Exchange rates: This entry provides the average annual price of a country's monetary unit for the time period specified, expressed in units of local currency per US dollar, as determined by international market forces or by official fiat. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 4217 alphabetic currency code for the national medium of exchange is presented in parenthesis. Closing daily exchange rates are not presented in The World Factbook, but are used to convert stock values - e.g., the . . . more
The marvelous biodiversity is amplified with a wealth of agriculture as the warm, fertile soils and abundant minerals are present amidst an average rainfall of more than 13 inches a year. Guanacaste, a large producer of Brahman cattle, sugar cane, cotton, and rice, receives irrigated water from Lake Arenal during the dry season. The use of irrigation has allowed farms in the more arid regions across Costa Rica to farm crops that are usually found in wetter, tropical areas, such as pineapple, mangos, bananas, and sugar cane. An abundance of wild fruits grows along the roadside, such as cashew fruits, mangoes, papaya, and guava. However, plantations fill the markets both large and small, from tiny villages near the Caribbean to the megastores of San Jose.
San Jose bursts with liveliness and excitement that blends into the daily life of Ticos, Costa Rica natives. The capital of Costa Rica contains an ineffable charm that is strewn beneath the potholed streets and mishmash of corrugated metal and plaster homes. The chaos of rumbling cars, buses, and people reveal a connection to the capitals of Central America but give way to the mixture of traditional and historical buildings. The city was founded in 1737 but remained a forgotten settlement of the Spanish empire until the late 19th century due to the emerging coffee trade.
Another important factor behind Costa Rica's poverty was the lack of a significant indigenous population available for encomienda (forced labor), which meant most of the Costa Rican settlers had to work on their own land, preventing the establishment of large haciendas (plantations). For all these reasons, Costa Rica was, by and large, unappreciated and overlooked by the Spanish Crown and left to develop on its own. The circumstances during this period are believed to have led to many of the idiosyncrasies for which Costa Rica has become known, while concomitantly setting the stage for Costa Rica's development as a more egalitarian society than the rest of its neighbors. Costa Rica became a "rural democracy" with no oppressed mestizo or indigenous class. It was not long before Spanish settlers turned to the hills, where they found rich volcanic soil and a milder climate than that of the lowlands.
Major infectious diseases: This entry lists major infectious diseases likely to be encountered in countries where the risk of such diseases is assessed to be very high as compared to the United States. These infectious diseases represent risks to US government personnel traveling to the specified country for a period of less than three years. The degree of risk is assessed by considering the foreign nature of these infectious diseases, their severity, and the probability of being affected by the diseases present. Th . . . more
The good news is that there is a brand new highway known as Autopista Del Sol (Highway of the Sun) that stretches from the beaches around Orotina all the way into San Jose. This highway is smooth as U.S. or European highways, in fact it was constructed by a company that is based in Spain. There are tolls along this highway but if you travel the entire stretch it will still only come out to be a few dollars in total. 2011 update: unfortunately, problems have been found with this highway and parts of it are sometimes closed for repairs.
Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular destinations for eco-tourists because of its biodiversity. Costa Rica possesses the greatest density of species in the world, and around 25% of its national territory is protected by a system of conservation areas and national parks. It has been stated in various places that Costa Rica may contain as much as 6% of the world's plant and animal species. Both tropical plant and animal species abound in Costa Rica. Some of the more impressive plants range from huge ficus trees with epiphytes abounding on their limbs to approximately 1500 different orchids. The animals are equally as impressive, whether it's a jaguar (the largest cat in the New World), the ever-elusive Margay, or the wonderful birds like the green or scarlet macaws (lapas in Costa Rican Spanish.) The amphibians are also quite impressive; the poison dart frogs with their bright colors are bound to catch your attention, or the giant cane toads.
