Costa Rica Travel Information and Tips

Costa Rica is certainly an exquisite and promising travel destination. Located in Central America, this part of the Isthmus covers a minuscule 0.01 percent of the planet's surface, and yet holds approximately 6 percent of the world's entire biodiversity.

This country is reknowned for its amazing scenery, well developed national parks and biological reserves, as well as many other advantages related to social aspects and infrastructure.

Its 32,000 square miles are bathed on the coastlines by both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. You will be surprised: it only takes three to four hours by land (or 45 minutes by air), to travel from one coast to the other.

This geographical situation can also cause quite an impact on the climate. There are only two distinct seasons year round: from May to November (rainy) and December to April (dry). The average temperature in the Central Valley is 72°F (22°C). Along the coast, it can vary from 70° to 90°F (21° to 32°C).

Facts

Location: Bordered on the North by Nicaragua and to the South by Panama.

Time Zone: In the Central standard time zone. Does not observe daylight savings time.

Population: 4 million plus inhabitants.

Language: Spanish is official, but English is widely spoken.

Currency: The official currency is the colon. However US dollars are widely accepted.

Government: The three branches of government are the Executive, Legislative and Judicial. The President and members of the Legislative Assembly serve four-year terms.

Education and healthcare: education is an important part of the national budget. The country has a literacy rate and average life expectancy that resemble more a Western European nation than most Latin American countries. A socialized medical system has been in place for nearly half a century, and schools and clinics are found throughout the country.

Telecommunications: One of the most advanced telecommunications systems in Latin America can be found here, with telephones and fax machines all over the country, and an increasing number of businesses online.

Transportation: Getting around Costa Rica is simple, and the use of public transport is quite inexpensive. There is bus service to practically every town and city, and buses that serve main travel destinations are quite reliable. Taxis are also plentiful. However, the quickest way to reach far away travel destinations is by air. Car rental agencies are easy to come upon, and most rent four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Main cities: The capital is San Jose, head of one of seven provinces. The others are Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Limon.

Entry requirements: citizens holding valid passports from a wide range of countries are permitted to stay in Costa Rica from 30 to 90 days without a visa. Once in the country, it is possible in some cases to apply for an extension. Other nationalities require a visa before arrival. Make sure to contact a Costa Rica embassy or consulate while making your travel plans.

Dates to Remember:

March / April – Easter Week

April 11th – Juan Santamaria day

May 1st – Labor Day

July 25th – Annexation of Guanacaste Celebration

August 2nd – Celebration for the Virgen de los Angeles

August 15th – Mother's Day

September 15th – Independence Day

Some holidays can be great opportunities for travelers. During the last week of the year, parades and other activities are held in San Jose and throughout the country. The Caribbean port of Limon holds its annual Carnival during the week of October 12, and is a delightfully colorful affair.