About Costa Rica

An introduction to the Country, its Land and People

Background

Costa Rica has a long history of success & independence with a rich cultural tradition. Costa Rica gained it’s Independence from Spain in 1821 and celebrates this day on Sept. 15th. The constitution was written in 1949 and has many concepts borrowed from the US constitution.

Historically Costa Rica has relied on an agricultural economy who in the last two decades has vastly broadened its technology and tourism sectors.

The standard of living is much higher in Costa Rica than in surrounding countries. Land ownership is widespread and demonstrates a growing middle class and social stability throughout the country.

Geography

Costa Rica is nestled in the southern end of the Central American Isthmus, bordering Nicaragua to the North and Panama to the South. The entire Western Coast offers a long expanse of pristine coastline along the deep blue Pacific Ocean. On the Eastern coast you will find yourself on the white sand beaches, crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. The territory has an area of about 51,000 square kilometers and a population of 5 million.

Costa Rica is world renowned for its diversity in climate, plant and animal life. This abundance of flora and fauna compliments the majestic natural scenic beauty of the country. The long coastlines have numerous virgin beaches that alternate with rocky points that divide each bay as you move along the coastal terrain. Costa Rica has been noted for its efforts in preserving the natural beauty of the country with a well developed national park system and a long list of biological conservation programs that protect over 25% of the country’s surface.

The terrain has been sculpted by ages of volcanic activity and there are several famous active volcanoes in the central regions. The country is mainly mountainous in the Central Valley and levels out as you move towards the coastal areas. In these lower areas there are numerous rivers and streams that serve to relieve that enormous amount of rain that can occur in the rainy season.

Costa Rica has made use of their abundant natural resources and hydro-electric plants generate a majority of the power.

Climate

The climate varies between lush tropical conditions throughout the country during the rainy season  and sub-tropical and much dryer conditions during the months of December to April. The climate also varies drastically as the Central Valley and more elevated mountains have a much more mild climate than that which is found in the coastal and lower lying communities. Costa Rica’s year round climate is pleasant with naturally occurring breezes cooling down most of the coastal areas. Temperatures in the highlands and the mountains are warm by day and brisk at night, giving an “eternal spring” feeling. The average annual temperatures range from 31.7C (89F) on the coast to 16.7C (62F) inland. The rainy, or “green season” lasts from approximately May through November with a 99% chance of dry weather during the rest of the year. The intensity of the wet season varies greatly year to year and is especially affected by El Niño (brings dry weather) and La Niña (brings wet weather) weather patterns.

Provinces of Cost Rica

Exports

The main exports are coffee, bananas, sugar; pineapples; textiles, electronic components, medical equipment and imports are raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum. Their main trading partner is the US which accounts for roughly 50% of the imports and exports.

Economy

Costa Rica’s economy is heavily dependent upon tourism, agriculture and the technology sectors. The economy is stable and the production of textile and general goods is increasing at a rapid rate to meet the needs of this growing nation. The incredible bio-diversity of the land creates an abundance many natural resources. You don’t have to drive very far in Costa Rica, past the coffee, pastures, bananas and other crops, to realize that agriculture is the basis of its economy. Coffee has historically been the country’s most important crop, and Costa Rica continues to produce some of the finest coffee in the world. Bananas are the second most important export crop, with vast plantations covering parts of the Caribbean lowlands, there is also significant land dedicated to the cultivation of pineapples, sugar, oranges, rice, hardwoods and ornamental plants, as well as raising cattle for beef and dairy products.Foreign investors have always been attracted to Costa Rica because of the country’s economic and political stability.

Language

The official Language is Spanish and the Costa Rican dialect is distinct from other Spanish speaking countries. The school system encourages all students to study English and boasts a higher literacy rate than the United Sates! It is often not-surprising that many have mastered the English language.

Currency

The colone is the official currency. Exchanging US dollars is quite easy and US currency is accepted nearly anywhere in the country. It is always a good idea to know the correct exchange rate but most exchanges are honest and fair.

Population/Ethnic Makeup

Ticos, as Costa Ricans are commonly known, are a fairly mixed bunch. Though the majority of the country’s 4.5 million inhabitants are the descendants of Spanish immigrants, many families originated from other parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and, of course, Central America. You may be surprised by the number of fair-skinned people you’ll see in the country, especially in the Central Valley. In the lowlands, more people are mestizo: a mixture of European and Indigenous blood, whereas the majority along the Caribbean coast are of African lineage, and much of the Talamanca Mountain Range is inhabited by full-blooded Indians of various tribes.

Religion

The Costa Rican Constitution protects ones right to religious freedom. The official religion is Roman Catholic.

Government

The government of Costa Rica is a democratic republic with a Legislative, Executive and Judicial branch. The government of Costa Rica can be praised in many ways. Here is some notable achievements:

1821: Costa Rica establishes the what is to become the longest standing peaceful democracy in Latin America.

1869: Education is declared free and obligatory for all citizens.

1882: Capital punishment is abolished.

1949: Armed forces disbanded.

1983: A State Of Perpetual Neutrality proclaimed.

1996: Costa Rica was awarded the nobel price for peace.

2003: Several prestigious international human rights organizations are headquartered in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is a diplomatic, peaceful country with no standing military. Costa Rica has been fortunate to have never had a single war or major political turmoil. It is considered by many political experts to be the most stable country in Central America and among the elite of Latin America.An impressive public healthcare system and strong emphasis on education (CR is the most literate of all Latino countries) have resulted in a happy, affluent culture.Like in most developing nations, there is a degree of unrest with the political corruption and shortage of strict law enforcement, but by and large Costa Rica is a country whose people are proud of and quite content with their political leadership.

Communications

There are numerous post offices spread throughout the country. The public phone system works well and international calls are easily made collect or with phone cards.  Comminications in Costa Rica has undergone rapid improvement in recent years. Phone service, cell phone services, internet access, Dish Network and Direct TV are all now readily available in ever expanding areas. High speed access is available in many areas of San Jose and surrounding municipalities and is rapidly expanding its service area.

Health & Medicine

CIMA is a new high tech hospital with state of the art equipment, located in Escazu, a suburb of San Jose. There are regional hospitals and smaller clinics in many parts of the country.

Transportation

Costa Rica has 2 international airports: Juan Santa María Airport in Alajuela, near San José and the Liberia International Airport in the Guanacaste (Northern) province.

The main form of public transportation in the country is the bus system. This is a cost efficient and punctual way in which you can travel around the country.

Charter air services are readily available in many of these airports and many that are not listed. Private helicopter services exist as well, best place to look is the main airport. Additional airports are located in Liberia (Guanacaste) in the north region, Bejuco, Esterillos, Hermosa, Palmar Sur, Jiménez, Tamarindo, Barra del Colorado, Limón, Quepos, Golfito, Coto .. etc.

Back to Top