General Information

Country local name: Republic of Costa Rica
Government type: democratic republic
Capital: San Jose
Time difference: UTC-6 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Independence: 15th September 1821 (from Spain)
National holiday: Independence Day, 15th September (1821)
Population: 4,755,234 (July 2014 est.)
Ethnic group: white or mestizo 83.6%, mulato 6.7%, indigenous 2.4%, black of African descent 1.1%, other 1.1%, none 2.9%, unspecified 2.2% (2011 est.)
Languages: Spanish (official), English
Religions: Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%
Terrain: Coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major volcanoes.
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m, highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m
Natural resources: hydropower
Agriculture – products: bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes, timber.
Industries: microprocessors, food processing, medical equipment, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
Exports: bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, electronic components, medical equipment
Shopping hours:  Shops are open Monday – Sunday from 9am to 7pm
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever (2013)
Climate: tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands
Natural hazards: occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season and landslides; active volcanoes

Costa Rica is a tropical country. The difference in temperature between winter and summer is very small. The average temperature is 22°C (72°F). It is much hotter and humid by the coast.

The best time to visit Costa Rica is in the dry season (summer), which is between mid-December and May. It does not rain anywhere in Costa Rica during this period, although there are occasional blustery northern winds in January or February.

The wet season (green season, winter) is between May and November although there are regional variations in the weather. Rain is possible in the afternoon and evening. The wettest months are June and July, particularly on the Caribbean side.

The peak time for visiting is in March, because the weather is mostly sunny and humidity is lower than at other times. December and January are also good times to visit because vegetation is still green from the rains.

One of Costa Rica’s key attractions is Volcano Arenal, which is most visible during April and May.

Costa Ricans refer to themselves as “Ticos” (males) and “ticas” (females).
·    Costa Rica’s official language is Spanish, but most of citizens are bilingual. English is the second language in Costa Rica.
It is normal that streets and addresses are without names.
Costa Rica has a 96% literacy rate.

Pura Vida! – General expression of satisfactions
Tuanis! – Too nice!
Birra – Beer
Que m’iche? – What’s up?
Mucho gusto – Thank you/Nice to meet you
Por dicha – Thank Goodness!
Al chile? – Really?
Ojo! – Watch out!
Buena nota! – Good grade
Deme un toque – Give me a momment
Suave – Take it easy!
Mae – dude
chiva, chivísima – Nice!
Choza – House
Que Lechero – be lucky
Que tigra – be lazy
Chunche – Thing
Déle! – Go ahead!

Located between two oceans and two continents, Costa Rica is set apart by the intense biodiversity on display within its borders and by its efforts to preserve these natural wonders through future development. No matter what region of Costa Rica you visit, there are unique habitats and ecosystems supporting a wide range of species. The featured nature destinations below are particularly great places for nature-enthusiasts to appreciate hiking through the forest and for travelers hoping to spot monkeys in the canopy, find rare birds tending to their nests, or see enormous whales breaching the surface of the Pacific.

Costa Rica hosts more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity even though its landmass only takes up .03% of the planet’s surface. There are more than:

  • 130 species of freshwater fish
  • 160 species of amphibians
  • 208 species of mammals
  • 220 species of reptiles
  • 850 species of birds
  • 1,000 species of butterflies
  • 1,200 varieties of orchids
  • 9,000 species of plants
  • 34,000 species of insects
  • and still counting as new species are discovered every day

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.

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