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COSTA RICA FACTS
Costa Rica is on United States Central Standard Time and does not observe daylight savings.
A tropical country with two seasons, where its temperatures vary little since the main influence on temperature is the altitude. Average temperatures in the Central Valley area are 70°/75° F. (20-25°C.) and along the coasts it may vary from 75° to 95° (27-36° C.) The dry season begins in middle November and ends at the end of April. The rainy season begins in May throughout October approximately. During the month of July there is a dry season or “Indian Summer” of about 2 weeks, our grandparents popularly called “Veranillo de San Juan” (San Juan’s little summer). September and October are the driest months on the Caribbean Coast. So if you are planning on coming during this time of the year, make sure to spend some time on the Caribbean side.
The official currency is the “Colón”, named after Christopher Columbus. However U.S dollars are widely accepted. Currency can be exchanged at hotels, banks and at the international airports. The currency rate fluctuates daily and can be check at the local newspapers. Most of credit cards are accepted by businesses, the most common are: Visa, Master Card, Amex, and Diners Club. Please note that some small businesses located in remote areas could only take cash or travelers checks. Traveller’s checks can be cashed at any bank around the country.
It won’t be difficult to stay in touch with your family, business and check the world news since the country has an advanced telecommunications system. Public telephones, fax machines, Internet Cafes, cable/satellite T.V. around the country.
A 10% tip + sales tax (13%) is included in restaurants bills; but we feel this is a personal decision based on your judgment about the service provided to you. For instance you can tip waiters, hotel maids, bellboys, airport luggage handlers $5 to $10.
Health Care & Water:
Costa Rica has a very good health care system and its sanitary standards are high. Public hospitals and private clinics can be found in San Jose and around the country. Most of the hotels have a resident doctor or paramedic. If not, they have the contact number of a local doctor in the area. There is no need on taking medications or vaccinations for Malaria, Dengue or other tropical diseases. These medications cause side effects that can make you feel sick during your trip. Our recommendation would be to buy a good insect repellent while you are here and apply it to both skin and clothing. The most effective repellents are those containing N,N-diethylmetatoluamide (DEET). Most of the cities/towns in the country have potable water and in very remote areas it is recommended to buy bottled water.
Electricity in Costa Rica is 110-120 Volts, alternating at 60 cycles per second. If you travel to Costa Rica with a device that does not accept 120 Volts at 60 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter. Outlets in Costa Rica generally accept 1 type of Flat blade plug. If your appliances plug has a different shape, you may need a plug adapter.
On the map it seems that you could cross Costa Rica from coast to coast easily, but unfortunately this is not the case. In spite of the efforts of the administrations thru the years to develop a better infrastructure on roads some are not in the best conditions. One of our goals designing a customized journey is to take advantage of your time in the country and with our expertise recommend the best transportation ways to get around the country trying to make it not too tiring nor frustrating for you.
The “Ticos” (Costa Ricans):
The nickname “Ticos” come from our accustomed form of using diminutive words in our daily conversations. For instance, if we would like to ask for a small amount of coffee in a cup we would say “un poquitico de café”. Open your ears and perhaps you will notice the “tico” sound in some words….But in general we are friendly, hospitable, helpful and peace lovers’ product of living in one of the oldest and most stable democracies in Latin America. We have a public education system since 1869 giving us one of the highest literacy rates in the world of 96.2 %. And our life expectancy is between 72-76 years thanks to the socialized medical system. Our ethnic origins are a blend of native inhabitants, Europeans and Afro-Caribbean immigrants and we all share different cultural life styles. Don’t be surprised if you are invited by a Costa Rican family to see their home, farm, and even share “un poquitico de café”…
A Peaceful Country:
In the Western Hemisphere, Costa Rica is the only country without an army or military of any kind.
Situated in the Central American isthmus, immediately north of Panama, with ports in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and 153 highway miles between them.
Costa Ricans have a life expectancy of 76 years.
The Costa Rican Social Security Service is intended to cover 100% of the population. Currently 90% of the inhabitants are members and the rest are covered by the federal government.
Due to its geographical location, Costa Rica bridges the northern and southern most points of the two American contents. This makes Costa Rica the meeting point of a variety of cultures and a density of plant and animal species said to be unlike any other country in the world. Population: 4.0 million (figure taken in year 2000) Men: 49,86% – Women: 50,14%
- Density: 203.5 inhabitants per square mile
- Life Expectancy: 76.1 years
- Literacy Rate: 96.2%
- Student Population: (primary and secondary) 889,306
- Educational Institutions: 6147 primary and secondary schools
- Education Expenditures: US $980 M (200), or 6.25% of the GDP. Minimum fixed by law at 6% of GDP.
- Population Receiving Piped Water: 99%
- Public Health Services Coverage: 90.4% of population
- Health Expenditures: 27.8% of government total
- Access to Telephone Service: 92% of population
- Area: 51,000 square kilometers (19,652 sq. miles)
- Country Capital: San José
- Major Metropolitan Center: San José (1 M)
- Government: Constitutional
- Languages Spoken: Spanish and English
- Habitat: Ranges from humid lowland jungles to arid bare mountain peaks.
- Length of the Pacific Coastline: 640 miles
- Length of the Caribbean Coastline: 132 miles
- Highest Point: Mount Chirripó
- Hundreds of Birds:Costa Rica has approximately 850 bird species, 600 of which are non-migratory. The other birds migrate during the North American winter, making a stop in Costa Rica before continuing on to South America.
- Plant Species: 9000
- Insect Species: 34,000
- Mammalian Species: 205
- Reptilian Species: 220
- Amphibian Species: 160
Plethora of Protected Land:
Costa Rica is among the countries with the highest amount of protected land in the world; 25% of the national territory is dedicated to the national park system or biological, marine and land reserves, as well as other natural wildlife areas.
The best tourist beaches in Costa Rica have been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag which ensures hygienic/sanitary conditions and proper management.
The tectonic plates under Costa Rica shift from time to time, creating anywhere from 2 to 40 earthquakes in a month’s time. These tremors are usually rather slight and barely noticeable. Occasionally one will be a little stronger, registering around 5 on the Richter scale, doing little damage other than shaking your feelings of security.
Costa Rica has a Sustainable Tourism Certification (STC) program; its goal is to classify and certify tourism companies based on how well their operations match a sustainability model.
A valid passport is required from citizens from different countries to enter the country. Make sure that your passport will not expire within 3 months from the day you are planning to enter the country. You will be permitted to stay for up to 30 or 90 days without a VISA. Some countries that do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Japan, Jamaica, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago,United States of America (USA). For further information please contact the Costa Rican Embassy or Consulate in your country.
Booking your flight:
There are several airlines that have daily flights to San José (SJO), the capital of the country. Another International Airport is located in the city of Liberia (LIR), at the Province of Guanacaste, near the most popular beach destinations on the Northern Pacific Coast.
The following airlines serve Costa Rica from different cities across North, South America and Europe:
- Taca Airlines www.taca.com
- Copa Airlines www.copaair.com
- Aeroméxico www.aeromexico.com
- Iberia www.iberia.com
- American Airlines www.aa.com
- Continental Airlines www.continental.com
- Delta Airlines www.delta.com
- US Airways www.usairways.com
- Frontier Airlines www.frontierairlines.com
- Spirit Airlines www.spiritair.com
- Jet Blue www.jetblue.com
- Air Canada www.aircanada.com
- For domestic flights and boat transfers the usually weight allowed per person is 25-30 pounds. Excess luggage can be left at your base hotel in San Jose and we can arrange to have it ready on your next destination.
- Most of the hotels/lodges offer laundry services at affordable prices.