TOURISM - Tourism has become an integral part of the Costa Rican economy. Over one million people visit yearly and spend over 11 billion dollars annually visiting its rain forests, volcanoes, and beaches. The Four Seasons recently invested 30 million dollars in the North Pacific area. Marriott, Best Western, Radison and Inter-Continental Hotels are building resorts to accommodate the increasing number of tourists. Eco-tourism is growing rapidly and there is something for everyone: hiking, canopy tours, horseback riding, sport fishing, spas or just lying by the pool.
LOCATION - Costa Rica is located approximately ten degrees North of the Equator, on the isthmus of Central America. Costa Rica is bordered on the North by Nicaragua, on the South by Panama, on the East by the Caribbean, and on the West by the Pacific Ocean.
SIZE - Costa Rica is a small country, irregular in shape and less than 20,000 square miles in size. At its narrowest point, just 75 miles separates the Caribbean from the Pacific Ocean. From North to South the country is just 180 miles long.
GEOGRAPHY - Jagged mountains run through the heart of Costa Rica, extending almost continuously from the northwest to the southeast corners of the country. There are four major volcanic mountain ranges: Guanacaste, Tilarn, Central and Talamanca. These mountain ranges are separated by low passes and valleys and rise increasingly higher in the southern part of the country.
TEMPERATURE - Temperatures don't change much throughout the year. Generally speaking, the difference in the mean temperature of the warmest and coolest months is no more than five degrees Celsius. Temperatures vary mostly, but not uniquely, because of altitude. Below 800 meters the temperature can be between 25 - 32 C; at altitudes from 800 to 2,500 meters the temperature varies from 14 - 25 C, and above 2,500 meters the temperature is below 14 C.
COMMUNICATIONS - Costa Rica has one of the most advanced telecommunications systems in Latin America, with telephones and fax machines all over the country, and an increasing number of on-line businesses. To call or fax Costa Riva, simply dial the country code of 506 before the number. Mail service and a wide selection of courier services are available in San Jose (the capital city). Most large hotels in the San Jose area have cable TV, with US and European stations. Newspapers and magazines from North America and Several European nations are sold in shops and hotels across the country.
TRANSPORTATION - It's easy to get around in Costa Rica. If you use public transportation, traveling within the country can be quite inexpensive. There is bus service to just about every town and city, and high-quality buses service the main tourist destinations. Taxis are also plentiful and inexpensive, and in San Jose they are required to operate with meters for most trips. The normal charge for a taxi ride between the international airport and downtown San Jose is around $10 US. There are also plenty of Car rental agencies, most of which rent four-wheel drive vehicles.
MONEY & BANKING - There is an ample selection of state owned and privately held banks in San Jose and throughout the country. The official currency is the colon; however, US dollars are widely accepted. US dollars and traveller's checks can be changed in banks and hotels. Most major credit cards are widely accepted, and cash advances can be obtained at bank ATMs around the country.
MEDICAL SERVICES - The country has an up-to-date medical system with hospitals, clinics and complete medical services.