Costa Rica

Costa Rica Destinations Travel Guide

 

Flag of Costa Rica

Language: Spanish

Currency: Costa Rican colon (CRC)

Calling Code: +506

 

Description of Costa Rica

Costa Rica, officially called the Republic of Costa Rica, is a sovereign nation, organized as a unitary presidential republic composed of 7 provinces. Located in Central America, it has a territory with a total area of ​​51 100 km². It borders Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, Panama to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the west. As for the maritime limits, it borders Panama, Nicaragua, Colombia and Ecuador (through Isla del Coco). It has 4 807 850 inhabitants according to the latest demographic projection of INEC Its capital, political and economic center is San José, and its official language is Spanish.

It is one of the strongest democracies on the planet, winning worldwide recognition for abolishing the army on December 1, 1948, an abolition that was perpetuated in the 1949 Political Constitution. Its human development index of 2017 is considered high, since which is the 66th in the world and the 5th in Latin America, while adjusted for inequality advances to the fourth regional position, with a Gini coefficient of 48.2.In addition, in the classification of the Global Competitiveness Index of 2017, it is the 47th in the world and the 4th in the Americas.17 Costa Rica is emerging as one of the richest, most progressive, developed and stable countries in the Americas, standing out in the environmental indexes, press freedom, personal freedom , Security, equality, democracy, distribution of wealth, social progress, health and education.

In 2007, the Costa Rican government announced plans to become the first carbon-neutral world country for the year, when it will celebrate its bicentennial as an independent nation, according to the Legatum Institute, the country stands out as the fourth most prosperous nation in the continent, occupying 29th place globally. It is also considered the happiest, greenest, greenest and most sustainable state on the planet, according to the 2016 Happy Planet Index, published by the British think tank New Economics Foundation, which has cataloged the country consecutively for 7 years.

 

Travel Destination in Costa Rica

Braulio Carrillo National Park is one of the most interesting and unique areas of protected rainforest in Central America.

Cabo Blanco Natural Reserve is a nature reserve located on the Southern tip of Nicoya Peninsula in Puntarenas province of Costa Rica.

Cahuita National Park is situated in town of Cahuita in Limon Province of Costa Rica. It is a fairly small, but beautiful park.

Corcovado National Park is situated on Osa peninsula in the Southern Costa Rica. It covers an extensive area of 425 sq km.

Manuel Antonio National Park is smallest park of Costa Rica located just south of town of Quepos in Puntarenas Province.

Pristine and beautiful Manzanillo Beach is situated South of Puerto Limon in Limon province in Costa Rica.

Pacuare River has Class 4 rapids that are favorite destination for whitewater rafting, whitewater kayaking and river boarding.

Peace Waterfall or La Paz Waterfall is situated 31 kilometers North of Alajuela along 126 Hwy in Alajuela Province of Costa Rica.

Parque Nacional Poas Volcano is famous for protecting biosphere of the active stratovolcano Poas situated in the Costa Rica.

Remains of the San Lucas Prison in San Lucas Island is said to be the most haunted site in the Costa Rica.

Abandoned Sanatorio Carlos Duran situated is Costa Rica is said to be haunted by those who died here.

Tortuguero National Park is a nature reserve located near town of Tortuguero in Limón Province in the North East Costa Rica.

Majestic Turriaba Volcano derives its name of the volcano rises comes from the Latin Turris Alba which means 'white flower'.

Turtle National Park also known as Las Baulas National Marine Park is located in the Limon province on the Western, Pacific coast.

 

History

In the pre-Columbian period, most of Costa Rica was inhabited by Huetars and Bribris.

Costa Rica was discovered in 1502 by Christopher Columbus during his fourth voyage to the Americas. Spanish colonization began around 1530.

The settlement by the Spaniards and the economic development of this colony was very slow, partly due to difficulties with the country's climatic conditions, as well as due to raids by English and Dutch pirates (supported by the authorities of England and Holland), who attacked the Spaniards from the end of the 16th century until the middle of XIX century. The British also organized raids into Costa Rica by the Miskito Indians (from the east coast of present-day Nicaragua). In addition, the colonialists had no incentive due to the low gold content in the lands of the conquered Indians.

