panama.[115] The Ethical Traveler group's ten countries on their 2017 list of The World's Ten Best Ethical Destinations includes Costa Rica. The country scored highest in environmental protection among the winners.[116] Costa Rica began reversing deforestation in the 1990s, and they are moving towards using only renewable energy.[117]
And though I'm reluctant to see towns like touristy Tamarindo get even bigger and filled with still more traffic, I can't help but spread the gospel of Costa Rica—especially to my fellow Houstonians. The pristine beaches, animal-filled jungles and awe-inspiring volcanoes offer endless realms of exploration for the casual vacationers, the adventure-seekers and everyone in between, and getting to this Central American paradise has never been easier.
If you are heading to La Fortuna it is definitely worth checking out the hot springs. There are a lot of hot springs geared towards tourists where you can expect to pay up to $100 for admission. These hot springs are nicely maintained and look absolutely beautiful. If you are looking for a more local experience check out the smaller hot springs which cost about $10 per person.
Magic Mountain Hotel and Spa is located on the northern end of Fortuna. All rooms have either a balcony or a terrace with a view of Arenal Volcano. Magic Mountain has a restaurant, sports bar, swimming pool with pool bar and two jacuzzis. The deluxe spa specializes in a variety of treatments including volcanic mud wraps, massages, facials, pedicures and manicures. Internet access is available in the Internet cafes for a fee in the nearby village of Fortuna.
for its incredible beaches and magical rainforests. But Costa Rica’s beauty is not limited to its golden beaches – the backbone of this coastal nation consists of some truly stunning mountain ranges, many of which contain active and dormant volcanoes. You’ll also find ample waterfalls, lakes and rivers throughout the country. For this reason, adventure sports such as zip-lining, white-water rafting and cycling are popular in inland destinations such as La Fortuna and Montverde.

