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.
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Costa Rica’s varied landscape and topography also creates thousands of microclimates. The temperature and weather can vary dramatically based on elevation and proximity to the coast, so environments from rainforests to cloudforests, jungles to mountains exist in close proximity. The varied land and climate creates a huge amount of biodiversity (over 5% of the world’s total biodiversity, in fact).
MC: Yes, don’t look at a map and decide that just because something is “close” you can cram it in to a day trip. It is roughly twenty kilometers from the heart of Santa Elena to Guacimal (down the mountain). Depending on the current condition of the road, construction, traffic and acts of God, it can be as short as 40 minutes or well over an hour each direction. Those not accustomed to driving here will also find it very draining; this is not like driving on a freeway in the U.S. using one finger to stay in your lane while talking to your friends via a Bluetooth connection. Take your time.
By the early 1990s, Costa Rica became known as the poster child of ecotourism. According to the Costa Rican Tourism Board, 46% of international tourists visiting the country in 2009 engaged in activities related to ecotourism, including trekking, flora, fauna, and bird watching, and visits to rural communities. However, most visitors look for adventure activities, which Costa Rica offers as well. Costa Rica was included by Ethical Traveler magazine in the 2011 and the 2012 list of The Developing World's 10 Best Ethical Destinations.
The Latinobarómetro survey of 2017 found that 57% of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholics, 25% are Evangelical Protestants, 15% report that they do not have a religion, and 2% declare that they belong to another religion. This survey indicated a decline in the share of Catholics and rise in the share of Protestants and irreligious. A University of Costa Rica survey of 2018 show similar rates; 52% Catholics, 25% Protestants, 17% irreligious and 3% other. The rate of secularism is high by Latin American standards.
Staying connected while in Costa Rica is really easy without paying $30-50 for a roaming plan. WiFi is fairly easy to find in touristy areas in Costa Rica. Most hotels and restaurants that cater to foreigners will have free wifi for you to use during your stay. You can call and message your family/friends back home for free on your phone over the internet using Whatsapp, Facebook, Viber, Facetime, or Skype.
One of the most popular destinations for those interested in Costa Rica’s unique cultural ambiance is the craft city of Sarchi. Set within Costa Rica’s Central Valley, this easily-accessible town is one of the best-known in the country. Traditionally, the elaborate and brightly painted oxcarts that make Sarchi famous were the only means of transportation for the coffee that makes up so much of this areas agriculture. Now, visitors delight in the abundance of small family-owned woodworking or crafting shops. Sarchi also features one of the country’s most beautiful churches, an expansive 17-acre botanical garden, and the world’s largest oxcart – crafted in 2006 in a (successful) attempt to get the town’s name in The Guinness Book of World Records!
Stock of domestic credit: This entry is the total quantity of credit, denominated in the domestic currency, provided by financial institutions to the central bank, state and local governments, public non-financial corporations, and the private sector. The national currency units have been converted to US dollars at the closing exchange rate on the date of the information.
The mysterious cloud enshrouded mountains of Monteverde offer an almost magical experience as you walk the forest floor and up into the canopy overhanging suspension bridges. Home of world-class highland species birdwatching, where birders flock to seek a glimpse of the rare Resplendent Quetzal or hear the call of the 3-Wattled Bellbird, the unique Cloud Forest also features a rich assortment of orchids and epiphytes. Thrill-seekers can choose to quench their thirst for adventure traveling at high speeds by zipline through the magnificent old growth forest over spectacular scenery. The local village of Santa Elena provides plenty of eateries, local artisan shops, museums, and galleries.
five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white elliptical disk placed toward the hoist side of the red band; Costa Rica retained the earlier blue-white-blue flag of Central America until 1848 when, in response to revolutionary activity in Europe, it was decided to incorporate the French colors into the national flag and a central red stripe was added; today the blue color is said to stand for the sky, opportunity, and perseverance, white denotes peace, happiness, and wisdom, while red represents the blood shed for freedom, as well as the generosity and vibrancy of the people
Along the pristine South Pacific Coast of Costa Rica lies an oasis that remains relatively untouched. El Castillo's preserved location offers guests a sanctuary where they can explore the diverse nature surrounding the property, experience many of the activities on site or simply relax in a slow-paced lifestyle. This boutique resort offers guests panoramic ocean views, lush jungle surroundings and is near some of Costa Rica's finest restaurants. With fewer than 10 rooms and suites, guests can expect a more intimate level of service for a truly memorable experience.
We love the chocolate tour with Rainforest Chocolate tour in La Fortuna. This tour not only teaches the history of chocolate and how chocolate is made but also allows you to eat as much fresh chocolate as you want. You can then infuse your chocolate with a variety of tasty ingredients. Yum! There are several chocolate tours throughout the country, but if you are heading to La Fortuna I recommend Rainforest Chocolate Tour.
More than the wide variety of coastal tours in Costa Rica, however, is the draw of the quality of these adventures! Costa Rica is dedicated to providing a pristine environment for thrill-seekers of any kind, and the beaches are of noticeable importance. The Blue Flag Ecological Program tracks beach cleanliness, safety, and community outreach annually – a beach that has been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag is a good bet!
Most visitors can get into Costa Rica without the need of a Visa and can stay in the country for 90 days. People of ANY nationality holding valid US, Canada, Japan, South Korea or Schengen visas do not need a prior visa. The only conditions being that the visa must be valid for 3 months and should be stamped in your passport. NOTE: on arrival, ensure you are able to show proof of onward travel out of Costa Rica, especially if entering overland! See below for further details
Pay Attention to Travel Advisories: Before you get too deep into the planning process, the check State Department’s travel advisories and adjust your itinerary accordingly. You shouldn’t have too much to worry about in Costa Rica. When we visited, only Liberia was on the State Department’s radar, and the advisory was pretty standard stuff: avoid certain areas at night, keep close watch on your valuables, and don’t expect the cops to help you. We took that advice to heart and encountered no trouble.
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.
On 1 June 2007, Costa Rica broke diplomatic ties with Taiwan, switching recognition to the People's Republic of China. Costa Rica was the first of the Central American nations to do so. President Óscar Arias Sánchez admitted the action was a response to economic exigency. In response, the PRC built a new, $100 million, state-of-the-art football stadium in Parque la Sabana, in the province of San José. Approximately 600 Chinese engineers and laborers took part in this project, and it was inaugurated in March 2011, with a match between the national teams of Costa Rica and China.
Christianity is Costa Rica's predominant religion, with Roman Catholicism being the official state religion according to the 1949 Constitution, which at the same time guarantees freedom of religion. It is the only state in the Americas which established Roman Catholicism as its state religion; other such countries are microstates in Europe: Liechtenstein, Monaco, the Vatican City and Malta.