There are two internal airlines that connect the major tourist towns. You are limited to 25 or 30 pounds of carry-on luggage per person, depending on the airline. Nature Air allows more luggage per person, as their planes are larger and are also twin-engine. The main airlines are NatureAir  and Sansa . In 2017, 2 deadly accidents happened with Nature Air : one in september with 2 killed on 6 and in december 2017, all 10 passenger and both crew members aboard Nature Air Flight 9916 were killed in a crash shortly after takeoff. According to Tico Times, the local newspaper from January 14th, announces that Civil Aviation autorities suspend all operations of Nature Air which had to cancel all the flights. Travelers tried to be refunded of the cancelled flights, but Nature Air didn't refund the money and sent to customers this message by email : "Gentleman, I have sent your emails to my superior. I would like to help you but there is nothing more that I can do, in the end I know that you will not have your money back because the company has established it, they are in crisis and do not have money to make these repayments, I am sorry ." So a lot of travelers have never been refunded by Nature Air for their cancelled flights and there a lot of complaints on social networks and travel forums. In april 2018, the situation remains unchanged. To be followed for the future...
Distribution of family income - Gini index: This index measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income in a country. The index is calculated from the Lorenz curve, in which cumulative family income is plotted against the number of families arranged from the poorest to the richest. The index is the ratio of (a) the area between a country's Lorenz curve and the 45 degree helping line to (b) the entire triangular area under the 45 degree line. The more nearly equal a country's income distribution, the closer its . . . more
Go to a bank to change money when possible and practical. If you find yourself needing to use the services of a person who is a money changer (Sunday morning at the border, for instance) make sure to have your own calculator. Do not trust money changers and their doctored calculators, change the least amount of money possible and take a hard look at the bills – there's lots of false ones out there. Always insist that your change be in small bills – you'll lose more at one time if a large bill is false, plus large bills are hard to change (even the equivalent of USD20 in Costa Rica or USD5 in Nicaragua can be difficult in some small towns, believe it or not!) Money changers do not use the official exchange rate - you are better off going to a state owned bank to exchange your currency at no fee.
One of the most important details parents have when travelling is how to give to the whole family some unforgettable vacations without spending a fortune. With our affordable family vacation packages, every member of the family will have an amazing experience for the best price. No matter if you prefer an all-inclusive resort or a small cozy hotel; the beach or the forest…Costa Rica is one of the most family-friendly destinations of the world.
Costa Rica’s capital is located in the center of the country making it a great hub. Overall, the city only requires a few days. It’s sort of gritty and there’s not a whole lot to do. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art & Design to check out the future of Costa Rican art, the magnificent Teatro Nacional to take in its décor, and the history museum located in the town center too.
Kayaking allows you to go to areas that motored boats can’t go and you don’t disturb the wildlife as much so you can get very close. See toucans, macaws, turtles, monkeys, anteaters and all sorts of wildlife as you glide quietly on the water, surrounded by lush jungle with no one around. This is one of our favorite things to do in Costa Rica because we saw so many animals super close!
That’s an extreme example and the two experiences aren’t identical. Arenal Hanging Bridges is about 4 times larger (but also gets 50 times more visitors) and we did actually end up staying another night, going to the main entrance of Tenorio park and paying $15 to enter there and hike to the Celeste waterfall as well. Still it was less than half the price.
If you plan to spend most of your time in this part of the country (or all of your time at a beach resort – no judging), skip San Jose and fly directly to LIR. Depending on your final destination, you can expect to spend four or five hours driving from San Jose to the Nicoya Peninsula, compared with less than an hour from LIR. That means more time on the beach.
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.
