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Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country located in Central America, nominated one more time as the happiest country in the world according to the New Economics Foundation's Happy Planet Index in June 2012.

In Costa Rica contrasts and natural diversity are great. Few places of the world present, within such a small and accessible area, so many natural variants. In its length of 51,000 square kilometers, you will always find a special place to discover.

Although the country is small and it covers only 0.03 % of the surface of the globe, it proudly shelters a 5% of the existing biodiversity in the entire world. 25.58 % of the country is composed of National Parks, Biological Reserves, and National Wildlife Refuges. No other country of the world has dedicated so much of its territory to the protection of the environment conservation and natural protected territory.

One of Costa Rica's main sources of income is tourism. Costa Rica is a democratic and peaceful country, and it has not had an army since the year 1949.

Costa Rica is also an attractive country for investment and it offers great potential for the establishment of important multinational companies, thanks to the outstanding academic level of its population, as well as the high standard of modern services and social and political stability.

General Information

Official Language
The official language is Spanish. The second language for a large portion of the population is English.

Official Religion
The official religion is Catholic. Freedom of religious choice is respected.

Official Currency
Colon

National Flag & Coat of Arms
national_flag

Airports
The main airport is the Juan Santamaria International Airport, located in Alajuela (Known as San Jose Airport -SJO). This airport is only twenty minutes away from San Jose.

Other important airports are:
The Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, located in Liberia, Guanacaste.
The Tobias Bolanos Airport located in Pavas, San Jose, for local as well as international flights.

There are also landing fields for local flights situated in different parts of the country such as: Tortuguero, La Fortuna, Tamarindo, Nosara, Tambor, Punta Islita, Quepos, Palmar Norte, Drake Bay, Golfito, Puerto Jimenez and Liberia.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

A valid passport is mandatory to enter Costa Rica.

Do I need a visa to go to Costa Rica?

Depending on your country of origin you may enter Costa Rica without a visa.
USA, Canada and most European countries have this privilege.

Can I enter Costa Rica with a one way ticket?

All visitors must have an entry and exit ticket, whether it is by air or by land, as the case may be, as a requirement to entry the country.

Do I need an international driver's license to drive in Costa Rica?

You are allowed to drive with your normal driver's license for three months.

Can I get married in Costa Rica? What documents do I need?

Foreigners can get married in Costa Rica. The documents needed are:
- original birth certificate
- affidavit of single status
- police record
- valid passport
- divorce decree (if applicable)
- These documents need to follow the authentication procedure before being taken to Costa Rica.

What is the difference between the rain forest and the cloud forest?

The main difference is that in the cloud forest doesn't rain as much as in the rain forest. The species of flora and fauna that you might find differ from one to the other.

Is the water drinkable in Costa Rica?

The water is potable in most of the country. We recommend using bottled water, especially in areas around the coast.

What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The Costa Rican currency is called Colon. US dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted.

Are credit cards accepted in Costa Rica?

All major credit cards are widely accepted. You will find ATM machined distributed throughout the country.

What kind of inoculations do I have to take to Costa Rica?

Starting on July 30, 2007, the Costa Rican authorities will demand that all travelers coming from the following countries (Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador as well as the Republic of Guyana) have a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Do I need an electric adapter for a hair drier?

Outlets are 110 V, with standard US two prong plugs.

What documents are required to enter with a pet to Costa Rica?

Dogs and cats entering Costa Rica must have a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian, endorsed by a veterinarian service (VS) veterinarian. The examination for the certificate must be conducted within the two weeks prior to traveling to Costa Rica. The required vaccinations are: distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and rabies (for animals 4 months or older).

How much is he departure tax?

Departure tax is US$28.00, can be paid in US Dollars, colones or with credit cards.

How can I get a working visa?

You must apply for a working visa at the Costa Rican Consulate.

How can I apply for legal residency in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica offers different ways to legalize your status:
-temporary resident
-pensioner
-Foreigner government mission
For more legal information contact the Costa Rican consulate or the Costa Rican Residents Association at www.casacanada.net

Are the national parks wheel chair accessible?

The Poas Volcano National Park is the only one that offers access for wheel chairs.

If I decided to stay longer, can I get a visa while I am there?

You just have to leave the country for 72 hours, upon returning to Costa Rica the permit will be renewed automatically for 90 more days.

What should I bring when going to the rain forest?

All you need is insect repellent, a rain coat with a hood and hiking boots.

Are there domestic airlines that travel within the country?

You can contact SANSA at www.flysansa.com (506)2221-9414 or Nature Air at www.natureair.net (506) 2220-3054.

What is the sales tax in Costa Rica?

Sales tax is 13%.

What number should I dial in case of emergency?

Dial 911 for immediate assistance.

Where can I practice white water rafting?

You can practice it at Pacuare, Reventazon, Corobici, Sarapiqui, Naranjo and Savegre rivers.

Where can egg laying turtles be seen?

You can go to Tortuguero National Park in the Caribbean or to Las Baulas National Park in the Pacific coast.

Which are Costa Rica natural boundaries?

- North: Nicaragua
- South: Panama
- East: Caribbean Sea
- West: Pacific Ocean.

GEOGRAPHY

Rugged highlands are found throughout most of the country, ranging from approximately 1,000 to 2,000 meters (3,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level). The Guanacaste Mountain Range, Central Mountain Range, and Talamanca Mountain Range are the main mountain ranges extending the entire length of the country. There are several active volcanoes (Arenal Volcano, Irazu Volcano, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Turrialba Volcano) and the country's highest mountain (Chirripo Hill) with a height of 3,819 m/12,530 ft. The country has a relatively long coastline in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as a number of rivers and streams that attract specialist kayakers and rafters from all over the world.

CLIMATE

In general, the climate in Costa Rica is very pleasant not only during the dry season, which extends from December to April but also during the rainy season, which runs from May to November. During the rainy season rain can be expected in the afternoons, on the other hand the mornings are usually sunny.


Costa Rica has a tropical climate with an average temperature of 22 degrees C (72 degrees F) that increases considerably on the coastal areas. The changes in temperature are considerable and due to the short distances in this relatively small country, they can all be experienced in just one day.


Due to factors such as the geographical location, the weather conditions, the formation of mountain chains, mountains, and valleys, this country experiences different microclimates that give a home to different types of vegetation,


The following climates in the country can be categorized in the following regions:

  • The high and cold region: With an elevation of 3,000 to 3,100 meters in altitude with temperatures of 0 degrees C.
  • The hot region: The elevation is above 1,500 meters in altitude, with temperatures between 14 degrees C and 18 degrees C.
  • The humid tropical region: The elevation is up to 1,100 meters in altitude with temperatures between 25 and 26 degrees C.
  • The tropical region: Pertaining to the dry season, with temperatures between 26 and 27 degrees C.

The inter-mountainous valley region with an elevation between 1,000 and 1,100 meters in altitude which is a characteristic of the central valley, with temperatures that range from 14 to 18 degrees C.


Due to the weather characteristics and the topography of the country, different types of forests can be appreciated: the cloud forest, the rain forest, the dry forest, and the transition forest.