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Costa Rica

From Wikitravel
Central America : Costa Rica
Revision as of 17:03, 7 August 2004 by William M Goetsch (Talk | contribs)

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Quick Facts
CapitalSan Jose
Governmentdemocratic republic
CurrencyCosta Rican colon (CRC)
Areatotal: 51,100 sq km
note: includes Isla del Coco
water: 440 sq km
land: 50,660 sq km
Population3,834,934 (July 2002 est.)
LanguageSpanish (official), English spoken around Puerto Limon
ReligionRoman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, other Protestant 0.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%

Costa Rica is a country in Central America. In the north it borders to Nicaragua and in the south to Panamá. To the west there is the Pacific and to the east the Caribbean.



Map of Costa Rica

Other destinations


Get in

By plane

Juan Santamaria Airport is located close to the cities Alajuela, Heredia and the capital San José.

By car

The Interamericana (Panamerican highway) runs through Costa Rica and is the main entry point by car. The border post in the north (to Nicaragua) is called Peñas Blancas and in the south (to Panamá) Paso Canoas.

By bus

There are bus services from the neighboring countries of Panamá, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

By boat

Get around


Spanish is the language used in Costa Rica, but in the tourist business, most people also speak fairly good English. If you look like a foreigner (most tourists do) people will usually address you in English.

Some Costa Rican expressions:
Pura vida means something like ok, cool, great, ++ and is used in every conversation, and usually also as the ending phrase of a conversation.


The local currency is Colón(es) named after Columbus (Spanish: Colón). The rate of change is about 450 Colones for 1 US Dollar (August 2004), but note that there is a growing inflation. You may find the current value at this currency conversion site. Also note that the use of US Dollars is quite common, in fact, in the tourist setting, almost everything is priced in Dollars.
You can find ATMs most places.
The most common souvenirs are made from wood.
You might get a discount (usually around 10%) when paying in cash.


Gallo pinto is mostly rice and beans. You can get it to breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Fresh fruit



Hotels in Costa Rica are more expensive than in its neighboring countries to the north.


You can learn Spanish in Costa Rica, but probably a lot cheaper in other countries, like Guatemala. Also be aware that the Costa Ricans have adopted a slightly us-English pronunciation on a lot of words, so you run the risk of getting that too, even if you're from some place else.


A lot of the eco-projects are seeking volunteers.

Stay safe

The traffic is dangerous, so take care.
The coasts of Costa Rica are known for strong currents and rip-tides. Take precaution and listen to the locals on where it is safe to swim.
Active volcanoes are dangerous, follow the directions given.

Stay healthy



The international calling code/country code for Costa Rica is 506.
A postage stamp to Europe is 125 Colones.

External links



Destination Docents

In other languages