Costa Rica In Belief

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Peninsula Papagayo.
Peninsula Papagayo.

Land: Costa Rica, almost the size of West Virginia, stretches 288 miles north to south, with 631 miles of Pacific coastline and 132 miles on the Caribbean side. The total land mass is 19,750 sq. miles, and the neighboring countries are Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the east-southeast.

People: According to the CIA World Factbook (2013), Costa Rica has a population of 4,695,942, of which 94 percent are white or mestizo (mostly Spanish ancestry with significant number of Italian, German, Jewish and Italian descent). Three percent of the people are black, 1 percent Amerindian, and 1 percent other.

Capital: San Jose

Provinces: Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Punta Arenas and San Jose

Entry documents: For maximum stays of 90 days, no visa is required for U.S. or Canadian tourists, only a passport valid 30 days beyond the expected exit date.

Weather: The tourist high season, December through April, is also the dry season, and one can mostly depend on clear, sunny weather. The rainy season takes a while to get started in May, often diminishing totally in July. The rainy months in Guanacaste on the Pacific coast are October and November, and on the Caribbean coast, the only predictably dry months are September and October. Temperatures vary according to altitude: 50-60°F in the highlands; an average of 78°F in the Central Valley; and from 85-95°F at sea level.

Time: Same as U.S. Central Time (GMT-6); daylight savings time is not observed.

Language: Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken.

Health requirements: No immunizations are required at this time. Potable water is available at all lodging locations.

Country code: 506

Electric current: 110 volts, 60 cycles

Money matters: The currency unit is the Colon, and prices are quoted in colones (approximately 500 colones to US$1). ATMs are available at the airports and in major towns. All major credit cards are accepted; Visa is the most widely accepted, followed by MasterCard.

Shopping cart: The best buys in Costa Rica are reproductions of pre-Columbian gold jewelry, ceramics, masks carved by the indigenous Boruca people, and wood crafts from salad bowls to the signature painted oxcarts, coffee and coffee products.

Departure tax: $29

Information please: Costa Rica Institute of Tourism; (866) COSTA RICA or