Costa Rica

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About

  • Costa Rica is a Central American nation, located between Nicaragua and Panama.
  • The country is divided into the seven provinces of San José, Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Limón.
  • Geographically, the country can be divided into four regions: the highlands, the Pacific coast, the Caribbean coast and the tropical rainforest. The highlands consist of a mountain chain that runs through the center of Costa Rica from Nicaragua to Panama. The west coast borders the Pacific Ocean, The east coast runs along the Caribbean Sea. The tropical rainforest is found in the lowlands on either side of the mountain chain.
  • Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.25% of the world’s landmass, it contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity.
  • From lush rainforest to paradise on tropical beaches to active volcanoes, the country offers a variety of interesting destinations.
  • San José, the capital, is located in a highland valley in central Costa Rica called the Meseta Central.
  • Most of the country’s population is located in San Jose.

 

HISTORY

  • Costa Rica was inhabited by an estimated 400,000 Indians when Columbus explored it in 1502.
  • The Spanish conquest began in 1524.
  • Costa Rica achieved independence in 1821 but was absorbed for two years by Agustín de Iturbide in his Mexican empire. It became a republic in 1848.
  • The 1970s, rising oil prices, falling international commodity prices, and inflation hurt the economy.
  • José Maria Figueres Olsen of the National Liberation Party became president in 1994.
  • In 2000, Costa Rica and Nicaragua resolved a long-standing dispute over navigation of the San Juan River, which forms their shared border.


FACTS

    • Costa Ricans refer to themselves as Ticos (males) or Ticas (females)
    • The national bird is the clay-colored robin, and the Guanacaste is the national tree. The national flower is the guaria morada an orchid.
    • There are more than 121 volcanic formations in Costa Rica, and seven of them are active
    • More than 25% of Costa Rica’s land is dedicated to national parks, reserves and wildlife refuges. There are more than 100 different protected areas to visit.
    • A soda is a small, informal restaurant that serves traditional meals like chicken, rice, beans and salad for $2- $3 a plate.
    • A pulperia is a neighborhood store that sells essential foods like canned goods, eggs, milk, bread and some produce.
    • Bananas and coffee are the two primary agricultural exports from Costa Rica.
    • The most popular sport is soccer.
    • It boasts one of the world’s highest life expectancy rates at 77 years.
    • People from many other countries travel to it explicitly for receiving quality, low cost health care

Avg. Costs

Capuchin Monkey

  • Moderate priced sit down dinner (salad, main course, wine) 15-20 US per person
  • BK combo with chips and pop – 3850 CRC
  • Coke/Water 400-450 CRC, Coke on the beach 1000 CRC
  • Average meal cost 2000 CRC
  • McDs meal average cost 3000 CRC
  • The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, entrance 15-25 US
  • Barra Honda National Park, entrance 7 US
  • Southern Nicoya Peninsula Surf Sessions start at 60 US per person

 

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Currency

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Safety

  • The emergency number in Costa Rica is 911.
  • Traffic in Costa Rica is dangerous, so be careful. Pedestrians in general do not have the right of way. Roads in rural areas may also tend to have many potholes. Driving at night is not recommended.
  • Buses and bus stops – especially those destined for San Jose – are frequent locations for robbery
  • Like any other tourist destination, watch out for pickpockets.
  • Purse snatchings, armed robberies and car-jackings have been on the rise lately. Stay alert and protect your valuables at all times, especially in the San Jose area.

 

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Cloud Forest Hanging Bridge

Climate

Mount Arenal Volcano

  • Because Costa Rica is located between nine to ten degrees north of the Equator, the climate is tropical year round.
  • There is no winter or summer
  • Most regions have a rainy season from May to November and a dry season from December to April
  • Annual rainfall averages 100 inches nationwide with some mountainous regions getting as much as 25 feet on exposed eastern slopes.
  • Temperature is more an issue of elevation than location with a mean of around 72 degrees in the Central Valley, 82 degrees on the Atlantic coast and 89 degrees on the Pacific coast.

Places to See

Rainforest Tram

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve

  • Known undisputed as one of the most diverse wildlife refuges in the world
  • One of the most visited areas in the country of Costa Rica.
  • The ranges of animals that call Monteverde home include over 100 mammalian species, 400 species of birds and thousands upon thousands of insect species.
  • The plant kingdom is also well represented, featuring 2,500 species, 420 of which are orchid variations.



 

 

Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano National Park

  • Long thought to be a dormant volcano, the Arenal Volcano erupted in 1968 and has been active since then.
  • The most active volcano in the country of Costa Rica.
  • A number of Costa Rica hotels in the area are situated so as to provide magnificent views of the volcano.
  • Rainforest and cloud forest cover most of the Arenal Volcano National Park, offering fantastic flora and fauna examples, some of which are seen nowhere else on Earth.
  • There are a number of marked hiking trails that wind through the park and lead to lookout spots and different points of interest.
  • Near the volcano there is a visitor center where restrooms, a souvenir store, an auditorium and an exhibition hall can be found.

 

 

 

Tortuguero National Park

  • Only reachable by boat or airplane, the Tortuguero National Park is still one of the most visited parks in Costa Rica.
  • The main reason for visiting Tortuguero National Park is the turtles.
  • Hawksbill, leatherback and Green Sea turtles nest and lay their eggs on the beaches in the area.
  • The majority of egg laying happens at night, and since the park closes at 6:00 p.m., you will have to arrange a night visit with a tour guide in order to experience this unforgettable phenomenon.

 

 

 

Barra Honda National Park

  • The cave systems in the Barra Honda National Park are amongst the best in the world.
  • Unlike the rest of northern Costa Rica, the rock under and around Barra Honda is limestone.
  • The small mountains of the park have been cut by water to form an amazing system of more than 40 limestone caverns.
  • The tropical dry forest surrounding the caves is one of the rarest ecosystems on the planet.

 

 

 

Poás Volcano National Park

  • Located 47 kilometers (29 miles) from San Jose
  • The trails that provide visitors with a chance to experience the volcano and the surrounding park are well maintained and have fairly low difficulty levels.
  • The crater overlook trail starts at the visitor center and is only about a 15-minute walk in each direction.

Etiquette

Communication Etiquette:
• Very punctual – expected to be on time for appointments
• Titles are important and included on business cards
– Have them in both English and Spanish
• Politics are freely discussed because it is stable there
– Other good topics are children, art, history
– Bad topics are personal criticism and religion
• Bring flowers, chocolate, scotch or wine if invited to a dinner at the home
• They are indirect communicators
• Tend to stand fairly close to one another when talking
– Arms length or less is normal for friends

Business Etiquette:
• Everyone is expected to be on time to a business lunch
– They do not take long breaks
• The handshake is a common greeting
• Dress is formal
– Men, formal business clothes, suit and tie in conservative colors – keep jacket on at all times
– Women, stylish business suits or dresses and matching shoes – best to avoid clothing that is too revealing
• Sustain eye contact during conversation
• Value relationship, so avoid hard selling practices

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