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Costa Rica

POPULATION

4.2 MILLION

CAPITAL

San José

LOCAL TIME

GMT/UTC -6

LANGUAGE

Spanish

RELIGION

The official religion is Roman Catholic. Freedom or religious choice is respected.

VISA REQUIREMENTS

Tourist visas are not required for stays less than 90 days, but tourist must present a return or onward ticket.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS

Citizens of the United States and Canada must present a valid passport to visit Costa Rica. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.

Departure tax is US29.00, and can be paid with US Dollars, Colons or credit card.

DIALING CODE

+506

CURRENCY

The Costa Rican currency is called Colon. US dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted. For example, 1.00 USD=534.622 CRC (approximate).

ELECTRICAL CURRENT

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

WATER

Costa Rica's water system is one of the best in Latin America, and there is potable water in almost all locations in Costa Rica that is safe to drink for locals and foreigners alike. If you feel more comfortable drinking bottled water, they are available throughout Costa Rica. We recommend that you bring a water bottle and try to refill it whenever you can to reduce the number of plastic bottles and trash that ends up in Costa Rican landfills.

WEATHER

Well if you like 50/50 odds then you will do fine here. Costa Rican weather is very unpredictable and you can find yourself out for a sunny afternoon walk only to get caught in a downpour 10 minutes later. For the most part there are two seasons in Costa Rica - the Dry Season and the Wet Season. On the Pacific side of the country this tends to be a very defined two seasons. From December to mid-April there will be little rain, the rest of the year you will most likely see afternoon showers. On the Caribbean side the weather is a bit more unpredictable and you will find it more difficult to really get predictable weather.

Costa Rica's weather is influenced by altitude. The Pacific coast is drier while the Atlantic coast has the most rainfall - about 300 days a year. The temperature in San José ranges from a high of 27°C to a low of 14°C. The wet season is from May to October. The hottest months are March and April.

GETTING TO COSTA RICA

The main airport is the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), located in Alajuela. This airport is only twenty minutes away from San José. Other important airports are:

  • The Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, located in Liberia (LIR), Guanacaste.
  • The Tobias Bolaños Airport located in Pavas, San José, for local as well as international flights.

There are also landing fields for local flights situated in different parts of the country such as: Limon, Tortuguero, La Fortuna, Tamarindo, Samara, Tambor, Quepos, Palmar North, Golfito, and San Vito.

WHEN TO TRAVEL

Costa Rica is divided into three travel seasons, High Season from December to April, Green Season from May to November and Peak Season – Christmas/ New Years and Easter Holiday weeks. Green Season offers the best hotel prices and the least amount of tourists. If you must travel peak seasons make your reservations as early as possible because hotels fill up fast.

LOCATION, AREA AND FRONTIERS

Located in Central America, Costa Rica has an area of 51,100km2 (19,730 square miles) and shares borders with Nicaragua to the north and with Panama to the South.

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.

NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

  • January 1st: New Years Day
  • April 11th: Juan Santamaria Day, National Hero.
  • Holy Thursday and Good Friday: Religious activities.
  • May 1st: International Labor Day.
  • August 15th: Mothers Day.
  • September 15th: Independence Day.
  • December 25th: Christmas Day.

OTHER HOLIDAYS

  • July 25th: Annexation of Guanacaste Day.
  • August 2nd: Virgin of the Angels Day.
  • October 12th: Christopher Columbus Day.

Information courtesy of Costa Rica Tourism Board.

For more information: www.visitcostarica.com

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