Generally speaking, the Caribbean side’s waters are calmer and slightly warmer, while the Pacific side is rougher and more temperamental. Both sides are stunningly beautiful, with broad beaches, lush forests, dramatic cliffs, and engaging marine environments. Just be sure to obey all posted warnings, including wildlife warnings and “no trespassing” signs. And never swim alone, especially on the Pacific side: Costa Rica’s Pacific waters are notorious for dangerous, changeable rip currents.
Most Costa Rican coffee tours cover a single plantation, though it’s possible to string together several stops, just as in wine country, if variety is a priority. Each tour includes a walk through the plantation’s fields, a discussion of local coffee history and terroir, and a look at the processing facilities that turn coffee fruits into liquid enthusiasm. Fresh-made coffee is almost always available. Some tours allow participants to pick raw coffee fruits as souvenirs, depending on the season.
During your morning at leisure, you may wish to go on an optional horseback ride or float trip. Or, you can take advantage of your resort’s amenities by walking along the shaded trails nearby. Later this afternoon, visit ARENAL VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK, where your guide takes you on a walk through lava trails of the volcano and shows you how nature has found a way to recover from past lava flows. Next, enjoy a walking tour of the town of La Fortuna de San Carlos, offering spectacular views of the active Arenal Volcano. This evening, drive to nearby famous TABACÓN HOT SPRINGS for a dip in the curative and relaxing pools. Later, enjoy a dinner at the hot springs.
Costa Rica finished a term on the United Nations Security Council, having been elected for a nonrenewable, two-year term in the 2007 election. Its term expired on 31 December 2009; this was Costa Rica's third time on the Security Council. Elayne Whyte Gómez is the Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the UN Office at Geneva (2017) and President of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons.[124]
Fares vary widely by destination and demand, but you can expect local journeys (under two hours) to cost less than $10 one-way and longer trips to cost less than $20. Be mindful of the difference between directo (direct) and colectivo (multi-stop) buses; the latter might be a few bucks cheaper, but it’s also really slow. Pay close attention to bus stop locations: central bus terminals are unheard of in Costa Rica, even in San Jose, and virtually every company maintains its own hubs in towns served. It’s distressingly easy for non-Spanish speakers to get on the wrong bus.
Accommodation – Hostel dorm beds are between 5,500 to 10,000 CRC (10-15 USD) per night. Private rooms in hostels are usually around 15,000 CRC (25 USD). Free WiFi is standard, and most hostels also include free breakfast. The majority of hostels around the country also offer self-catering facilities, too. Budget hotels begin around 17,000 CRC (30 USD) per night for a double/twin room and go up from there (breakfast is often included). For Airbnb, shared accommodation usually begins around 15,000 CRC (25 USD) per night. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay around 25,000 CRC (40 USD) per night. For those traveling with a tent, camping is an option. Most campgrounds usually charge 5,500 CRC (10 USD) per night though you’ll pay up to double that for camping in national parks.
amendments: proposals require the signatures of at least 10 Legislative Assembly members or by petition of at least 5% of qualified voters; consideration of proposals requires two-thirds majority approval in each of 3 readings by the Assembly, followed by preparation of the proposal as a legislative bill and its approval by simple majority of the Assembly; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly membership; a referendum is required only if approved by at least two-thirds of the Assembly; amended many times, last in 2015 (2018)
Legal system: This entry provides the description of a country's legal system. A statement on judicial review of legislative acts is also included for a number of countries. The legal systems of nearly all countries are generally modeled upon elements of five main types: civil law (including French law, the Napoleonic Code, Roman law, Roman-Dutch law, and Spanish law); common law (including United State law); customary law; mixed or pluralistic law; and religious law (including Islamic law). An addition . . . more
Costa Rica has been cited as Central America's great health success story.[166] Its healthcare system is ranked higher than that of the United States, despite having a fraction of its GDP.[167] Prior to 1940, government hospitals and charities provided most health care. But since the 1941 creation of the Social Insurance Administration (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social – CCSS), Costa Rica has provided universal health care to its wage-earning residents, with coverage extended to dependants over time. In 1973, the CCSS took over administration of all 29 of the country's public hospitals and all health care, also launching a Rural Health Program (Programa de Salud Rural) for primary care to rural areas, later extended to primary care services nationwide. In 1993, laws were passed to enable elected health boards that represented health consumers, social insurance representatives, employers, and social organizations. By the year 2000, social health insurance coverage was available to 82% of the Costa Rican population. Each health committee manages an area equivalent to one of the 83 administrative cantons of Costa Rica. There is limited use of private, for-profit services (around 14.4% of the national total health expenditure). About 7% of GDP is allocated to the health sector, and over 70% is government funded.
Like most of Central America, Costa Rican cuisine is influenced by Spanish, South American, Caribbean and American cuisine. In general, the food tends to be wholesome and tasty, but not very spicy. On the Caribbean side of the country, however, food has an Afro-Caribbean flair, with dishes featuring coconut milk, more spices, and lots of pork and goat.
Our Wildlife Safaris, with the very best bilingual naturalist guides, can escort you into a variety of protected natural habitats, such as pristine rainforests, coastal canals, tropical dry forest, wetlands, and cloud forests to name just a few. Whether you are wanting to travel way into the wilderness or prefer being led into easier areas for mountain birdwatching and lowland river cruises, we offer excellent wildlife observation opportunities to choose from.
Hi Alessia! Selvatura Park is super fun, you don’t have to have a guide with you for the hanging bridges, you can walk the ones in Selvatura on your own. If you want to do just do the hanging bridges, you have to pay for the entrance so for example if you go to Sky Adventures and you just want to do their hanging bridges, you’ll have to pay the entrance fee to that. At Selvatura you can pick which activities you want to do is you can do zipline + hanging bridges if you like.
Many visitors to the gorgeous, forested mountain tops choose to partake in guided hikes during day and night. Experiencing both brings better views of the immensity of the wildlife that ranges from Baird’s tapir, collared peccary, jaguar, jaguarundi, agouti, three-toed sloth, vampire bats and more. The opportunity to see the variety of wildlife abound while touring the trails of Monteverde or Santa Elena Cloud Forests year-round.
For the best beaches, we suggest the North Pacific Coast. Tamarindo is one of the most popular beaches in this area. It can get pretty crowded, but it has lots of restaurants, shops, and other facilities. Alternatively, we love the quiet area near Playa Avellanas (just south of Tamarindo). It’s more rustic down here and less developed, but easily accessible by car and a great place to relax and enjoy the Pura Vida lifestyle!
Costa Rica is the most visited nation in the Central American region,[106] with 2.9 million foreign visitors in 2016, up 10% from 2015.[107] In 2015, the tourism sector was responsible for 5.8% of the country's GDP, or $3.4 billion.[108] In 2016, the highest number of tourists came from the United States, with 1,000,000 visitors, followed by Europe with 434,884 arrivals.[109] According to Costa Rica Vacations, once tourists arrive in the country, 22% go to Tamarindo, 18% go to Arenal, 17% pass through Liberia (where the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport is located), 16% go to San José, the country's capital (passing through Juan Santamaría International Airport), while 18% choose Manuel Antonio and 7% Monteverde.[110]

San Bada is a spectacular new hotel in Manuel Antonio, located directly at the entrance to the world famous Manuel Antonio National Park. It is the closest hotel to the Park and a short, easy walk to the breathtaking public beaches of Manuel Antonio. Here at San Bada, you'll sleep to the magical sounds of the jungle. The beautifully furnished guest rooms have balconies and include free Wi-Fi. The hotel features two pools. Enjoy magnificent views of the ocean from San Bada's unique Sunset Terrace Bar.
Household income or consumption by percentage share: Data on household income or consumption come from household surveys, the results adjusted for household size. Nations use different standards and procedures in collecting and adjusting the data. Surveys based on income will normally show a more unequal distribution than surveys based on consumption. The quality of surveys is improving with time, yet caution is still necessary in making inter-country comparisons.
The waves can be a little rough out there and if you often get seasick, I’d stay away from this Costa Rica activity (or at least take some sea sickness pills before). A lot of beaches will have a place where you can rent sea kayaks. Our favorite spot is definitely at Playa Biesanz near Manuel Antonio. We rented a nice two-person sea kayak for only $12 an hour. Also, Thomas is dying to do some sea kayaking and fishing in Guanacaste. We’ll report back on that!

