Costa Rica 101
By Tommy Quinn
Costa Rica extends 200 miles wide from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean and it borders Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the south, with the land portion occupying 20,000 square miles. When you travel throughout the provinces of Costa Rica, it's easy to notice the many landscape and climate variations. This small nation is one of the most visited destinations by tourists from all around the world, with the majority of tourist coming from the United States.
The country of Costa Rica is divided into 7 provinces, which are:
San Jose (capital city), Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, Puntarenas, Guanacaste and Limon. Each province has their own distinction either by climate, landscape or cultural. Between all the provinces you will find all sorts of attractions, like: rain forests, volcanoes, national parks, beaches, museums and restaurants.
Population: 4,100,000 (Over 2,000,000 tourists for 2008)
Language: Spanish (English is spoken in a lot of tourists area)
Currency: The official currency is the Colon. The dollar is widely accepted and the exchange rate is roughly 500 colones to $1 USD.
Climate: Costa Rica's year round climate is pleasant with naturally occurring breezes, cooling down most of the coastal areas. Temperatures in the highlands and mountains are cool; sometimes it might reach the low 60's, while on the beaches it's a bit warmer, reaching the low to mid 90's. The only seasons that exist are the wet and dry season, the difference between the two is the precipitation, while the temperature stays about the same year round.
Entry Requirements: U.S. and Canadian citizens holding valid passports are permitted to visit 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. Certain nationalities require a visa before arrival; make sure to check with a Costa Rica consulate or embassy in your country to confirm what exactly is required for legal entry. Communication: Telephone, internet and cable television is found almost in all parts of Costa Rica. If you plan on bringing a mobile phone from the U.S., AT&T is the most recognized service provider in Costa Rica. If you plan on sending back a post card to family or friends the postal system is efficient enough to get it there for you.
Transportation: There are many forms to get around this beautiful land, from public buses, taxis, private shuttles, airplanes and helicopters. In certain areas ATV's, golf carts and bicycles are a popular way of transportation. Most methods of transportation are very affordable and safe. If you want to drive your own way around the country you have many rental car companies to choose from, let it be a franchised or local company.
Food and Water: The water is safe to drink in most areas of the country, if you aren't sure if you should drink the water you can always find bottled water at a local store. The food has a slight exotic flavor in most dishes but it isn't spicy, which is great for all ages. There really isn't a meal you shouldn't try, almost all dishes are worth at least trying and figuring out on your own if it's something you enjoy or not. A common lunch or dinner includes: rice, beans, some type of salad, and a choice of beef, chicken, fish or pork.
This small country is very peaceful with wonderful people, places and food to enjoy. It's no wonder why this small but attractive country has become one of the most popular destinations in the last 20 years. Start making plans to make a getaway and see exactly for yourself what Costa Rica is all about.
Tommy Quinn is an expert when it comes to Costa Rica vacations. Originally from Houston, Texas, he now resides in Costa Rica for nearly 20 years. Tommy owns Unique Services Costa Rica which is a vacation company on the Central Pacific coastline of Costa Rica. http://www.UniqueServicesCR.com
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.