Costa Rica

Basic Facts

 

• Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica.
• A total of 4,889,826 people live in Costa Rica.
• Costa Rica is home to more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity, even though its land occupies a mere 0.03% of the Earth’s surface.
• Costa Rica’s owns approximately 580,000 kilometres squared of marine mass, which is about 10 times the size of the land area which belongs to the country.
• Costa Ricans are commonly known as “Ticos” (males) and “Ticas” (females).
• Less than 1 percent of Costa Ricans have indigenous roots.
• The Costa Rican coastline stretches along for 1289 kilometres.
• 7 of Costa Rica’s 121 volcanic formations are active.
• There are 750,000 species of insects in Costa Rica and about 20,000 of those are spiders.
• Around 25% of Costa Rica is made up of protected forests and reserves.
• Costa Rica’s capital city is San Jose.
• Average life expectancy is around 77 years, which is one of the highest life expectancy figures in the world.
• Costa Rica doesn’t have an army.
• The national currency is the Colon, but many stores and other establishments trade in US dollars.
• Costa Rica is home to around 52 species of hummingbirds.

 

Reasons to Visit Costa Rica

 

  • Make a difference — If you want to volunteer to help protect or conserve the environment in some way, visit Costa Rica. Straddling two oceans and two hemispheres, Costa Rica is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and needs all the help it can get to make sure that its natural environments are given the level of care and protection they need. Costa Rica is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity. These fragile ecosystems need to be taken care of.

  • Support a country worth supporting — Costa Rica has taken some broad steps over the past few decades. Steps that few countries seem prepared to take any time soon.When you visit Costa Rica, the money that is invested in the country from your visit helps to turn these bold statements into realities.

  • See it while you can — 26 percent of Costa Rica’s land mass is protected by wildlife conservation and environmental laws. However, there’s a lot of open space in Costa Rica which remains under threat from human influence.

Life in Costa Rica

 

Costa Rica is governed by a democratic government, with presidential elections taking place every four years. It is also one of the few countries in the world which doesn’t have a standing army. The Costa Rican army was abolished on 1st December 1948 and then that abolishment was made constant via the Political Constitution of 1949.

Education in Costa Rica is divided into three sectors: preschool, primary and secondary. Students finish their secondary education at the age of 18. Education in Costa Rica has been free since 1869, when free education became part of the political constitution of the time. It is ranked 20th in the world by the “Global competitiveness Report 2013-14”, which describes it as being an education of “high quality”. Costa Rica’s literacy rate is 94.9 percent, which is two points above the average of other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. As Costa Rica no longer has an army, the money which used to be invested in military training and arms is now invested in education.

Health is a real priority in Costa Rica. The World Health Organisation ranked Costa Rica higher than the United States in terms of health. Its life expectancy ranks within the top five countries of the Americas and many people travel to Costa Rica in search of high quality medical care, including dental surgery, plastic surgery and joint replacements.

 

Top destinations

 

Nosara and Playa Guiones — Nosara is a small, quiet, beach community which is perfect for surfers and anyone who loves to be close to nature. It’s benefitted from the protection of Costa Rica’s national park system as well as the local efforts of those who take care of the beaches on the ground on a day by day basis.

Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal and La Fortuna — One of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica is the Arenal Volcano, situated within the Arenal Volcano National Park. If you visit the small village of La Fortuna (meaning The Fortune) at the base of the volcano, you’ll be able to appreciate the full splendour of its beauty. There are also some wonderful natural thermal springs close by, where you can kick back and relax within a real tropical paradise location.

Puerto Viejo and Parque Nacional Cahuita — Puerto Viejo is the perfect place to try your hand at surfing or scuba diving. It’s also a great spot for mountain biking or horse-riding. The Cahuita National Park is home to some of the most beautiful and protected coral reef in the world, of a kind which can only be found within Costa Rican waters.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

Passport/ Visa Requirements

 

• Is a visa required?: Depending on your country of origin. For more information, please check this website: http://www.projectvisa.com
Allocation of Tourist Visa: Tourist Visa is received at the airport of San José
Duration of Tourist visa: Lasts up to 90 days
Cost of Tourist Visa: depending on country of origin
Tourist Visa Extension: It is possible to extend by leaving the country and flying in again or by paying an extension fee
Passport validation: Must be valid for at least 6 months
Return/onward flight ticket: Required upon entering the country
Confirmation of Funds: Declaration of sufficient funds will be required 

 

Money/Currency

 

Currency: Costa Rican Colones
Inform Banks: Give the dates of travel and destinations to prevent security blocks on your bank and credit cards
Cash: Always take enough cash to cover your expenses for the first week in case there is a problem with your bank cards or access to ATM’s is limited.
Credit Options: Good idea to have at least two different credit/debit card options i.e. MasterCard, Visa, Maestro, or Cirrus.
Travellers Cheques: Will only be able to exchange in major cities and best to take them in Dollars
• Western Union: If at any time you have any problems in accessing money you can use Western Union transfer. Money can be sent from your home country and received in Costa Rica the same day.

 

Healthcare

 

Vaccinations: Yellow Fever Vaccination required; Hepatitis A&B and Rabies recommended
Malaria medication: Not necessary
See local GP: If vaccinations or medication is required see the doctor 4-6 weeks before your departure
Less than 4 weeks before you leave: You should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines and other medications and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while travelling.
• Check the following for up to date information: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

TESTIMONIALS

''The three weeks I spent at the Turtle project was an incredible experience. I highly recommend the Sea Turtle program to anyone interested in biology, or just the beach!'' Volunteer program. Mike Leahy

 

''I had an amazing time. The language institution was awesome. The staff members were always there to help and I really loved my Spanish teacher, she made learning Spanish fun and easy.'' Spanish course. Michelle Appleby

 

''I am grateful for the personal attention I received at my language school. Unlike owners at other schools in Costa Rica (I went to two others), you made yourself known on a personal level to your students. Whether talking with us at break, arranging outtings etc., you ALWAYS had time for each of us. I will never forget your kindness and have a lot of respect for you and to your dedication to helping your students have the best possible experience available. The student housing is outrageous...clean, attractively decorated, and spacious. I truly enjoyed learning Spanish here and plan on returning someday soon.Your school scores the highest at the affective level! Spanish course. Christine Hendrix, USA

 

''My experiences while studying Spanish here were most beneficial for me as they were for all the other students I met during my stay in Tamarindo. This is why I can honestly state that all the teachers at the school have a thorough understanding of the Spanish language, and an incredible ability to share that with their students. I went there not knowing a single word of Spanish. After a few weeks of in-class studying as well as applying my skills with locals and practicing in the student house I left Costa Rica with a more than adequate ability to effectively communicate in the Spanish language. There were many other conveniences such as Internet access, and numerous weekend excursions to other parts of Costa Rica. These excursions enriched my understanding of the Costa Rican culture as well as enabling me to practice more of my language skills.'' Spanish course. Jeremy Shane, Canada