In the 1560s and 1570s, the Huetars and Bribri tribes were not yet completely conquered by the Spaniards. The territory of the western Huetars extended to the Pacific coast, their ruler was Garabito (Guarabito), and the ruler of the eastern ones was El Guarco.

In the 16th century, Spanish settlers settled in the Central Plateau of Costa Rica, where before that, as well as throughout the country, the Indian population was small.

The poverty of the country in minerals and climatic conditions led to the fact that mainly poor immigrants from Spain settled in Costa Rica, which led to the creation of not large plantations (as in other colonies of Spain in America), but small or medium-sized farms.

These small farms grew wheat, corn, sugarcane, tobacco, beans, cocoa and some other crops. In 1808, the first seedlings of coffee trees were brought to Costa Rica from Cuba, and soon this culture became widespread.

Negro slaves were hardly imported to Costa Rica (due to the poverty of small farms), but a certain number of blacks and mulattos settled in the country, mainly on the Atlantic coast - from runaway slaves and pirates. The bulk of the Negro population appeared on the Caribbean coast in connection with the construction of the interoceanic railway in 1868-1870.

In 1563, the Spanish founded the city of Cartago, which was the capital of the colony until 1821, before independence. At the beginning of the 19th century, liberation wars began in the Spanish colonies, which practically did not touch the peaceful life of Costa Rica.

In 1814, the province of Guanacaste, which had previously belonged to Nicaragua, voluntarily joined Costa Rica. On July 25, 1825, the accession was confirmed in a local referendum. This day has become one of the national holidays. The holiday is called the "Accession of the Nicoya Party", since the decision to join Costa Rica belonged to a large party that broke away from Nicaragua.

September 15, 1821 - Independence Day of Costa Rica. On this day, in the General Government of Guatemala, an act of independence from Spain was signed and sent to all the nearest colonies. The horse messenger rode to Costa Rica for two months, it was then that the country learned about its independence, which it did not aspire to politically. Soon it united with the rest of the countries of Central America: Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador into a federation and was attached to the Mexican Empire, after the collapse of which the federation existed until 1838. In 1824, it was decided to move the capital to San Jose, but this city began to develop actively starting in 1950.

In 1844, the first constitution was adopted. In 1856, the American adventurer William Walker, who seized power in Nicaragua and declared himself president, decided to attack Costa Rica. His way was blocked by a hastily assembled military detachment of volunteers. The Costa Ricans expelled Walker from their territory and pursued him to the Nicaraguan city of Rivas, where the famous battle took place, in which the national hero Juan Santamaria distinguished himself.

Between 1859 and 1870, several presidents were replaced. In 1871, President Tomas Gutierrez adopted a new constitution that abolished the death penalty and encouraged foreign investment. The American company "United Fruit" began to expand into Costa Rica, buying up land. This company organized a large export production in Costa Rica - in addition to coffee, also bananas, cocoa, pineapples and other crops. The company also built a railroad network in Costa Rica.

In the 1930s, left-wing movements gained strength. On the other hand, supporters of the pro-Hitler orientation created the Nazi Party of Costa Rica. In 1941, Costa Rica, like most Latin American countries, declared war on the Axis countries, but participated in the hostilities only by sending a few of its pilots to the front - as part of the troops of France and the United States.

 

In 1948-1949, there was a civil war in Costa Rica. It made such a deep impression on the country that a law was passed to abolish the regular military forces. Since 1948, there has been no army in Costa Rica, only police. In 1955, the former president and his supporters organized a military invasion of Costa Rica. He was supported by Batista, the dictator of Cuba, and other dictators in the region. José Figueres Ferrer, President of Costa Rica, appealed to the OAS, and the invasion ended there.

