19,730 square miles (51,100 square kilometers), Costa Rica is the
southernmost county of Central America,. It is bordered by Nicaragua
on the North and Panamá on the South, the Pacific Ocean to
the West, and the Caribbean Sea to the East. Both coasts, especially
the Pacific, feature excellent beaches. The population is approximately
Rica has some of the most interesting geography in Central America,
including spectacularly beautiful rain and cloud forests in the
central and south, the active Arenal volcano, secluded beaches,
and the lush, winding tropical deltas of the Caribbean, making it
the region’s number one tourist destination.
of its large tropical areas, Costa Rica contains a wide variety
of animal life that includes uncounted species of insects, exotic
birds and reptiles, and many intriguing mammals.
San José, situated in the central valley 3,000 to 5,000 feet
(900 to 1,500 m) above sea level, has a population of a million
and a quarter. The central valley is also home to the cities of
Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago. Other important urban centers are
Puntarenas, on the Bay of Nicoya; Limón, on the Caribbean
coast; and Liberia in Costa Rica’s northern Guanacaste Province.
than half of Costa Rica’s population live in and in the immediate
vicinity of the central valley. The prevailing religion is Roman
Catholic (also the official state religion). Most Costa Ricans claim
Spanish ancestry, although many are of mixed European, indigenous
and black origin. There is a sizeable Afro-Caribbean population,
the descendants of people brought from the West Indies to work on
the railways and banana plantations on the Caribbean coast. A few
thousand American Indians are left in the far south.
Rica does not turn its clock back or forward. So during Standard
Time in the USA and Canada, Costa Rica’s time corresponds to U.S.
Central Time. During the summer Daylight Savings period, the local
time corresponds to U.S. Mountain Time.
Costa Rica, ‘summer’ is considered to be between December and May.
It is warm, sunny and dry, with daytime temperatures in San José
hovering in the low 80s (30 degrees Centigrade) Fahrenheit. On both
coasts, the temperatures can be 10 degrees Fahrenheit (5-6 degrees
Centigrade) warmer. Nights are cool and refreshing, in the upper
60s and low 70s (18-22 degrees Centigrade). Light summer clothes
are advisable, and it’s always best to bring a sweater for the evenings.
The ‘green season’
(rainy) begins at the end of May, and lasts through mid-December,
with an ‘Indian summer’ in July. At the beginning of the season,
most mornings and evenings are clear, with rains only in the afternoon.
Heaviest rains are in September, October and November. For tourists
coming during this period, summer clothing is advisable, with an
extra light windbreaker, and remember to bring an umbrella.
language and means of communication in Costa Rica is Spanish, and
almost all the country’s Afro-Caribbean population speaks English
as well. Many of the indigenous population use their own languages
among themselves, although it is only recently that the government
has moved to preserve and encourage these languages. English is
spoken throughout the travel industry.
and Canadian citizens require a valid passport, although U.S. citizens
can enter with an original birth certificate (raised seal) and another
piece of identification bearing a photo and signature (i.e. driver’s
licence). The period is three months. A $17.00 (USD) exit tax is
charged upon your departure from Costa Rica.
Rica’s currency is the colón. Coin denominations are 1, 2,
5, 10, 20, 25, 50 and 100 colones. Notes come in 50, 100, 500, 1,000,
2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 colones.
exchange (February 22, 2001) is approximately 320 colones to the
U.S. Dollar. Devaluation of the colón is about 18% annually.
Exchange dollars at a bank. Travellers, no matter where they come
from, are strongly advised to bring U.S. dollars in small denominations;
banks and others will charge heavy premiums exchanging all other
national currencies. Of the major credit cards, VISA is the most
widely accepted. U.S. Dollars are accepted by all hotels and major
same as in the United States and Canada: 110 volts.
vaccinations are required. The tap water in practically all areas
is potable, but those with weak stomachs are advised to drink bottled
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