Monkeys: You’re virtually guaranteed to see (or hear) monkeys in Costa Rica. Howler monkeys are among the loudest mammals on earth – their roars echo for miles through the jungle. If they keep their distance, they’re cute enough, but attacks aren’t unheard of. The biggest risk here isn’t trauma – it’s rabies, an invariably fatal disease that’s quite common in Costa Rican monkeys. Even a trivial-seeming scratch or bite requires immediate medical attention – an emergency vaccine course can stave off the disease.
election results: Carlos ALVARADO Quesada elected president in second round; percent of vote in first round - Fabricio ALVARADO Munoz (PRN) 25%; Carlos ALVARADO Quesada (PAC) 21.6%; Antonio ALVAREZ (PLN) 18.6%; Rodolfo PIZA (PUSC) 16%; Juan Diego CASTRO (PIN) 9.5%; Rodolfo HERNANDEZ (PRS) 4.9%, other 4.4%; percent of vote in second round - Carlos ALVARADO Quesada (PAC) 60.7%; Fabricio ALVARADO Munoz (PRN) 39.3%
Costa Rica caters to visitors of all types with a range of availability that includes boutique accommodations with individualized attention that enhances the opulence and comforts of the surrounding scenery without compromising the standards set by global trademark hotels. Hotels in San Jose incorporate the chic and fashionable décor associated with the capital city while resorts in Manuel Antonio National Park highlight the open walls for exceptional views with materials taken from the surrounding areas to not disrupt the biosphere. Lodges in Monteverde blend into the background of the cloud forest and accommodations in Tortuguero offer respite from the tropical humidity and heat that are accompanied by the marvelous vistas.
When speaking to Ticos from around San Jose, you will quickly learn the connection people have to the Gold Museum, finding it much more informative and elegant than any other exhibit in San Jose, including the National Museum. If you choose one gallery to visit during your time in the capital, the Gold Museum, the Museo de Oro, offers displays priceless artifacts that are connected to pre-Columbian peoples, including historical currency and regional art.
Costa Rica is a birdwatcher’s paradise and beckons both to amateur and professional birders from around the world eager to view the variety of avifauna in the remarkable biodiversity that spans rainforest, dry forest, wetlands, mangrove swamps, cloud forest, and more. An estimated 850 bird species reside in the country across the 12 ecological regions and climatic zones. 630 of the bird species are resident, with 19 species found on the endangered list. A birding hotspot route protects nearly 120,000 acres of bird ecosystems across Costa Rica through a network of reserves that are connected to private lodges. These properties help to protect the birdlife and wildlife in congruence with the government’s initiative to protect the distinctive ecosystems for which Costa Rica is known.
“And what a tour it is: Usually, travelers have to choose from among Costa Rica’s beaches, volcanoes and rain forests. This tour goes to all those places and includes every major sight, as well as three meals a day on all but two days, and excellent hotels and lodges. The cost is a remarkable $995 per person for everything other than airfare to the capital city of San Jose.
The best way to get the most out of your Costa Rica, Panama, or Nicaragua adventure is with a guided tour! An experienced naturalist is a must for any bird or wildlife watching trip – natural camouflage in addition to the dense rainforest undergrowth makes animal spotting tough. With the help of a bilingual guide, travelers might be lucky enough to spot some of Costa Rica’s shyer wildlife – like the near-mythical Resplendent Quetzal, the surprisingly sneaky tapir, or the ever-elusive jaguar.
The government helps to regulate industry and development to keep the biodiversity intact and rewards eco-friendly hotels, tour providers, and those that implement green business practices to help sustain the awe-inspiring beauty of the celebrated biodiversity. This allows Costa Rica to stay on track to become the first carbon-neutral country in the world, meeting its energy needs through a combination of hydroelectric, wind, and geothermal power.
Another way to get to Costa Rica that many people are unaware of is travelling by car and driving the Pan-American highway that stretches from Alaska all the way to Southern Panama and passes right through Costa Rica. If you enter Costa Rica by car, crossing the border with Nicaragua at Peñas Blancas, expect it to take 3-6 hours. All passengers have to leave the car with their luggage and pass it through a scanner, the car and driver goes through a different scanner, you line up for passport control, fill in several forms for the car, find an official who stamps and signs every form etc. Everything is chaotic, totally inefficient and obviously corrupt. The procedure is repeated on the other side of the border. Take note that a car insurance, written in Spanish and mentioning explicitly that it is valid for Costa Rica, will not be accepted, you have to buy a new one and pay 37 dollars.