One of the best parts of staying at budget hotels in Costa Rica is many of these accommodations have a kitchen that guests can use. Some even have kitchenettes in the hotel rooms. If you are looking to save a little money this is a great option. We have cooked our own meals at several hotels and while we love to explore new restaurants sometimes while traveling it is actually really nice to have a home-cooked meal.


One good dock for water taxi excursions is Los Chiles but our favorite ride was from Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui to Trinidad on the Nicaraguan border.  The other half dozen passengers kept making the captain pull up to the bank and idle while we took pictures of caimen, kingfishers, monkeys, sloth and other wildlife they spotted.  Even though they were all locals who where just trying to get home after a shopping and banking excursion in Puerto Viejo no one complained that the two gringos doubled the time for the trip.

Most visitors returning home are not allowed to bring back any raw foods or plants. Accordingly, the single most desirable commodity for visitors to take home may be roasted (not green) coffee,considered by many as some of the world's best. Numerous web sites explain the fine qualities of various growing regions, types of beans, types of roasting and sources for purchase. Best prices come by purchasing several (sealed) bags of 12 ounces or so, but you can also buy in larger quantity if you look hard enough (the Mercado Central in San José has a coffee vendor that sells many varieties, including organic, by the kilo). And experts definitely recommend buying whole beans (entero): in any kind of storage, they last longer, and ground coffee sold in Costa Rica often contains sugar because it preferred by locals -- if you want pure coffee without additives look for "puro" on the package. The stores in San José airport will sell you excellent coffee, but other good quality blends can be found in local supermarkets and direct from the roasters. It can be an expensive but delicious habit. If you're serious about your coffee, bring at least a partially-empty suit case and fill it with perhaps a year's supply (web sites explain how to store it that long). Take care with tourist outlets (especially at the airport) where small quantities may cost as much as ordering on the Internet.
We are here in Coco Beach. A lovely town with over 65 restaurants! At least 3 grocery stores, and most palces have free wifi. We are here for 8 weeks, and have been here one. Coconutz is a favorite Gringo hangout with NFL games and specials every night. The best is Wednesday nights- 9.00 pp gets you all you can eat salad, spaghetti and pizza plus a new current movie. Last week was The Accountant and this week is Masterminds. We love Thursdays with a live band. Other good restaurants are the Z lounge and on the beach Bamboo. They also have live music on Sundays. It is only 40 minutes from Liberia airport and a lovely town. We were able to find sim cards at a local shop and are set for Pure Vida!
In case you didn’t know, Costa Rica has something called the rainforest. It’s a safe bet that you’ll be caught in one of the countries many thunderstorms. If you are traveling Costa Rica in the wet season (May-December), a rain jacket is essential, but I would bring one any time of year just to be safe. The rain is typically short-lived, but you won’t want to get soaked during that time.
Hi Nastassia, The trip to Costa Rica was amazing! We had a wonderful time. We really enjoyed all the tours and activities. Our guide, Gilbert, was awesome. The accommodations were excellent. We had so much fun traveling with this group of people. All the transfers went off without any problems. Thanks for planning and implementing a headache-free trip!
Or skip cash altogether. Every brick-and-mortar merchant we patronized, including hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Liberia, accepted major credit cards. Because they’re dollar-denominated at contemporaneous exchange rates, credit card transactions with foreign-transaction-fee-free cards are cheaper than cash transactions, which require withdrawals from ATMs charging 2% to 3% for the privilege. If you rent your own car and avoid the informal economy, you can get by without touching a paper note.
Current account balance: This entry records a country's net trade in goods and services, plus net earnings from rents, interest, profits, and dividends, and net transfer payments (such as pension funds and worker remittances) to and from the rest of the world during the period specified. These figures are calculated on an exchange rate basis, i.e., not in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms.
Costa Rica offers many exciting ways to immerse yourself in its natural elements. It is the consummate destination for exploring ecosystems and connecting with a peaceful culture. Whether discovering fascinating species with a friendly Costa Rican guide, zipping across the rainforest canopy, or relaxing in a volcano-heated hot spring, there are a variety of tours and activities to engage travelers of all types.
Wildlife - Costa Rica is world famous for having an incredibly high level of biodiversity throughout its tropical forests (this covers what you may hear referred to as rain forests, cloud forests, and dry forests). There are tropical mammals such as monkeys, sloths, tapirs, and wild cats as well as an amazing assortment of insects and other animals. There are many many birds (both migratory and resident) - more on that below. With 25% of the country being national parks and protected areas, there are still many places you can go to see the abundant wildlife and lush vegetation of the country. Just like anywhere, the farther you get off the beaten path, the more likely you are to see a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Land use: This entry contains the percentage shares of total land area for three different types of land use: agricultural land, forest, and other; agricultural land is further divided into arable land - land cultivated for crops like wheat, maize, and rice that are replanted after each harvest, permanent crops - land cultivated for crops like citrus, coffee, and rubber that are not replanted after each harvest, and includes land under flowering shrubs, fruit trees, nut trees, and vines, and permane . . . more