In the 1970s, due to falling coffee prices and rising oil prices, there was economic instability in the country, while the country continued to be the most stable in the Central American region. In 1979, Costa Rican President Rodrigo Carazo Odio initially supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Soon the first left-wing guerrilla groups appeared in Costa Rica itself, apparently inspired by the success of the Sandinistas. The opposite ultra-right trend consolidated in the Costa Rican Freedom Movement, which formed assault troops to fight communism and Sandinismo.

In 1990, Calderón, whose father had been president before, was elected president of the country.

On March 19, 2009, President of Costa Rica (previously considered one of the faithful "aircraft carriers" of the United States in the region) Oscar Aries announced that his country was resuming ties with disgraced Cuba, interrupted almost 50 years ago. Oscar Aries is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

On February 7, 2010, she was elected, and on May 8, Laura Chinchilla, the first woman president in the history of the country, officially took office.

Since May 8, 2014, the president has been Luis Guillermo Solis, a representative of the Civic Activism Party (Spanish: Partido Acción Ciudadana), which for the first time in the history of the country replaced the two traditionally ruling parties: the Party of Social Christian Unity (Partido Unidad Social Cristiana) and National Liberation Party (Partido Liberación nacional).

On May 8, 2018, Carlos Alvarado Quesada became president.

On May 8, 2022, Rodrigo Chavez Robles assumed the presidency.

 

Geography

Costa Rica is one of the smallest countries in Central America. It is located in the narrow part of the isthmus connecting two continents. In the southwest, the country is washed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, in the northeast - by the Caribbean Sea. The coastline stretches for 1290 km. The two rivers Pacuare and Reventason are excellent for rafting and are located east of the capital San José.

Costa Rica's northern neighbor is Nicaragua, and its southern neighbor is Panama. The total territory of the country is 51.1 thousand km², including Isla del Coco, plus 589 thousand km² of territorial waters.

Costa Rica is a reserve country (there are 74 reserves in total), where a riot of wild flora and fauna is surrounded by mountains and the ocean. The main attractions of the country are national parks, mountain and underwater caves, as well as waterfalls, picturesque mountain and river valleys, volcanoes. Protected natural areas occupy about 27% of the country's area.

Mountain ranges stretch from north to south across the country, between them is the Central Plateau - fertile soils here, and it is here that a significant part of the population of Costa Rica lives. The mountains surrounding the plateau are mostly of volcanic origin, there are also active volcanoes. The most famous Costa Rican volcano is the active, young Arenal volcano. This is a high mountain of regular conical shape. At night, Arenal is illuminated, and during the eruption illuminates the surroundings. The highest volcano is Irazu (3432 m). And the highest point - Chirripo (3820 m), is located in the south of the country. Lake Arenal is the largest of the country's lakes and is of artificial origin.

550 km off the coast of Costa Rica in the Pacific Ocean is the uninhabited island of Cocos (Isla del Coco, English Cocos), with an area of ​​24 km². This is the world's largest officially uninhabited island, and Jacques-Yves Cousteau called the island "the most beautiful in the world." This is a wild, untouched by civilization place, covered with jungle forests. This island is also a center of diving, thousands of tourists from all over the world come here every year to plunge into the crystal clear waters of the ocean. In addition to Cocos, in Costa Rica there are other uninhabited islands - Negritos and Los Pájaros.

 

Climate

The climate of Costa Rica is subequatorial. The rugged terrain creates a wide variety of climatic conditions.

On the Caribbean coast and on the eastern slopes of the mountains, abundant precipitation (sometimes up to 3000 mm per year) is brought by the northeast trade winds. Most of the year there is hot, rainy weather. In the lowlands, the average temperature in January is +23 °C, in July - +25 °C. On the Pacific coast and on the western slopes of the mountains, the climate is less humid. There is a dry winter season for four months of the year.

Nature
Forests cover almost 2/3 of the area of ​​Costa Rica. In tropical forests, trees of valuable species grow - red, ebony, balsa.

This country offers some of the best diversity of wildlife on Earth. Costa Rica, which is the size of the Voronezh region, is home to 500,000 diverse species - about 4% of all plants, insects and animals on Earth.

