About Costa Rica
Area: 19,929 square miles
Capital: San Jose
Government type: Democratic republic
Language: Spanish (official), English
Literacy rate: 94.8%
Location: At 19,929 square miles, Costa Rica is slightly smaller in area than West Virginia, U.S. It borders Nicaragua on its north, Panama on the southeast, the Pacific Ocean on the west and southwest, and the Caribbean Sea on the northeast.
Major Religions: Roman Catholic (76.3%), Evangelical (13.7%)
Population (2002 est.): 3,834,934
About the weather in Costa Rica:
Be prepared for sunshine, rain, cool mountain breezes, and muggy jungle mists depending on where and when you visit our country. Due to our topography, we have a variety of microclimates. As you ascend or descend in altitude, or move from one province to another, our weather changes.
Our rainy season, which typically brings sunny mornings and afternoon showers, lasts from May to November, but it's best to be prepared for rain at any time of the year. In rain forests and cloud forests, it rains almost every day, sometimes several times per day. Costa Rica's beaches are hot and humid, except for the northwestern province of Guanacaste, which tends to be dry and breezy. To get more specific, refer to the information provided in your itinerary.
More info in www.imn.ac.cr
Government offices are open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Commercial offices are open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Stores and other businesses are open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Costa Rica offers superb craft items at affordable prices. Wooden and leather goods are excellent buys, and they are typically very well made. Wooden jewelry and jewelry boxes, utensils, serving bowls and other small ornaments can be easily transported home in your luggage. Leather purses, wallets, and briefcases are similar to those found in the other places, but at much better prices. Fresh roasted coffee beans are a popular buy, and can be purchased in elegant gift packaging. For the best deals, however, purchase coffee in a grocery store rather than a souvenir shop. You will get the same quality merchandise without inflated pricing. Silver, gold, and ceramic replicas of pre-Columbian artifacts also make great souvenirs, but think carefully before purchasing anything advertised as an antiquity. Customs will also seize most items involving furs, coral, tortoise shell, reptile skins, feathers, and plants.
Bargaining is not a common practice in Costa Rica, even at the stands of street vendors However, you can ask for "la feria" which is an extra object as a gift for the many you have purchased.
Remember to leave some extra space in your luggage when you are packing for your trip, so you can fit in your vacation purchases.
Like all Latin American countries, Costa Rica is predominantly Catholic, but churches of other denominations are found throughout the country.
Direct-dial telephone service, facsimile, telex, radio and cable television are all available. Bilingual operator assistance for international calls is - 116, local information - 113, long distance information - 124.
On the day of departure, travelers must be at the airport about two hours before the time their flight is scheduled to leave. There is a departure tax of US$26.00. There is a 13% sales tax at hotels, restaurants, and most service industries, and an additional 3% tourist tax at hotels.
Health care in Costa Rica is very good and sanitary standards are high. First aid assistance and access to hospitals are available throughout the country. However, you should bring sufficient supply of your prescribed medication if you are taking any. Travel insurance is advisable for refunds in your country of origin.
Spanish is officially spoken. English is the second language spoken in many areas throughout the country.
Costa Rica is in the same time zone as U.S. Central Standard Time.
January 1st: New Year's Day
March/April: Easter Week
April 11th: Juan Santamaría Day
May 1st: Worker Day
July 25th: Annexation of Guanacaste Day
August 15th: Mother's Day
September 15th: Independence Day
November 2nd: All Soul's Day
December 25th: Christmas Day