He who would travel happily must travel light.
— Antoine de Saint Exupéry, 1900 - 1944
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Costa Rica

Background

Costa Rica

Although explored by the Spanish early in the 16th century, initial attempts at colonizing Costa Rica proved unsuccessful due to a combination of factors, including disease from mosquito-infested swamps, brutal heat, resistance by natives, and pirate raids. It was not until 1563 that a permanent settlement of Cartago was established in the cooler, fertile central highlands. The area remained a colony for some two and a half centuries. In 1821, Costa Rica became one of several Central American provinces that jointly declared their independence from Spain. Two years later it joined the United Provinces of Central America, but this federation disintegrated in 1838, at which time Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence. Since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred the country's democratic development. Although it still maintains a large agricultural sector, Costa Rica has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism industries. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.

About

Costa Rica is a country in Central America. In the north it borders Nicaragua and in the southeast Panama. To the west, there is the Pacific Ocean and to the east, the Caribbean Sea.

Read more about Costa Rica in our Costa Rica travel guide »

Featured journals from

Costa Rica

Featured hotels in

Costa Rica

Costa RicaJW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa 

Playa Mansita, Hacienda Pinilla
Pinilla
Costa Rica

Price (US$): $330 - $539 / night

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Location. JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa is located on the beach in Pinilla, close to Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course and Avellana Beach. Other points of interest are Tamarindo Beach and Grande Beach. Resort Features. Dining options at JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa include 4 restaurants. A poolside bar and a bar/lounge are open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The resort serves buffet breakfasts (surcharges apply). Recreational amenities include an outdoor… more »

Costa RicaArenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort 

Playa Playitas Manuel Antonio
Quepos
Manuel Antonio 311-6350
Costa Rica

Price (US$): $550 - $551 / night

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Location. Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort is located on the beach in Manuel Antonio, close to Manuel Antonio National Park. Resort Features. Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort's restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A bar/lounge is open for drinks. Room service is available. The resort serves a complimentary breakfast. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool. The property's full service health spa has body treatments, massage/treatment rooms, and… more »

Costa RicaReserva Conchal 

Playa Conchal
Brasilito 91-5150
Costa Rica

Price (US$): $535 - $536 / night

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Location. Reserva Conchal is located on the beach in Brasilito's Conchal neighborhood, close to Conchal Beach, Flamingo Beach, and Playa Brasilito. Other points of interest are Penca Beach and Las Baulas de Guanacaste National Marine Park. Hotel Features. Dining options at Reserva Conchal include 2 restaurants. A poolside bar and a bar/lounge are open for drinks. Room service is available during limited hours. The hotel serves a complimentary cooked to order breakfast. Recreational amenities… more »

Costa RicaShana Hotel and Residence 

Road to Punta Quepos
Manuel Antonio
Costa Rica

Price (US$): $189 - $356 / night

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Location. Located in Manuel Antonio, Shana Hotel and Residence is by the ocean and close to Manuel Antonio National Park. Hotel Features. Shana Hotel and Residence's restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A bar/lounge is open for drinks. Room service is available. The hotel serves a complimentary continental breakfast. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool and a spa tub. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in public areas. Wedding services, concierge… more »

Costa RicaNayara Hotel Spa & Gardens 

7 km West from La Fortuna Town Road 142
the entrance to the Volcano Lodge
Fortuna
Costa Rica

Price (US$): $244 - $360 / night

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Location. Located in Fortuna, Nayara Hotel Spa & Gardens is near the airport and close to Arenal Volcano National Park. Hotel Features. Nayara Hotel Spa & Gardens features 3 bars/lounges, a poolside bar, and a swim up bar. Room service is available. The hotel serves a complimentary buffet breakfast each morning in the restaurant. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool and a health club. The property's full service health spa has body treatments, massage/treatment rooms, and facials.… more »

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Costa Rica

Full name
Republic of Costa Rica
Capital
San José
Location

Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama

Geographic coordinates

10 00 N, 84 00 W

Area comparative

slightly smaller than West Virginia

Border countries

Nicaragua 309 km, Panama 330 km

Coastline

1,290 km

Climate

tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November); cooler in highlands

Terrain

coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major volcanoes

Lowest point

Pacific Ocean 0 m

Highest point

Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m

Natural resources

hydropower

Population

4,516,220 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

white (including mestizo) 94%, black 3%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1%, other 1%

Religions

Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%

Languages

Spanish (official), English

Government type

democratic republic

Independence

15 September 1821 (from Spain)

National holiday

Independence Day, 15 September (1821)

Chief of state

President Laura CHINCHILLA Miranda (since 8 May 2010); First Vice President Alfio PIVA Mesen (since 8 May 2010); Second Vice President Luis LIBERMAN Ginsburg (since 8 May 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Head of government

President Laura CHINCHILLA Miranda (since 8 May 2010); First Vice President Alfio PIVA Mesen (since 8 May 2010); Second Vice President Luis LIBERMAN Ginsburg (since 8 May 2010)

Internet country code

.cr

Internet users

1.485 million (2009)

Airports

151 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Caldera, Puerto Limon

Other countries in the region