costa rica beach

Costa Rica is a tropical country filled with beaches, rain forests, waterfalls, volcanoes, hot springs, and more!

Costa Rica is a developing country located in Central America.

Costa Rica’s military was abolished in 1948… peace man.

Public education in Costa Rica is free, widely available, and required by law.
Costa Rica’s literacy rate is 96%. I don’t know how they came up with that figure or how they qualify “literacy.”

Costa Rica has active and extinct volcanoes as well as frequent earthquakes.
Over 25% of Costa Rica’s land area is located in protected national parks or protected areas. Protecting the protected lands has proved to be difficult.
Costa Rica aims to become the first carbon neutral country by 2021.

Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus, and is bordered by Nicaragua, Panama, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Costa Rica is not in South America. Costa Rica is not an island. There is no Atlantic Coast in Costa Rica because Costa Rica is not bordered by the Atlantic. Costa Rica and Puerto Rico are not the same thing. There is no such place as Costa Rico.

costa rica map of provinces

Costa Rica map of provinces

Total = 51,100 km2 (19,653 sq miles)
Costa Rica consists of 0.03% of earth’s landmass yet it has 6% of earth’s total biodiversity.
The country is divided into seven provinces: Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas, and San José.

San Jose

Democratic republic

Total: $35.780 billion
Per capita: $7,843 (2010 est.)

Costa Rican colón (CRC)
Exchange rate with the USD is around 500 colones to the dollar.
Daily exchange rate can be found here: Costa Rica exchange rate

costa rica flag

Costa Rica flag

Costa Ricans are called Ticos.

4,253,897 (July 2010 est.)


Roman Catholic 70.5%, Evangelical Protestants 13.8%, None 11.3%, Other 4.3%

Costa Rica coat of arms

Costa Rica coat of arms

Prime Industries
Pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, software development, and ecotourism

120V/60Hz (same as US)

Calling Code

Internet TLD

Time Zone
UTC -6 (no changes for DST)


Costa Rica is close to the equator and experiences a tropical climate year round. The two seasons are divided according to rainfall: wet or rainy, also known as winter or low season (May to November) and dry, also known as summer or high season (December to April).

Costa Rica has a lot of microclimates and they vary according to elevation, rainfall, topography, and geography. Most websites will tell you that the temperatures throughout the country remain between 60 and 80, which is not exactly true. Sometimes it gets down into the 50s or up into the 90s. The lower temperatures being found in the higher, windier elevations, and the hotter temps being found along the coasts or even in the Central Valley (for example, the city of Alajuela).

It is also important to note that the Caribbean experiences an opposite weather pattern from the rest of the country. For most of Costa Rica, September and October are the rainiest months, while the Caribbean experiences its lowest rainfall during these months.

Tipping in Costa Rica

Restaurants add a 13% sales tax plus a 10% service charge to the bill. This 10% service charge is barely enough to keep your waiter fed. Please tip them extra — up to 10% more is a good tip.

Costa Rica Vaccinations and Health Information

There are no required inoculations for Costa Rica. If you can’t handle this bit of info, check with your physician and I’m sure they will be happy to vaccinate you against a rainbow of diseases. See the CDC’s advice for Costa Rica for more information.

Tap water is safe to drink and quite tasty in certain areas, but not everywhere. Ask the locals for advice before you go guzzling the agua, although take that with a grain of salt – one of my neighbors likes to tell me to boil my water with Clorox to be sure to “clean it.” Gross.

High quality, well-equipped, inexpensive medical facilities can be found throughout Costa Rica. In fact, medical tourism is quite popular.

Life expectancy in Costa Rica is 79 years. …I wonder what this number is now that all the fast food chains have sprouted up on every corner…

Costa Rica Entry and Exit requirements

2013 update: Things they are a’changin’ – the “rules” below don’t necessarily apply anymore. Everything is a little gray right now and most decisions are left to the border guard letting you in or out of the country. For more info, check out this entire post I wrote on Costa Rica entry and exit requirements.

You must have a valid passport that does not expire within 6 months to enter Costa Rica. Most airlines require that you have a ticket leaving Costa Rica before they allow you to fly to Costa Rica. Check with your airline for more details.

Visitors must pay a $28 USD departure tax before exiting the country, payable by cash or Visa only (will be charged as a cash withdrawal if paying with Visa). This can be done at the airport or the border before your actual departure date. You can also get this done at any BCR, Banco de Costa Rica. Last time I did it, the charge was $29 – one extra dollar for doing it at the bank. It’s convenient, though.

A 30 or 90-day visa is automatically granted (it’s the stamp in your passport book) upon entry for most (see list of countries below for clarification). If you are only granted a 30-day visa, you can go to the immigration office and apply for an extension after you arrive to Costa Rica.

Citizens with valid passports from the following countries are granted a 90-day visa in Costa Rica upon arrival:

Germany, Andorra, Argentina, Australia*, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark*, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, United States*, Estonia, Finland, France*, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Norway*, New Zealand*, Netherlands*, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Principality Of Monaco, San Marino, Puerto Rico, Serbia, South Africa, United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland **, Czech Republic, Republic Of South Korea, Hellenic Republic (Greece), Romania, Vatican City, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Republic Of China (Taiwan), Trinidad And Tobago and Uruguay

* Dependencies also receive 90-day visa

** Includes England, Wales and Scotland

Citizens with valid passports from the following countries are granted 30-day visas upon arrival to Costa Rica:

Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Bolivia, Dominica, El Salvador, Russian Federation, Philippines, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Northern Marianas, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Maldives, Mauritius, Federated States Of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Kingdom Of Tonga, Samoa, Saint Kitts And Nevis, Saint Vincent And The Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Sao Tome And Principe, Seychelles, Suriname, Tuvalu, Turkey, Vanuatu and Venezuela