Costa Rica General Information
 

Topography:

It is located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama. A series of volcanic mountain chains run from northwest to southeast dividing the country in two. In the central area, there is a plateau, called Valle Central. The Atlantic coast is 132 miles and the Pacific one is 635 miles. There are 112 volcanic craters and some of these are still active.  Poas Volcano has the biggest crater in the world and Arenal is one of the most active volcanoes in existence.


Coordinates:

10 00 N 84 00 W from Ecuador line


Area:

Total 51,100 sq Km, including Coco’s Island territory (Land 50,660 sq km & water 440 sq km)


Land Boundaries:

Nicaragua 309 km & Panama 330 km


Capital:

San Jose


Climate:

It is a tropical country and it only has two seasons: dry season (December to April) and rainy season (May to November).  The Caribbean coast tends to be humid year round and the coastal towns are very hot and humid.  Temperature can range from 15C° (60’s F) at night, to the 30C° (90’s F) during the day, being hotter near the coasts.


Population:

Costa Rica has a population of 4,509.290 inhabitants. More than 50% live on the Valle Central, which covers only 4% of the whole Country.


Literacy rate:

98%, both in cities and in the rest of the country.


Life expectancy:

79 years


Language:

The official language is Spanish, but English is often spoken.


Religion:

The country is chiefly Catholic, but other religions are present: Hebrew, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Anglican among others.
Catholic mass is usually offered during Saturdays evenings or Sundays all over, but at the countryside, these services can be offered once a month sometimes.


Government:

Costa Rica is a republic and the government is elected democratically every 4 years.


Hospitals:

Sanitary assistance is very good and the standards are very high. Private clinics and public hospitals are to be found in all San José and in the more heavily populated zones of the country, there are many private clinics specialized in Orthodontics and in plastic surgery.


Universities:

After secondary studies most students go on to University.  There are both state and several private universities.
Good number laureates go on to specialization in the Universities of the United States & Europe.


Electricity:

110 volts is found nation wide.  European plugs are not suitable for Costa Rica sockets: one must have an ”American type” adaptor or request it at hotel or in advance to your travel coordinator.


Water:

It is safe to drink it in all areas of the country.  Only in the Limon area it is advisable to drink bottled water.


Communications:

Direct dial telephone service, fax telex and Internet with Email are available in most of the touristy areas. The telephone system is automatic.
Cell phone communication might have problems out of the Central Valley, but usually satellite phones might work, once you have negotiated this service with your phone provider.


Industries:

Electronics, food processing, apparel, medical devices, construction materials, plastic products among others.


Unemployment rate:

Around 3.4% by 2011


Patriotic Symbols:

Flag

Costa Rican flag - Bandera de Costa Rica

In the school, we usually learn that the colors of this beautiful flag were inspired in the French one. And they are supposed to mean:

Blue: the sky above this little piece of paradise and the human goal when looking for the highest ideals.

White: the peace that exists in Costa Rica and the purity of their ideals.

Red: energy, courage, and selflessness with which Costa Ricans defend their principles and ideals: as its democratic way of life. Also the warmth of our people that welcomes visitors from other countries.

National Anthem of Costa Rica

 Lyrics by José María Zeledón B.
Music by Manuel María Gutiérrez

Noble patria, tu hermosa bandera,
expresión de tu vida nos da;
bajo el límpido azul de tu cielo
blanca y pura descansa la paz.

En la lucha tenaz de fecunda labor
que enrojece del hombre la faz,
conquistaron tus hijos -labriegos sencillos-
eterno prestigio, estima y honor (bis).

¡Salve, oh tierra gentil!
¡Salve, oh madre de amor!.
Cuando alguno pretenda tu gloria manchar,
verás a tu pueblo, valiente y viril,
la tosca herramienta en arma trocar.

¡Salve, oh Patria!, tu pródigo suelo,
dulce abrigo y sustento nos da;
bajo el límpido azul de tu cielo,
¡vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz!

Coat of Arms

Costa Rican Great Seal - Escudo Nacional de Costa Rica

 The basis of the current National Coat of Arms of Costa Rica was adopted September 29, 1848 during the presidency of Dr. Jose Maria Castro Madriz together with the new flag. Both designs are attributed to Pacifica Fernandez, wife of Mr. Castro Madriz.

 We have had different coats since then, but on May 5, 1998, by Executive Decree No. 26853-SP, the coat of arms was given its current form.

As officially described the coat of arms represent: three volcanoes (one for each of the three mountain ranges in the country) and an extensive valley between two oceans (Pacific Ocean and Caribbean) with a merchant ship in each one (representing the maritime history of the country). In the horizon a rising sun. All surrounded by a golden frame representing the golden bead (coffee). Two palms close the arms joined by a white ribbon with the leyend "Republica de Costa Rica" in gold. An arch of seven stars represent the provinces of the republic. The arms are crowned by a blue ribbon with the leyend "America Central".