National parks
La Amistad International Park (Spanish for "friendship") with an area of ​​250,000 hectares was established in 1979 and is located in the southeast of the country, on the border with Panama. This reserve dates back to the 50s, its founders are the Wesberg couple from Sweden, they moved to Costa Rica to study the rainforest and protect it from deforestation. It has been under the protection of UNESCO since 1983.

Political structure
The head of state is the president, elected by popular vote for a 4-year term. The 2022 election was won by the candidate of the Social Democratic Progressive Party, Rodrigo Chávez Robles.

The National Assembly has 57 members who are elected for four years. Main political parties (according to the results of elections in 2014):
National Liberation Party - centre-left, 18 deputies
Civic Action Party - centre-left, 13 deputies
Wide front - left, 9 deputies
Party of Social Christian Unity - center-right, 8 deputies
Libertarian Movement Party - centre-right, 4 deputies

Administrative-territorial division
Costa Rica is divided into 7 provinces:

Alajuela
Cartago
Guanacaste
Heredia
Lemon
Puntarenas
San Jose
The provinces are divided into cantons. There are 81 cantons, they are governed by mayors. The mayor of each canton is elected every 4 years by its inhabitants.

Population
The official language is Spanish. Many citizens, as well as black residents of the Caribbean coast, speak English.

Demography
Population: 5.1 million (July 2020 est.)

Annual growth: 1.08%

Birth rate: 14.8 per 1000;

Mortality: 4.9 per 1000;

Immigration: 0.8 per 1000;

Infant mortality: 7.5 per 1000 births;

Life expectancy: 79.2 years on average (76.5 years for men and 82 years for women) (2020).

Percentage of people living with HIV: 0.4% (2018 est.).

Urban population: 80.8% (in 2020).

Literacy - 97.9% (according to 2018 data)

Ethno-racial composition (2011)
65.8% white
13.65% mestizo
6.72% - mulattoes
2.4% - Indians
1.03% - blacks
0.21% Asian
9.03% - "immigrants"
0.88% - others

Life expectancy
Costa Rica has the highest life expectancy in Latin America as of 2018 (80.1 years).

Life expectancy is 80.1 years.
Men - 77.5 years.
Women - 82.7 years.

Religion
The predominant religion is Catholicism. According to the University of Costa Rica, about 44.9% of the population are practicing Catholics.
13.8% of the population are evangelical Christians,
11.3% - non-believers and agnostics,
4.3% - other religions
Jehovah's Witnesses - 1.48% (as of 2011)
Mormons - 1%.
also a small Jewish community.

Evangelical Christians are represented by the Protestant Episcopal Church, Assemblies of God, Church of God, Methodists, and Baptists.

According to the Constitution of 1949, Catholicism was declared the official religion, the Church is not separated from the state and is partly financed from the state budget. In public schools in Costa Rica, the only republic of North America, the teaching of religious subjects was introduced. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion, while clerics cannot be elected to the legislative assembly. There is a Protestant theological seminary in San Jose, where students from various countries of North and South America study. Some candidates for the presidency of Costa Rica in 2009 spoke in favor of the idea of ​​separating the Catholic Church from the state.

 

Foreign policy

Costa Rica actively participates in the activities of the UN and the OAS. Costa Rica has the right to vote in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Institute for Peace and in many other international organizations related to human rights and democracy.

The main goal of Costa Rica's international policy is to stimulate the continuous development of human rights as a way to maintain stability and growth. Costa Rica is also a member of the International Criminal Court and an observer in the Non-Aligned Movement. Since 1949, Costa Rica has been a permanently neutral state.

 

Economy

The economy of Costa Rica is based on tourism, agriculture and the production and export of electronics (microprocessors and medical devices). Foreign investors are attracted by political stability, the qualifications of the workforce, and tax incentives.

GDP per capita in 2016 - $ 11,835 (58th in the world).

