Unlike many other countries around the world,
one of the best things about Costa Rica is that it's people actually
welcome foreigners. They are friendly, affable, and try to make you
feel right at home. Compared with the rest of Latin America living standards
here are still at an enviable level, with a literacy rate of 94% and
a per capita income double that of the regional average.
Government: Costa Rica is a democratically elected Republic. Elections are held
every four years.
Religion: Like all Latin American countries, Costa Rica is predominantly Catholic,
but other denominations are found throughout the country.
Population: 3,500,000 of which over 50% live in the Central Valley which comprises
only 4% of the entire country.
Language: Spanish is the native language, but other languages such as English,
French, Italian, and German are frequently spoken especially in tourist
Time Zone: Costa Rica is on Central Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time is
Almost ideal year-round, the climate is a moderate 72 degrees in the
highlands, while the lowlands and coastal areas range from the low 70's
to the high 90's. Evenings in San Jose are free of humid heat, and beaches
are cooled by ocean breezes. Rainy season occurs from the end of May
to November, with the heaviest rainfall in October. The Atlantic or
Caribbean side is driest from February thru April, with a short "summer"
in June and July, and the wettest months from November thru January.
However, you should be prepared for rain at any time during the year
in this part of the country. The Pacific side and central parts of the
country are driest from January through March.
Avg. highs are between 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit and avg. lows between
Costa Rica is bordered to the north by Nicaragua and to the south by
Panama. It has both a Pacific and Atlantic Coast. A series of volcanic
chains (cordilleras) runs from the Nicaraguan border in the Northwest
to the Panamanian border in the southeast, splitting the country in
two. In the center of theses ranges is a high-altitude plain (Central
Valley), with coastal lowlands on either side. Over half the population
lives on this plain, which has fertile volcanic soils. The Caribbean
coast is 132 miles long while the Pacific coast is 635 miles long.
A valid passport is required to enter and
visas are needed for certain nationalities so check
ahead before traveling.
more information click here.
The citizens of the following nationalities can
stay for 90 days without a consular visa if International Agreements
States of America
Departure tax: $26.00 U.S. by air. Land and Sea exits are not charged
Currency, banking, credit cards, traveler's
The Costa Rican monetary unit is the Colon. NOTE: DON'T BE TEMPTED
TO EXCHANGE MONEY IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY BEFORE DEPARTING, THE RATE YOU
WILL RECEIVE IS WELL BELOW WHAT YOU'LL RECEIVE HERE. The exchange rate
is currently hovering around ¢447.00 colones to $1.00 U.S. (02-02-04)
and can fluctuate without notice. It is best to bring money in the form
of U.S. dollar denominated traveler's checks, don't expect to cash personal
checks. In the city most businesses will accept major credit cards (Visa,
Master Card, Amex), however in the outlying areas cash is preferred.
There are numerous ATM's around that work on (Cirrus, Star, and Plus)
systems, don't forget your PIN. Office hours are generally from 8:00
am to 4:30-5:00 pm with an hour for lunch between 12 noon and 1 pm.
Most banks are open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on weekdays.
Electricity: Standard current is 110 volts, 60 Hertz
Direct-dial telephone service, fax, telex, Internet services (Internet
Cafe), radio and cable television are all available. Telephone service
is efficient and there are more telephones per capita than in any other
Latin American country. Bilingual operator assistance for international
calls is 116, local information 113, and long distance information 124,
and direct dial service is available to most countries. You may also
use telephone credit cards through the appropriate operator for the
following companies; ATT, MCI, SPRINT, and BELL CANADA.
Health: Public health facilities in Costa Rica compare favorably with that
of many developed countries and are numerous and dependable. Many English-speaking
doctors and dentists practice in San Jose.
Water: Yes, you can drink the water! Pure and suitable for drinking throughout
most of the country.
U.S. carriers include American, United, Continental and Delta Airlines.
LACSA is the official Costa Rican carrier.
Large number of affordable taxis. Bus service is readily available
both inter and intra city as well as internationally. Two domestic airlines
service the country well and there are a number of air taxi services
as well as helicopters. The road system is somewhat primitive compared
to North American standards, and driving at night is not recommended.
An international driver's permit is not necessary.
The tone here is casual wear - it is not necessary to dress up to go
to the theater or to dinner. Comfortable lightweight is best. In the
higher elevations, San Jose, the volcanoes, or Monteverde, temperatures
are cool and sweaters or light jackets are suggested
Pack lightly!! Suggested items:
- One or two swim suits
- Lightweight hiking boots with a good tread suggested for hikes
- Walking or athletic shoe with a good tread suggested for walks
- Plastic or waterproof sandals or river shoes
- Personal toiletries
- Insect repellant - at least 75% DEET
- Sunscreen - with high sun protection factor, such as SPF 29-40
- Hat or cap
- Lots of film (expensive here)
- Check batteries in camera
- Light natural, blends of cotton and a synthetic such as nylon
- Poncho or rain gear
- Light jacket or sweater for higher elevations and chilly nights
in San Jose
- Day pack
- Plastic bags - for keeping books, binoculars and other items dry,
and for wet clothing.
Taxes: There is a 13% sales tax and an additional 3% tourist tax at hotels.
Tipping: A 10% "service charge" is generally added to all restaurants
bills so act accordingly. Taxi drivers generally do not receive a tip.