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Welcome to Costa Rica

Rhythmic pounding of waves on breezy shores; deserted beaches lined with palm trees and lush rain forests; velvety rolling hills of tropical vegetation; cottony clouds kissing the treetops; raging rivers cutting through virgin jungle; waterfalls feeding clear blue lagoons...These are just a few of the wonders visitors enjoy in the country called Costa Rica.

The population of Costa Rica is predominately of European origin, particularly Spanish. The ethnic diversity, which has resulted from settlement patterns in Costa Rica, gave the country a rich cultural tapestry that is every bit as interesting as the ecological diversity for which it is better known.

Costa Ricans are proud of their Republic, one of the most stable and democratic political systems in all of Latin America. The country abolished its military in 1948 and is forbidden by its constitution to establish another. Peace is not only a political concept in Costa Rica, but is evident in the spirit and generosity of the people themselves. The negotiating and constructive dialogue which guides the political process in Costa Rica also guides the country's citizens in their search of beneficial solutions to their problems.

In accordance with the democratic tradition in Costa Rica, education is free and mandatory, and the government's expenditures for health and education are among the highest in the budget. Costa Rica's literacy rate is 96%, and the average life expectancy exceeds 70 years. Natural areas are one of its greatest sources of national pride. With 46 national parks, reserves and wildlife refuges, Costa Rica long ago established ecological conservation as one of the country’s top priorities.

The result of its concentrated efforts at preservation is a rich bio-system in which diverse animal and plant species flourish. Costa Rica's natural areas are cherished by the country's citizens as well as by visitors from all over the world. Costa Rica is a small country by most standards, 125 kilometers (77 miles) wide at it narrowest point and 300 kilometers (185 miles) at its widest. It is situated 10 degrees north of the equator and has a territory of 51.000 square kilometers ( about 20,000 square miles), roughly the size of West Virginia, in the U.S.A.

The population of Costa Rica is approximately 3.5 millions.

What you should bring

  • It is advisable to bring US-Dollars only, not other currencies
  • Traveller checks: Please do not bring Eurochecks
  • International credit cards (Visa, Master Card, American Express)
  • Light pullover for the evenings in San José and mountainous regions
  • Swimming suit and shorts for the beaches
  • Sunglasses
  • Drivers license
  • Camera
  • Alarm clock for hostels without wake-up service
  • Small travelling bag for excursions to sites where large suitcases cannot be carried
  • Special medicaments (in Costa Rica you will usually find only the North American equivalent brands/medicines)
  • For forest visitors: Light rain jacket or poncho for excursions in the rain forest, resistant shoes (hiking shoes) or rubber boots, light wind jacket, light long trousers, light long sleeved shirts, several pairs of light socks, a thicker pullover (for higher located forests), insect repellent (to be obtained in Costa Rica, too), sun protection lotion (and hat, too), binoculars.

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