Official information about Costa Rica can be found at Costa Rica's Tourist Board website.
Costa Rica (literally means "Rich Coast"), officially the Republic of Costa Rica (República de Costa Rica), is a small and biologically diverse Republic in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Costa Rica was the first country in the world to abolish its army, in 1948.
Costa Rica forms a natural bridge in Central America; its narrow isthmus lies 10° North of the Equator Line, on the Tropic. Costa Rica features a total of 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) of coastline (215 km / 135 miles on the Caribbean coast and 1,085 km / 665 miles on the Pacific Coast). It is about the size of the U.S. State of West Virginia, or the country of Switzerland. In total, Costa Rica comprises 51,100 sq. km (or 19,731 sq. mi.) of land plus 589,000 sq. km of territorial waters.
There are many romantic and exclusive hotels and resorts in Costa Rica. You will find some of the country's best hotels in this website. Adventure tourism is very popular, especially whitewater rafting. Among the country's most popular rivers for rafting are the Pacuare River, the Pejibaye River & the Reventazon River, all located east of San Jose and the Central Highland Volcanic Region. Check the company Explornatura for its selection of excellent and professional adventure tours.
The highest peak in the country is Chirripó Mountain, with an altitude of 3,822 m (or 12,503 ft), being the 5th highest point in Central America. The Irazu Volcano is the highest volcano in the country with 3,432 m / 11,261 ft. Arenal is a popular active volcano and artificial lake, the largest lake in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica also includes several beautiful islands. Isla del Coco stands out because of its biodiversity and distance from the continental landmass. It is 24 km² / 10 sq mi. in size and lies 502 km or 301 miles from Puntarenas Harbor. Other important islands are Caño Island, the Catalinas Islands and Tortuga Island.
Costa Rica has protected more than 25% of its national territory in a system of national parks, private reserves, wildlife refuges, etc. It also possesses, despite its small size, one of the most diverse and greatest density of species (biodiversity) in the world.
The Republic of Costa Rica boasts a long existing democracy with a strong constitution. Costa Ricans (known as Ticos and Ticas) claim that the country has had more than 115 years of uninterrupted democracy, which is by far the longest in Latin America, thus making Costa Rica one of the most stable countries in the Central American region. Costa Rica has made efforts to avoid violence and eradicate the poverty and criminality that has plagued Central America.
Executive responsibilities are vested in a democratically elected president, who is the country's center of power. There also are two vice presidents, as well as a cabinet of Ministers, designated by the president. The president, vice presidents and 57 representatives of the 7 provinces, or "diputados," at the National Legislative Assembly are elected for 4-year terms.
Until April 2003, there was a constitutional ban on presidential re-election. It was reversed, allowing popular leader Oscar Arias (Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1987) to run for President for a second term. He was re-elected in 2006 in a tight and highly contested election, and took office in May 2006.
Autonomous state institutes enjoy considerable operational independence; they include:
• The telecommunications and electrical power monopolies (ICE and CNFL),
• Nationalized banks (BNCR, BCR, BP, BCAC),
• The state insurance monopoly (INS)
• The social security and socialized medical system, or Caja (CCSS)
• The National Housing Institute (INVU)
• The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT)
Costa Rica has neither army nor military by constitution, but maintains a well-trained domestic civil police for internal security. This includes the Guardia Civil and the Guardia Rural.
Costa Rica is composed of 7 provinces, which are divided into 90 cantons, each directed by a mayor ("alcalde") who is chosen democratically every 4 years by each canton's population.
Provinces of Costa Rica:
• Alajuela province
• Cartago province
• Guanacaste province
• Heredia province
• Limón province
• Puntarenas province
• San José province
In recent times, electronics, pharmaceuticals, service and call centers, financial outsourcing, software development, and especially tourism and ecotourism, have become the most important industries of Costa Rica's economy. The high literacy rate among its population makes Costa Rica a very attractive tourist destination and location for investments.
The currency is called COLON (CRC), which trades around 500 to the dollar and about 720 to the Euro. In 2006, a new currency system was introduced, allowing the value of the CRC colón to float between two bands. The Central Bank wanted to better control inflation and discourage locals from using US dollars. Since then, the value of the COLON has increased against the dollar.
With a $1.8 billion income per year, thanks to the tourism industry, Costa Rica remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Latin America and stands as the most visited nation in the Central American region. Eco-tourism is extremely popular and demanded with many tourists visiting the many National Parks and protected regions around the country.
Costa Rica is an active member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. Costa Rica holds a seat on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and on the United Nations. The country is home to the University of Peace and many other international organizations related to human rights and democracy. Costa Rica's main foreign policy objective is to foster human rights and sustainable development as a way to secure stability and growth. Costa Rica also is a member of the International Criminal Court.
Flora and fauna
Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.1% of the world's landmass, it contains roughly 5% of the world's biodiversity A national park that is internationally-renowned among ecologists for its biodiversity (including big cats and tapirs) and where visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife, is the Corcovado National Park in the country's southern region on the Osa Peninsula.
Tortuguero National Park – the name Tortuguero can be translated as "Place of turtles" – is home to spider, howler and white-throated Capuchin monkeys, the three-toed sloth, 320 species of birds (including eight species of parrots), a variety of reptiles, but is mostly recognized for being the most important annual nesting site of the endangered green turtle. Giant leatherback, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles also nest here.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve hosts 2,000 plant species, including numerous orchids. More than 400 types of birds can be found here, and around 100 species of mammals. As a whole, approximately 850 species of birds have been identified in Costa Rica.