The mountains surrounding the Central Valley offer a perfect altitude of nearly 3,700 feet above sea level that grows to over 5,575 feet above sea level for an ideal environment in which to cultivate coffee. The valley also keeps an average spring-like temperature year-round. The Talamanca Mountains border the south and the Poas, Barva, and Irazu volcanoes frame the northern edges of the bustling city. Contemporary art galleries bring insight into the seductive art scene while the Central Market provides visitors with a glimpse of the Tico lifestyle as locals traverse the aisles in the 19th century donut-like structure in search of fresh produce, fish, and meat.
Surfing is one of the most popular things to do in Costa Rica – this country gets some of the best waves in the world! My friends that regularly go surfing in Sardinia told me that nothing beats the waves of Pavones, Playa Tamarindo, Playa Negra and Playa Hermosa. Those who are keen to learn have plenty of choice for surf camps. Some people even go as far as booking surf holidays. Those who just want to have a try can sign up for a group or individual lesson.
There are also miles of quiet coastline and pristine beaches to explore (some of them are among the best beaches in Costa Rica), plus activities like mountain bike riding, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, and horseback riding. Birdwatchers can find much of interest in this part of the country too. Easy to see why this part of the country is among Costa Rica attractions.
Hi Jess, if you’re talking about safety while renting a car, just make sure to never leave anything in the car, don’t leave a bag or backpack out in the seat even if it’s empty because if a thief sees it, he could try to steal it. We’ve known people who left their bags out right in plain view in the backseats and got their car robbed so make sure never to leave anything in the car. As for houses, it’s fairly safe in Costa Rica and Avellanas is not a very busy area. Always lock up, don’t leave your valuables in sight and close your curtains. Most houses here have gates on windows and doors, so always lock the gates and many places that are rented to tourists have some sort of security system set up so I’d ask the person you’re renting from if there is anything you need to be aware of.
For those who want to spend more time in the Arenal area – one of the nicest places to visit in Costa Rica – Sky Adventures also operates a Sky Walk. This experience involves walking across a series of suspension bridges and trails, and allows travelers to be introduced to the flora and fauna of the forest canopy in a more relaxed way, and from a fresh perspective.
Costa Rica has a tropical climate, with a wet and a dry season each year on the Pacific side, and occasional showers throughout the year on the Caribbean side. Note that the Caribbean is often gorgeous in October, while this is the dreariest month on the Pacific side and in the Central Valley. Costa Rica’s weather varies wildly depending on which side of the country you’re visiting.
Kathryn, you definitely don’t need hiking boots (over the ankle) for Costa Rica. Trail runners or even just regular running shoes will suffice. The only reason why we recommend having something other than chacos, is because you will need closed toe shoes for some activities like ziplining, horseback riding, etc. Parts of San Jose can be a bit dangerous, so depending on where you are staying running alone may not be the best idea, but outside of San Jose it’s pretty safe, especially during the day. Hope you enjoy your time in CR!
Located in Alajuela, the Territory of Strays is a rather unique dog shelter, which has been established in response to the vast number of stray dogs that roamed the streets of Costa Rica. Animal euthanasia is a criminal offence in Costa Rica and although several animal shelters take in stray dogs, most mixed breeds will never be adopted. At Territory of the Strays one enlightened veterinarian hit upon the idea of advertising one-of-a-kind unique breeds of dogs with invented names, which were suddenly far more attractive than simple mongrels. Adoptions increased dramatically and now the shelter arranges mountain hikes, where the public can go walking with hundreds of stray dogs.
The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó, at 3,819 metres (12,530 ft); it is the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano (3,431 m or 11,257 ft) and the largest lake is Lake Arenal. There are 14 known volcanoes in Costa Rica, and six of them have been active in the last 75 years. The country has also experienced at least ten earthquakes of magnitude 5.7 or higher (3 of magnitude 7.0 or higher) in the last century.