Costa Rica General Info
Costa Rica, a small country roughly the size of west Virginia is wonderful to explore, offering the visitor two coasts with miles of beautiful beaches, and extensive national parks system covering approximately 25% of the land, and an incredible biodiversity, including tropical rain forest, dense cloud forest, and active volcanoes.
There is a wide choice of hotel accommodations throughout the country, ranging from five star hotels to quaint lodges, something to suit everybody's taste and budget. Costa Rica is easily reached from most important cities in United States, Canada, and Europe with daily flights on major Airlines. All these factors as well as Costa Rica's friendly people and peaceful democratic life style make it a favorite vacation destination.
The diversity of the tourist attractions within the country including the white sand beaches of Guanacaste, famous for its pristine waters, and a world Mecca for sportfishing. In addition to it's splendid beach resorts; then the Central Pacific Area with the popular Jaco Beach (the closest Beach to San Jose) a complete Beach resort area and the nearby Manuel Antonio National Park, also renowned for it's beautiful beaches.
The most popular destinations for nature lovers include the jungles and canals of Tortuguero National Park. Costa Rica's nine active volcanoes offer visitors a chance to see the awesome power of nature such as the Arenal Volcano; the unspoiled mountainous areas have a lot to explore as in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. All these will give a perfect opportunity to have a close up look at nature's masterpiece... Costa Rica!
Sports and adventure enthusiasts will discovers Costa Rica's mighty rivers for white water rafting and river kayaking; the marine life in the warm Pacific waters will astonish scuba divers; the mountains offer extraordinary challenges to mountain bikers, and a wide diversity of scenery for horse back riding.
Costa Rica Tourist Facts.
Language. Spanish is the official language. English is spoken in tourist areas throughout the country.
Electricity. 110-volt AC is found nationwide. A few outlying areas use their own power source so check ahead before traveling.
Water. The water is safe to drink in all areas of the country.
Currency Exchange. The official currency is the Colon and is easier to use than dollars. The currency rate fluctuates every day without notice. US dollars are accepted throughout the country, except in small villages, where local currency is required. You can exchange money at the International Airport, banks and hotels receptions.
Credit Cards and Travelers Checks. Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the country, but some smaller businesses will only accept local currency.
Time Zone. Costa Rica is the same as US Central Standard Time (GMT -6), but does not observe daylight savings time.
Business Hours. Government offices are open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Commercial offices are open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Stores and other businesses from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Banks are open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and do not close for lunch.
Churches. Like all Latin American countries, Costa Rica is predominantly Catholic, but other denominations are found throughout the country.
Climate. Costa Rica is a tropical country and experiences only two seasons: wet and dry. The dry season is generally between late December and April, and the wet season lasts the rest of the year. The Caribbean coast tends to be wet all year. Temperatures vary little between seasons, the average is 24 degrees Celsius, and the main influence on temperature is altitude. The coasts are very hot and humid, with the Caribbean averaging 21 degrees Celsius at night and over 30 degrees Celsius during the day, the Pacific is a few degrees warmer still.
Clothing. Pack light for your travels. The highland areas can be very cold, so pack a sweater if you are going there. For the lowland area light, loose-fitting shirts and pants are essential. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are recommended for the beach.
Communications. Direct-dial service is efficient and there are more telephones per capita than in any other Latin American country. Facsimiles, telex, radio Internet access and cable television is all-available throughout the country. Bilingual operator assistance for international calls is -116, Local information -113, Long distance information -124.
Hospitals. Health care in Costa Rica is very good and sanitary standards are high. First class hospitals are found throughout San Jose and some of the other largely populated areas.
Entry Requirements. Citizens from Canada, the U.S. and Panama can enter with just a tourist card and one other piece of identification, such as passport, driver's license or birth certificate. No passport is required. Citizens of all other countries require a valid passport to enter Visas are needed by certain nationalities so check ahead before traveling.
Customs. Arrivals are allowed 500 cigarettes plus three liters of wine or spirits duty free in addition to personal goods and sporting equipment.
Departure Tax. The average rate is US $ 28 to depart by air. Land and sea exits are not charged.
Taxes. There is a 13% sales tax at hotels, restaurants and most service industries, and an additional 3% tourist tax at hotels.
Tipping. A 10% tip is appropriate. Most restaurants will add the tip to your bill so read your bill before paying a tip. Other services does not include tip, as is voluntary according to services received. Taxi drivers generally do not receive a tip.
Government. Costa Rica is a democratically elected republic. One of the oldest democracies en America, and the only country in the world without an army. Elections are held every four years.
Population. Costa Rica has a population of 4 million people. Over fifty percent live in the Central Valley which comprises only 4% of the entire country.
Topography. Panama borders Costa Rica to the north by Nicaragua and to the south. It has both a Caribbean and a Pacific coast. A series of volcanic mountain chains runs from the Nicaraguan border in the northwest to the Panama border in the south east, splitting the country in two, In the center of these ranges is a high-altitude plain, with coastal lowlands on either side. Over half the population lives on this plain, which has fertile volcanic soils. The Caribbean coast is 132 miles long and Pacific coast is 635 miles long.
This site was last updated 01/01/18
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