Industry (25% of GDP, 22% of employees) - production of microprocessors, food industry, medical equipment, textiles and clothing, building materials, fertilizers.

Agriculture (6% of GDP, 14% of employees) - bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy products; logging.

Service sector - 69% of GDP, 64% of employees.

Fuel prices are regulated by the state, the price is the same at all filling stations. Costa Rica does not have a single minimum wage for all sectors of the economy. It is set separately for each sector of the country's economy. Costa Rica has the highest minimum wage in Latin America. Effective January 1, 2021, the minimum wage ranged from ₡317915.58 ($519.51) per month for unskilled workers to ₡682607.23 ($1115.45) per month for university graduates.

In 2016, President Luis Guillermo Solis, at the opening of a new hydroelectric power station, announced that Costa Rica had completely switched to renewable energy sources.

Corruption
As of 2021, Costa Rica, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index, has one of the lowest levels of corruption among Latin American countries and is ranked 42nd in the world, just behind Cape Verde and one position above the Republic of Cyprus.

International trade
Exports in 2017 - $10.81 billion - electronics, medical devices, bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; seafood.

The main buyers are the USA 40.9%; Belgium 6.3%; Panama 5.6%; Netherlands 5.6%, Nicaragua 5.1%, Guatemala 5%.

Imports in 2017 - $15.15 billion - raw materials, consumer goods, industrial equipment, oil products.

The main suppliers are the USA 38.1%; China 13.1%; Mexico 7.3%.

Armed forces
The Constitution adopted on November 7, 1949 forbade the creation and maintenance of a permanent professional army in peacetime; instead, a “civil guard” (Guardia Civil) was created to protect the country.

Social sphere
In 2009, Costa Rica ranked first in the International Happiness Index.

 

Culture

Costa Ricans often refer to themselves as "tico" (tico) - masculine - and "tica" (tica) - feminine. The word tico comes from the local suffix "tico" or "tica" (e.g. "momentico" instead of "momentito"). The phrase “Pura Vida” (“Perfect Life”) is the main slogan of Costa Rica. The younger generation says "mae" - short for "maje" (mae means guy, dude) - to each other, although such an address can be perceived as an insult to the older generation; maje is a synonym for tonto, which means fool, fool.

Costa Rica is proud of its history. Mesoamerican and South American cultures met on the territory of the modern country. The peninsula of Nicoya, located to the northwest, was the southernmost area of ​​influence of the Aztec culture at the time the Spanish conquerors arrived (16th century); on the other hand, the original culture of Gran Nicoya existed here in the pre-Columbian period. The influence of the Chibcha culture was widespread in the central and southern regions of the country. However, the locals have only had a small impact on modern Costa Rican culture, as they died from disease and internecine warfare.

Meanwhile, the Atlantic coast was settled by African workers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many African Costa Ricans are descended from Jamaican workers who in the 19th century built a network of railroads between the settlements of the Central Plateau and the port of Limon on the Caribbean coast. Italian and Chinese immigrants were also involved in the construction of the railways.

Mass media
The most common media are newspapers and radio. La Nacion, La Republica, and La Prensa Libre are San José's largest Spanish-language dailies. The Tico Times and Costa Rica Today are English-language newspapers primarily aimed at tourists.

The state television and radio company - SINART (Sistema Nacional de Radio y Televisión - "National System of Radio and Television") - includes the Canal 13 TV channel and the Radio Nacional radio channel.

Literature
One of the most famous writers of Costa Rica, the author of the first national novels, Joaquín Garcia Monge (1881-1958), for many years led the publication of the periodical Repertorio Americano (1919-1958), which was famous throughout Latin America. A noticeable trace in the literature of the 20th century. also left the poet Roberto Brenes Mesen (1874-1947), prose writers Carmen Lira (1888-1949), Carlos Luis Fallas (1909-1966), Fabian Dobles, Yolanda Oreamuno (1916-1956), Joaquin Gutiérrez (1918-2000), Quince Duncan, Alberto Cañas, Carmen Naranjo and poet Alfonso Chase. Currently, the country is represented at international literary forums by the poet Oswaldo Sauma.

