Costa Rica

Understand

Costa Rica is officially known as the Republic of Costa Rica

Since the late 1980's Costa Rica became a popular nature travel destination, and its main competitive advantage is its well-established system of national parks and protected areas, covering around 23.4% of the country's land area, the largest in the world as a percentage of the country's territory, and home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, in a country that has only 0.03% of the world's landmass, but that is estimated to contain 5% of the world's biodiversity. The country also has plenty of world renowned beaches, both in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, within short travel distances between both coasts both by air and land, and also several active volcanoes that can be visited with safety.

By the early 1990s, Costa Rica became known as the poster child of ecotourism. According to the Costa Rican Tourism Board, 46% of international tourists visiting the country in 2009 engaged in activities related to ecotourism, including trekking, flora, fauna, and bird watching, and visits to rural communities. However, most visitors look for adventure activities, which Costa Rica offers as well. Costa Rica was included by Ethical Traveler magazine in the 2011 and the 2012 list of The Developing World's 10 Best Ethical Destinations.

Costa Rica historically managed to stay away from the political turmoil and violence from which neighbouring nations still suffer. The nation constitutionally abolished its army permanently in the 1940s. It has also managed to be the only Latin American country included in the list of the world's 22 oldest democracies, paying homage to its stance as a peaceful and politically stable nation. Costa Rica has also consistently been among the top Latin American countries in the Human Development Index, and is cited by the UNDP as one of the countries that has attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels.

Costa Rica is ranked third in the world and first among the Americas in terms of the 2010 Environmental Performance Index. And the New Economics Foundation NEF ranked Costa Rica as the happiest nation in the world, both in 2009 and in 2012. This same organization NEF ranked Costa Rica as the "greenest" country in the world.

This nation has bewilderingly diverse culture, climates, flora, fauna, and landscapes. From rain forests, to dry tropical and temperate forests, to volcanoes, to Caribbean and Pacific beaches, to high mountains, and marshy lowlands.

Climate

Because Costa Rica is located between eight and 12 degrees north of the Equator, the climate is Tropical year round. However, the country has many microclimates depending on elevation, rainfall, topography, and by the geography of each particular region.

Costa Rica's seasons are defined by how much rain falls during a particular period and not to the four seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. The year can be split into two periods, the dry season known to the residents as summer, and the rainy season, known locally as winter. The "summer" or dry season goes from December to April, and "winter" or rainy season goes from May to November, which almost coincides with the List of Atlantic hurricane seasons, and during this time, it rains constantly in some regions.

The location receiving the most rain is the Caribbean slopes of the Central Cordillera mountains, with an annual rainfall of over 5000 mm. Humidity is also higher on the Caribbean side than on the Pacific side. The mean annual temperature on the coastal lowlands is around 27°C, 20°C in the main populated areas of the Central Cordillera, and below 10°C on the summits of the highest mountains.

Costa Rica Weather Averages

Months January February March April May June July August September October November December
High Temperature C 27 27 28 28 27 27 27 27 26 26 26 26
Low Temperature C 17 18 18 18 18 18 18 18 17 18 18 18
Precipitation mm 6.3 10.2 13.8 79.9 267.6 280.1 181.5 276.9 355.1 330.6 135.5 33.5
Average Percent Sunshine 40 37 39 33 25 20 21 22 20 22 25 34
Flora and fauna

Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular destinations for eco-tourists because of its biodiversity. Costa Rica possesses the greatest density of species in the world, and around 25% of its national territory is protected by a system of conservation areas and national parks. It has been stated in various places that Costa Rica may contain as much as 6% of the world's plant and animal species. Both tropical plant and animal species abound in Costa Rica. Some of the more impressive plants range from huge ficus trees with epiphytes abounding on their limbs to approximately 1500 different orchids. The animals are equally as impressive, whether it's a jaguar the largest cat in the New World, the ever-elusive Margay, or the wonderful birds like the green or scarlet macaws lapas in Costa Rican Spanish. The amphibians are also quite impressive; the poison dart frogs with their bright colors are bound to catch your attention, or the giant cane toads.

History

Costa Rica constitutionally and permanently abolished its army in 1949.

Geography

Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus, lying between latitudes 8° and 12°N, and longitudes 82° and 86°W. It has a total of 1,290 kilometres 800 mi of coastline, 212km 132 mi on the Caribbean coast and 1,016km 631 mi on the Pacific.

Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua to the north 309km or 192 mi of border and Panama to the south-southeast 639km or 397 mi of border. In total, Costa Rica comprises 51,100 square kilometres 19,700 sq mi plus 589 square kilometres 227 sq mi of territorial waters.

The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó, at 3,819 metres 12,530 ft; it is the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano 3,431m or 11,257 ft. The largest lake in Costa Rica is Lake Arenal.

Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island 24 square kilometres / 9.3 square miles stands out because of its distance from the continental landmass, 480km 300 mi from Puntarenas, but Calero Island is the largest island of the country 151.6 square kilometres / 58.5 square miles.

Near 25% of Costa Rica's national territory is protected by SINAC the National System of Conservation Areas, which oversees all of the country's protected areas.