Costa Rica is a unique country, small in size – comparable to West Virginia – and just over four million in population, renowned for its wildlife, natural beauty, and exciting eco-adventures, but there is so much more to recommend it.
Costa Rica has been one of the most politically and economically stable countries in Central America since its birth in the 19th century. Known for being the oldest democracy in Latin America, Costa Rica abolished its armed forces in its 1949 constitution, and the world’s only University for Peace was established by treaty in 1980.
Costa Rica’s developing infrastructure is balanced by green energy such as wind and hydro. One of the world’s most biodiverse countries, with half a million species – from insects to the giant anteaters that devour them – it also protects one-quarter of its wild lands through law. Costa Rica has been on the leading edge of Central and South American countries in attracting and providing sustainable eco-tourism.
- Official Language: Spanish
- Currency: Colon (but many prices are noted in US dollars)
- Area: 19,700 square miles; 288 miles long & 170 miles wide
- Bordered by Nicaragua (north) and Panama (south), Atlantic Ocean (west) and Caribbean Sea (east)
- Capital: San Jose
- The People: are referred to as “Ticos”
The “Wild Life” and the Wildlife
Costa Rica offers a satisfying selection of outdoor adventures – from the adrenaline rush of canopy ziplines, rappelling, surfing and whitewater rafting, to enjoying a scenic morning on the links or a sun-dazed afternoon at the beach. National parks allow visitors to glimpse life in both rainforest and cloud forest, bubbling volcanoes offer otherworldly vistas.
The wildlife abounds: toucans ogle you from treetops as scarlet macaws raucously screech. Look closely for a sloth on a branch or the eyes of a crocodile breaking the surface of a river, while your ears can’t miss the eerie cries of a howler monkey. Butterflies flit amid orchid-festooned trees, while colorful tropical fish, sharks, rays, dolphins and whales thrive offshore, offering enjoyment of water activities such as kayaking, fishing, scuba, snorkeling, paddle-boarding and more.
Studies have shown that many Costa Ricans live longer, healthier lives than people on the rest of the planet, and it all comes down to pura vida (pure life), a term you’ll hear everywhere. It means hello, goodbye, everything’s cool, same to you. It never has a negative connotation. You may enter the country not believing it, but after a week you’ll be saying it, too, unconsciously: pura vida, mae. Relax and enjoy the ride.