An eco-tourist's dream, Costa Rica has become synonymous with all an unspoiled tropical paradise can be. Rarely does reality measure up to hype, but Costa Rica certainly comes close. The country's quiet history as a backwater free of colonial excesses has today become a boon, and Costa Rica has cashed in on its purity. And not without merit: blessed with beaches and biodiversity, this is a verdant land of misty volcanoes, roaring rivers, and lush jungles teeming with exotic fauna. Throw in the friendly, educated Ticos (as Costa Ricans are known) and you can see why down here they call it Pura Vida – "pure life."
"I just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our time in Costa Rica.  We were very impressed with the tour which your organised for us.  The hotels were very good, the drivers were punctual and courteous and the guides were amazing - their knowledge and command of English was fantastic. I have already recommended your company to friends who are planning a trip to Costa Rica"
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-): This entry records the difference between national government revenues and expenditures, expressed as a percent of GDP. A positive (+) number indicates that revenues exceeded expenditures (a budget surplus), while a negative (-) number indicates the reverse (a budget deficit). Normalizing the data, by dividing the budget balance by GDP, enables easy comparisons across countries and indicates whether a national government saves or borrows money. Countries with high budget deficits (relat . . . more
Parque Nacional Guanacaste protects Costa Rica’s northernmost volcanoes, Orosi and Cacao. Like some of the other parks on this list, it encompasses a wide range of altitudes and ecosystems: from the Pacific dry forests near sea level to the premontane cloud forests above 3,000 feet, to the true cloud forests above 5,000 feet or so. It’s well worth the $10-per-adult price of admission.
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.
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.
Located in the heart of Santa Elena, the Monteverde Orchid Garden offers visitors the chance to feast their eyes on a huge collection of over 460 species of orchids against the backdrop of their natural forest habitats. The collection is on display all year round and regardless of when you visit you can be assured that at least a quarter of the collection will be in flower. You can join a guided tour in either English or Spanish, which will introduce you to the history of the magnificent blooms and teach you how to care for them at home. The garden boasts wide paved pathways that are wheel-chair and push-chair friendly so that everyone can come and enjoy the beautiful collection.
English was more prevalent in the touristy areas we visited, notably the northwestern beaches and the Monteverde area. We had the most trouble in the least touristy areas. In Tilaran, the couple who ran our hotel relied for English-language help entirely on a younger employee who’d previously worked at a call center. The Rincon de la Vieja area was more remote than Tilaran, of course, but our resort catered mostly to English-speaking tourists and most staff communicated accordingly.