National Tree

Guanacaste tree - Árbol de Guanacaste

Guanacaste

Scientific name: enterolobium cyclocarpurm
Executive Decree: number 7 from August 31st, 1959

National Bird

National bird from Costa Rica - Ave nacional de Costa Rica

Yigüirro

Scientific name: Turdus Grayi
Executive Decree: number 6031 from January 3rd, 1977

National Flower

Costa Rica National Flower - Flor Nacional de Costa Rica

Purple orquid

Scientific name: Guarianthe Skinneri (known before as Cattleya Skinneri)
Executive Decree: number 24 from June 15th, 1939

Symbol of Culture and Tradition

 National musical instrument (instrumento nacional), Costa Rica

The marimba has historically been linked to all social activities and cultural life of our people, so it is present at religious and folkloric activities or festivals, especially accompanying folkloric dancers to give boost to the show.

Executive Decree: number 25114-C from September 3rd, 1996

National Mean of Transportation

Costa Rica National Mean of Transportation - Medio de transporte Símbolo Patrio

The oxcart

It symbolizes the culture, peace and work of Costa Ricans, in other words, the humility, patience, sacrifice, and perseverance in the quest to achieve the objectives.

Its history goes back to the mid-nineteenth century, when given the extent of coffee, with muddy terrain and rugged slopes during the months of hauling and harvesting. By this time, our people gave a broad preference to solid wheel carts, to prevent accumulation of mud between the spokes.

Its use is not unique to Costa Rica, is used throughout Central America. However, in Costa Rica is the only place where it is decorated with geometric shapes, flowers and animals. In fact, although the decorations have obvious similarities, there are no oxcarts exactly painted alike, as there are changes in the details and arrangement of the drawings.

Executive Decree: number 18197-C from March 22nd, 1988

Natural Fauna Symbol

Costa Rican National Fauna Symbol - Símbolo de la Fauna Nacional de Costa Rica

White-tailed deer

Scientific name: Odocoileus virginianus
Decreed by law: number 7497 from May 2nd, 1997

This deer is medium, thin and with long legs. Its color is brown and the inside is white. Its name comes from his short white tail.

In Costa Rica is hard to see, because it is a specie in danger of extinction due to the poaching for his meat or its antlers.

It can be found mainly in the Santa Rosa National Park, in the province of Guanacaste. However, due to its easy adaptation to the environment it was introduced in Coco's Island and it can be found elsewhere in the country.

Natural Richness Symbol

Natural Richness Symbol (símbolo de riqueza natural), Costa Rica

Los Crestones, Chirripo National Park

Decreed by law: number 8943 from September 5th, 2011.

To raise awareness of natural and economic value that can lead the country to promote natural beauty.
The hills "The Crestones" are located in the Talamanca Mountain Range, one of the longest in the country with 190 kilometers of length, specifically in the Chirripo National Park, declared World Heritage by UNESCO and in addition, this protected area is part of the conservation area: International Biosphere ReserveLa Amistad-Pacific, which Costa Rica shares with Panama. The Crestones are located 3,720 meters high. Formed by a process of folding of the earth's crust, resembling gigantic and impressive "fingers" of rock up to 60 meters high, made up by igneous material.

Río Celeste waterfall, Costa Rica (©Andrea Fallas)

Why Costa Rica BTD?

Costa Rica BTD takes the stress out of travel planning and ensures a memorable vacation experience.

Because a knowledgeable travel consultant can simplify the vacation planning process, by providing updated information of the best services and hotels to fulfill your needs and desires.
Costa Rica BTD manages all the logistics to ensure that you fully enjoy the  very best of Costa Rica offerings.

Costa Rica's Political Division

Costa Rica's political division starts with 7 provinces, divided as well in counties and districts. Below you can find a more detailed information:

Province Name

 Number of counties

Number of districts

 

San Jose

20

120

 

Cartago

8

51

 

Heredia

10

46

 

Alajuela

15

109

 

Guanacaste

11

59

 

Puntarenas

11

57

 

Limon

6

56

 

     

 

 Totals

81 

498  

 

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Independence Torch (Antorcha de la Independencia), Costa Rica 

The Torch of Independence was declared a national symbol, as representing the ideal of freedom and independence that connects Costa Rica with its brothers in Central America on September 14th, 2005, according to decree No. 32647-C, under the administration of Dr. Abel Pacheco de la Espriella. Signing in the City of Cartago, in addition, the Minister of Culture and Youth, Guido Sáenz and the Minister of Education, Manuel Antonio Bolaños.

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