Costa Rica

Introduction

Rich Coasts, breathtaking food, a wide range in weather, recreation, and culture; a secure government, overall religious freedom, a patriotic and prosperous history, and harmony with its surrounding countries– this is a modest portrayal of Costa Rica.  The wonders of Costa Rica abound in nearly every aspect:  in it’s geography, people, politics, reputation, flora and fauna, and climate.  It’s more than the “Little Switzerland of Central America” and its richness goes far beyond its coasts–grasping the full concept of Costa Rica is an adventure!  Brace yourself for a marvelous experience…

In General

With Nicaragua to the north, the North Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean to the east, and Panama to the south, Costa Rica is surrounded by a variety of opportunities that introduce the foreigner to its inside wonders. Sprinkled with rain forests, mountains and valleys, waterfalls, a variety of animals, and seven volcanoes, this small country is a magnet for those in search of a natural paradise. In each province the weather is different–ranging from cold temperatures of less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit to hot temperatures of over 110 degrees. Made up of seven different provinces, the “Little Switzerland of Central America” has a population of over 4.5 million people, mostly from Spanish decent. The literacy rate is 97%, the highest in all of Central America. In addition, 70% of the “ticos” (as Costa Ricans call themselves) claim Roman Catholicism as their religion.  Soccer is the main sport with cycling, swimming, volleyball, and basketball following in popularity. In 1949 Costa Rica abolished it’s army and has remained without one ever since–because of its harmonious relationship with the world, the need for an army has never presented itself. In fact, because of its neutrality, Costa Rica is a center for many political events and a haven for people in search of freedom, safety, and peace. One of its previous presidents, Oscar Arias, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 and is considered one of Costa Rica’s best presidents (he was elected twice non-consecutively). Costa Rica’s main sources of income are provided by the exportation of coffee, banana, pineapple and other products and the tourism services it offers.

Interesting Facts

In 2009, Costa Rica was ranked number one in the world and Latin America for the “Happy Planet Index;” in 2008, number five in the world (number one in Latin America) for its environmental performance; for its press freedom in Latin America it was ranked number three; and in 2009 for travel and tourism competitiveness, it has been ranked 42nd in the world among 133 different countries, and number one in Latin America. Among 162 countries, Costa Rica was ranked 49th for its economic freedom in 2009. Its island, “Isla del Coco” was named one of the worlds seven wonders in 2009; in addition, Costa Rica possesses the greatest density of species in the world and is home to the world’s fastest living lizard.  Perhaps the most interesting fact about this “rich coast” country is that it sells oxygen to several countries in the world, the United States included.

Opportunities

The opportunities for its people and foreigners are endless in Costa Rica. As aforementioned, Costa Rica contains seven volcanoes, some active and some not. Anyone can drive up some of the volcanoes and gaze into the craters with the peace of mind in safety and fun. Whether for research or adventure, Costa Rica’s volcanoes provide a great source for learning and research. In addition, the abundance of beaches along the coasts on both sides offers a palette for artists, a home for retirees and business men and women, a wild wave for surfers, a textbook for students, and a vacation for families. Furthermore, for students, teachers, researchers, and families, Costa Rica presents nature in its purest kind in the many rain forests, national parks, waterfalls, and caves. With its mountains and valleys, lakes, and rivers, this country is paradise for every kind of person. And for those looking for a recipient for their charity or for volunteering, Costa Rica has many opportunities in its large cities, remote indigenous towns, and busy suburbs.  This small country provides a complete package for short-term teams, volunteer groups and charity-givers.

Safety Precautions

Many tourists, when visiting a foreign country develop a mindset of either extreme relaxation or extreme paranoia. Neither should be the mindset when visiting Costa Rica: a balance of the two ideas is the wisest route to go. Crime, for one, exists in every country whether it be a third-world country or not; in addition, natural disasters occur everywhere in the world no matter how prosperous the place.  When it comes to pollution and cleanliness, Costa Rica’s water is quite safe to drink–no need to bring plane-loads of water bottles–it would be wise to ask about it when visiting extremely remote areas, however. And as mentioned before, the oxygen in Costa Rica is considered one of the purest in the world. On the other hand, a visitor can expect to feel small tremors (maybe even an earthquake) once in a while as this country lies over a geologically active area. The tremors increase in magnitude and rate with the region; and sometimes aren’t even felt by foreigners. In addition, visitors should take wise precaution, especially with the children and elderly folk, when swimming on any of the beaches as the rip currents can be particularly dangerous in Central America. Finally, the regular precautions taken with crime should be remembered when visiting.

Conclusion

Conclusively, Costa Rica is a unique country filled with diversity in every aspect; where nature is preserved, opportunity abounds, and peace finds its home.  With hospitable people, choice temperature, delicious food, political peace and freedom, and opportunities for every kind of adventure, this wonderful country offers the “pura vida” [pure life, literal translation] everyone pursues.  When it comes to places to see and people to meet, “Rich Coast” is the destination so many people are seeking.  So, in order to grasp the concept of this amazing country, join the journey and connect with the wonders of Costa Rica!