We had a wonderful time! Rafael was a wealth of knowledge of the history of Costa Rica, all the wildlife that we saw, and his organizational skills were outstanding throughout the tour. The accommodations were amazing and we were so impressed with how clean all of the areas were and how friendly all the staff of the hotels were. More importantly all of the staff of Gate 1 were very kind and helpful. The bus driver Mauricio was outstanding driving that huge bus through those mountain roads, making sure the bus was spotless, and being helpful and friendly. We will definitely use Gate 1 Travel for other upcoming trips.
Hi! We had an AMAZING TRIP! ... Larry our tour guide was Fantastic and made our trip that much better! The hotels we stayed at were BEAUTIFUL and were more then we could have hoped for! We cant wait for the day until we can return to the BEAUTIFUL COSTA RICA!!! We look forward to joining Gate 1 on another tour, and maybe to a different destination! I hope one day I can show my 5 kids all the beauty there is to offer in Costa Rica! Thank you for making our trip the best possible .... Pura Vida!!
The 2011 census classified 83.6% of the population as white or Mestizo; the latter are persons of combined European and Amerindian descent. The Mulatto segment (mix of white and black) represented 6.7% and indigenous people made up 2.4% of the population.[2] Native and European mixed blood populations are far less than in other Latin American countries. Exceptions are Guanacaste, where almost half the population is visibly mestizo, a legacy of the more pervasive unions between Spanish colonists and Chorotega Amerindians through several generations, and Limón, where the vast majority of the Afro-Costa Rican community lives.

I mentioned above that zika is of significant concern for pregnant and planning-to-become-pregnant visitors. Zika infections are often mild (low fever, chills) or entirely asymptomatic, so you won’t necessarily know that you’ve been afflicted. And it’s not just women who have to worry: though more research needs to be done, it appears that sexual transmission is possible.
The busiest times of the year for travelers are December through April and then again from June through August.  Peak seasons include December 15 – January 5, the entire months of February and March, Easter week and the first two weeks of July.  Quality accommodations are generally reserved solid 6 or more months in advance for these times of the year.
When encountering a new currency, learn the exchange rate from a reliable source (online ahead of time or a local bank, preferably) and create a little cheat sheet converting it to US dollars or the other Central American currency you are comfortable with. Travel with small denominations of US dollars (crisp 1s, 5s, 10s) as back-up... usually you'll be able to use them if you run out of local currency.
The primary language spoken in Costa Rica is Spanish, which features characteristics distinct to the country, a form of Central American Spanish. Costa Rica is a linguistically diverse country and home to at least five living local indigenous languages spoken by the descendants of pre-Columbian peoples: Maléku, Cabécar, Bribri, Guaymí, and Buglere.
Literacy: This entry includes a definition of literacy and Census Bureau percentages for the total population, males, and females. There are no universal definitions and standards of literacy. Unless otherwise specified, all rates are based on the most common definition - the ability to read and write at a specified age. Detailing the standards that individual countries use to assess the ability to read and write is beyond the scope of the Factbook. Information on literacy, while not a perfect measu . . . more

Most Afro-Costa Ricans descend from Jamaican immigrants who worked in the construction of that railway and now make up about 3% of Costa Rica's population.[51] U.S. convicts, Italians and Chinese immigrants also participated in the construction project. In exchange for completing the railroad, the Costa Rican government granted Keith large tracts of land and a lease on the train route, which he used to produce bananas and export them to the United States. As a result, bananas came to rival coffee as the principal Costa Rican export, while foreign-owned corporations (including the United Fruit Company later) began to hold a major role in the national economy and eventually became a symbol of the exploitative export economy.[52] The major labor dispute between the peasants and the United Fruit Company (The Great Banana Strike) was a major event in the country's history and was an important step that would eventually lead to the formation of effective trade unions in Costa Rica, as the company was required to sign a collective agreement with its workers in 1938.[53][54]
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