Costa Rica's political stability, high standard of living, and well-developed social benefits system set it apart from its Central American neighbors. Through the government's sustained social spending - almost 20% of GDP annually - Costa Rica has made tremendous progress toward achieving its goal of providing universal access to education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and electricity. Since the 1970s, expansion of these services has led to a rapid decline in infant mortality, an increase in life expectancy at birth, and a sharp decrease in the birth rate. The average number of children born per women has fallen from about 7 in the 1960s to 3.5 in the early 1980s to below replacement level today. Costa Rica's poverty rate is lower than in most Latin American countries, but it has stalled at around 20% for almost two decades.
Studying in the San Jose area has many benefits. There is the luxury aspect of city life since it tends to be much more modern than the rustic beach locations. Host families and Spanish schools tend to have nicer facilities. San Jose also has fewer tourists so it is great from an immersion point of view as you can practice your Spanish in a setting where people are not automatically switching to English to accommodate your native language. It is much better that you struggle with your Spanish and force your brain to think in a different language so your communication becomes much smoother.
Don’t be turned off by popularity. No two travelers will ever have the same experience on the trails, see the same wildlife, have the same guide, etc. Our popular packages are still uniquely yours. Furthermore, they can be customized to be exactly what you want them to be. Scared of heights? Pull the canopy zip line tour out of your trip. Have to swim in a rainforest waterfall during your visit? Add it on! Hotel and resort upgrades are available and highly encouraged. This is your trip. Do it your way!
The Costa Rica Safari will carry you from the remote region of Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast, only accessible by boat, to the jungles of Arenal Volcano, including Tabacon Hot Springs. Then to top it off you’ll visit the amazing Monteverde Cloud Forest. Your guides will take you exploring the canals by river safari, the rainforest by hanging bridges, and on a leisurely informative nature hike in the cloud forest. You’re sure to see plenty of wildlife on this 10-day eco-adventure. A nature lover’s dream!
Population: This entry gives an estimate from the US Bureau of the Census based on statistics from population censuses, vital statistics registration systems, or sample surveys pertaining to the recent past and on assumptions about future trends. The total population presents one overall measure of the potential impact of the country on the world and within its region. Note: Starting with the 1993 Factbook, demographic estimates for some countries (mostly African) have explicitly taken into account t . . . more
Costa Rica has numerous private international K-12 schools where students are taught in either English or a mixture of English and Spanish. Education standards in these schools are comparable to that of private schools in countries such as the United States, at around a third of the cost. Lincoln School is one of the most highly regarded international schools in Costa Rica and Central America. Some of these schools also offer Spanish lessons for those who wish to learn.
Pure Life Adventure presents an awesome opportunity to pick your adventure preferences while visiting the Arenal Volcano area, complete with river and rainforest activities, plus onsite hot springs at your resort! Then you’ll be off to the Pacific coast to go beachcombing along the white sandy shores of Manuel Antonio Beach. This is an incredibly affordable package that will take you to two of the top three destinations in Costa Rica. And, if you want, you can choose to extend your itinerary to add the third most popular tourist area, the Monteverde Cloud Forest! You’ll enjoy great hotels, incredible tours, beautiful beaches and soothing hot springs on this wonderful 7-day Pura Vida adventure combo. (Pure Life Adventure + Monteverde) that includes a couple of days at the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
So about that "Switzerland" nickname: Costa Rica's military was famously abolished in 1949, with the budget instead allocated towards education and culture. It's the most stable country in Central America, with a democratically elected government that steadfastly refuses to involve itself in regional conflicts. As a result, its crime rate is also quite low, with violent crime rates well below those in the U.S. (Petty crimes, like theft, can be a problem in more tourist-ridden areas though, so don't leave your purse or backpack laying around unattended.)
Green and life are everywhere, from the 1200 species of orchids that garnish our trees to life sprouting on the beaches every year when millions of green turtles, leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles reach the Caribbean coast at the National Park Tortuguero to lay their eggs, traveling from miles away. Similarly, at Ostional, in the Pacific thousands of Lora turtles (Kemp's Ridley) reach the beach every year.
Costa Rica is a melting pot of cultures. Spanish immigrants left their mark and Jamaican influences make themselves known on the country’s Caribbean Coast, but it wouldn’t do to forget the peoples who inhabited the lands long before it was colonized. In Arenal, visit the Maleku community, meet a local family, and learn how their lifestyle has been impacted by modern development – and how they work to preserve their traditions. Head towards San Ramon and take a cultural tour, where you’ll learn all about the city of poets with guides who grew up in this charming community.
If you are planning on renting a car it is almost always possible to experience the same activities as the day tours you will come across online but on your own. For example, a popular travel tour company offers a day trip from San Jose to La Fortuna for volcano viewing and relaxing at a fancy hot spring. This tour also includes lunch and dinner for $130.
If you want to use a local Costa Rica number, you can rent cell phone service, and of course anyone can buy a cell phone. You used to have to be a documented resident of the Costa Rica to own your own cell phone number, and even then you only got one if there are numbers available. You still have to be a resident if you want monthly billed service to an address (such as in the U.S.). But since the passage of the CAFTA treaty in 2009, the government cell phone monopoly has been broken and service is now provided by many operators, including Grupo ICE  under the Kölbi brand, TuYo Movil (reselling the ICE service), Movistar and Claro (the latter two also providing service throughout Latin America). Currently coverage on Kölbi is best because the network is the oldest and most built out (e.g. there is no Movistar service in Monteverde. Update: 2014-11-2 There is now HSPA+ Movistar service in Monteverde).
Tucked away on an isolated stretch of Caribbean coast, just west of the Panamanian border, is Costa Rica’s other Playa Manzanillo – more commonly known by its English name. The area’s isolation, and the fact that much of the surrounding coastline is protected by a wildlife refuge, makes for a truly secluded experience. If you’re up for exploring the coastline by boat, rent a kayak in nearby Puerto Viejo or hop on a guided boat tour for $50 per day and up.
Although this nation encapsulates a mere 51,100 square kilometers, Costa Rica's biodiversity could fill an entire continent. Encompassing 12 distinct ecological zones, Ticos are well aware of their natural treasures: it is on its way to becoming the first carbon neutral nation by 2021. Costa Rica is home to 5 percent of the world's biodiversity, and locals are serious about protecting this magnificent environment.
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.
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.
Molten hot lava used to spill from this perfectly conical volcano, but in recent years activity has calmed. It still smokes from time to time and you are not allowed to hike to the crater, but the Arenal National Park is an adventure playground where you can fly through the canopy on zip wires, visit hot springs or take the hanging bridges to get as close as possible to the crater.
The impact of indigenous peoples on modern Costa Rican culture has been relatively small compared to other nations, since the country lacked a strong native civilization to begin with. Most of the native population was absorbed into the Spanish-speaking colonial society through inter-marriage, except for some small remnants, the most significant of which are the Bribri and Boruca tribes who still inhabit the mountains of the Cordillera de Talamanca, in the southeastern part of Costa Rica, near the frontier with Panama.