Driving at night is highly inadvisable, due to the unpredictability of road conditions and lack of safety features such as guard rails on the many hairpin turns in the hills. To put safety in perspective, Costa Rica's per capita traffic death rate is comparable to that of the United States, but there are undeniably many hazards, and they are likely to be unfamiliar ones.
Another easy way to get around Costa Rica is to use the services of mini-vans. At most of the hotels, the receptionist is able to assist travelers who want to travel across the country by arranging for the services of a driver. Rates are reasonable (USD29 per person, for example, to get from San Jose to Tamarindo in April 2007) The drivers know the roads well; the vans are clean and comfortable; and they take you from door to door.
Environment - current issues: This entry lists the most pressing and important environmental problems. The following terms and abbreviations are used throughout the entry: Acidification - the lowering of soil and water pH due to acid precipitation and deposition usually through precipitation; this process disrupts ecosystem nutrient flows and may kill freshwater fish and plants dependent on more neutral or alkaline conditions (see acid rain). Acid rain - characterized as containing harmful levels of sulfur dioxi . . . more
The La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the top waterfalls to visit in Costa Rica. There are multiple ways to get to the hiking trail, one being via horseback, where you will then walk down 500 steps to the basin of the waterfall; La Fortuna Waterfall is 230 feet (70 meters) high! The raw power of this waterfall is mesmerizing. After hiking down, you can swim in the pool beneath the cascade of water, which is an incredible experience in and of itself. The surrounding forest is stunning and it is likely that you will see toucans, butterflies, monkeys, and sloths.
* The "Starting at" or listed price is based on the lowest price available to book. Price is per passenger based on double occupancy and does not include airfare; additional fees/charges are not included. If a price is crossed out, the new price shown includes a limited time promotional offer(s) – please review current promotions or deals for additional information. Some tours require intra-vacation flights (and in some cases intra-vacation segments must be purchased from Globus).
At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.
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.
Cano Island is a protected marine park, with fishing prohibited for three miles around it. The harvesting of marine life and collection of shells is also against the law. As such, the waters are full of coral, fish, and other sea creatures such as reef sharks, sting rays, turtles, and eels, making it one of Costa Rica points of interest for marine life.
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 [5] 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).
Beaches in Costa Rica are laid back and lovely. Swim, snorkel and even scuba dive in the turquoise waters. Other more adventurous activities you can enjoy on your Costa Rica tour are hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, canoeing and river rafting. Canopy tours are fun ways to get aerial views of the rainforest. And for those who like to pamper themselves on vacation, at some Costa Rican resorts, you can soak in natural healing hot mineral pools or try a mud massage.
Leave the crowds and enjoy the splendor of the tropical jungle at Cristal Azul Ocean-View Villas. The remote location allows guests to experience true Costa Rica as it once was before the crowds arrived. Guests will enjoy sea kayaking, zip lining, yoga or even visit a Macaw Sanctuary. Take in the pure simplicity and stunning surroundings of the Nicoya Peninsula. Those who prefer to stay off the beaten path will fall in love with Cristal Azul Resort.
On 10 September 1961, some months after Fidel Castro declared Cuba a socialist state, Costa Rican President Mario Echandi ended diplomatic relations with Cuba through Executive Decree Number 2. This freeze lasted 47 years until President Óscar Arias Sánchez re-established normal relations on 18 March 2009, saying, "If we have been able to turn the page with regimes as profoundly different to our reality as occurred with the USSR or, more recently, with the Republic of China, how would we not do it with a country that is geographically and culturally much nearer to Costa Rica?" Arias announced that both countries would exchange ambassadors.[119]
Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast invites you to indulge in its reggae vibe, spicy food, and lively steel drum music for a colorful cultural experience. You’ll find flat, sandy beaches, turquoise waters, surf breaks, and swaying palms amid lush rainforests ideal for surfing, snorkeling, swimming, or swinging in a hammock. Inland, you can visit indigenous farms practicing old methods of natural sustainability, visit waterfalls, hike the Talamanca mountains, and find a host of adventure activities.
Hospital bed density: This entry provides the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people; it serves as a general measure of inpatient service availability. Hospital beds include inpatient beds available in public, private, general, and specialized hospitals and rehabilitation centers. In most cases, beds for both acute and chronic care are included. Because the level of inpatient services required for individual countries depends on several factors - such as demographic issues and the burden of disease - there is . . . more

Costa Rica is an active member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the United Nations University of Peace are based in Costa Rica. It is also a member of many other international organizations related to human rights and democracy, such as the Community of Democracies. A main foreign policy objective of Costa Rica is to foster human rights and sustainable development as a way to secure stability and growth.[118]


Population growth rate: The average annual percent change in the population, resulting from a surplus (or deficit) of births over deaths and the balance of migrants entering and leaving a country. The rate may be positive or negative. The growth rate is a factor in determining how great a burden would be imposed on a country by the changing needs of its people for infrastructure (e.g., schools, hospitals, housing, roads), resources (e.g., food, water, electricity), and jobs. Rapid population growth can be seen as . . . more
We’ve never received a consistent response to the question: “How long must my passport be valid to travel to Costa Rica?” The official answer is “for the duration of your stay in the country.” We’ve heard reports, however, of airlines refusing boarding to anyone with less than 30 days, 90 days, or six months remaining before their passports expire. We recommend you err on the side of caution. Before you travel to Costa Rica, renew your passport if you’re getting down to the six-month mark. (That’s the requirement for entry to many countries anyway.)
For a place to unwind and enjoy Costa Rica’s natural wonders, visit Arenal Kioro. The property sits perched on a hilltop resulting in extravagant views of Arenal Volcano’s summit and the valley below. Two natural streams wind around the grounds providing a tranquil atmosphere. There are 7 hot springs present complete with hydro massage features for guests to enjoy. The on site spa treatments will rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit with a day filled with pampering. Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa provides first class service to those visiting La Fortuna.
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.[39]
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