Architecture and fine arts
In San Jose, Cartago and Orosi, some buildings built in the Spanish colonial style have been preserved. Of contemporary artists, the most famous painter, sculptor and writer Max Jimenez (1908-1947), sculptor Francisco Zúñiga (b. 1913), engraver Francisco Amigetti (b. 1908) and painter Rafael Fernandez. Gold items of the pre-Hispanic Indians, as well as a collection of paintings, are presented at the Museum of the Central Bank of Costa Rica (San Jose), jade items - at the Jade Museum.

Theaters and libraries
Opera performances and symphony concerts are held in the building of the National Theater in San Jose with stairs and balconies made of Carrara marble, built at the request of the Costa Rican "coffee barons" (very offended that one of the invited opera stars refused to come to the country, for performances in an open area) by the best European architects, and not inferior at the time of construction to the best similar buildings in Europe. In addition to it, there are many small theaters in the capital.

The National Library in San José, founded in 1888, holds more than 175,000 volumes, and the library of the University of Costa Rica, founded in 1946, has approx. 100 thousand volumes. There are also significant collections in the national archives.

 

Cuisine

The cuisine of Costa Rica consists primarily of rice, fruits, fish, beans, meat and vegetables. Local culinary specialists, as a rule, rarely use spices in their dishes, however, ketchup or chili sauces are usually served with any dish.

Costa Rican coffee is considered one of the best in the world, which is why it is consumed here in huge quantities. It is served on the table in small jugs and poured into tiny cups. Also throughout Costa Rica, herbal tea is popular, which is brewed according to old recipes.

The most popular dish in the country is casados ​​(pinto) - a mixture of black beans and rice with vegetables, which is served with meat dishes.

 

Holidays in Costa Rica

January 1 (New Year)
February 14 (Valentine's Day)
March 8 (International Women's Day)
April 11 (Day of Juan Santamaria, hero of the 1856 war of Costa Rica against American mercenaries)
May 1 (Workers' Solidarity Day)
May 24 (Gricorinho Day)
third Sunday in June ("Father's Day" or "Man's Day", "Dia del Padre")
July 25
August 2 (Day of Our Lady or "Angelic Virgin", accompanied by a mass procession and procession to the Basilica Church in Cartago)
August 15 (Assumption of the Virgin and at the same time "Mother's Day")
September 15 (Independence Day of Central America from Spanish rule)
October 12 (Cristóbal Colón Day (the real spelling of the name Christopher Columbus) and America's Discovery Day. This holiday is also called "Culture Day" since it is believed that on this day there was a meeting of European and Native American (Indian) cultures)
October 31 (Halloween carnival holiday, All Saints' Eve)
December 15 ("Festival of Light", the evening carnival in San Jose - "Festival de la Luz". Celebrated on the Saturday closest to December 15)
December 25 (Catholic Christmas).

 

Music

The music of Costa Rica has not achieved notable international popularity; the most famous genres of music in Costa Rica are: the aboriginal dance direction calypso, which is separated from the more famous Trinidadian calypso, which sounds in nightclubs in different cities, such as San José; American and British rock 'n' roll, pop music is common and popular among young people (especially urban youth), while soca, salsa, merengue, cumbia and techno attract a more mature audience. The most common instruments are guitar, accordion, mandolin and marimba (wooden xylophone).

Education
The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 96% (according to the World Book of Facts for February 2007), one of the highest in Latin America. The share of spending on education in the state budget is higher than in any other Latin American country. Costa Rica introduced compulsory primary education. Most of the secondary schools provide general education, but there are also a number of technical and pedagogical specialization schools.

The leading institution of higher education is the University of Costa Rica, founded in 1843 and reorganized in 1940. Of the other public higher education institutions worthy of mention are the Technological Institute in Cartago, founded in 1971, the National University of Heredia (1973) and the Open University of San José, which has a correspondence department. Also in Costa Rica is the University of Peace, opened in 1980.