COSTA RICA ESSENTIALS
Location: One of the smallest countries in Central America, Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua and Panama (north and south, respectively) and by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea (west and east).
Population: About 4 million inhabitants.
Language: The official language is Spanish. However English is widely spoken.
Currency: The official currency is the colon, more widely accepted than dollars. Many businesses accept U.S. dollars, and currency can be exchanged at banks and hotels. Credit cards are accepted too, but remember to always carry local currency, especially at smaller businesses.
Government: Costa Rica is a democratic republic and elections are held every four years. The country abolished the army almost 50 years ago, and has since been the most stable democracy in Central America . The head of the country is the president. The government is divided into three branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial.
Education: Costa Rica has one of the highest literacy rates in Latin America , and education is public and free.
Entry requirements: A valid passport is necessary. Citizens of some countries require visa, so check ahead before travelling.
Climate: There are two seasons, the dry season (summer) from December to April, and the rainy season (winter) from May to November. The temperature varies between the mountains and the lowlands. In the Central Valley temperatures range between 60 – F and 79 – F. On the Coasts the tropical temperatures hover between 70 – F and 90 – F. The Caribbean coast has high humidity and the Guanacaste region is arid.
Time: 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. (Equal to Central Time Zone in United States during the months of October-April and Mountain Time during the months April-October, due to Costa Rica not participating in Daylight savings time).
Opening Times: Banks are open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and some are open Saturday morning. Most public museums are closed on Monday. Stores are usually open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Transportation: The most common public transportation is the bus, and service is good and inexpensive.
Communications: Good public telephone service is available through the country. Most require phone cards, which are sold in many shops. Internet cafes are found everywhere and are generally expensive. The postal system is efficient and you will find post offices everywhere.
Health Care: Costa Rica has the most efficient and developed medical services in Central America . The medical system has been socialised for nearly 50 years. Public and private clinics and hospitals are found all over the country, and many doctors speak English. The country has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in Latin America and a life expectancy of 76 years for both men and women. It has a very low risk of malaria diseases or any other type of diseases. Vaccination is unnecessary.
Food and Water: Water is safe to drink in most areas of the country. You can buy bottled water in every supermarket. Travelling in Costa Rica is generally safe in terms of health risks. The country’s typical food includes seafood, meats, vegetables, tropical fruits and plates prepared with corn. International cuisine is also available around the country, including Japanese, Egyptian, Arabian, Chinese, Mexican, Italian and many other cuisines.
Main Cities: The country is divided into seven provinces: San Jose (the capital), Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Guanacaste, Puntarenas, and Limon.
CORIPORT, the company that manages the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Costa Rica’s northwestern Guanacaste province, announced it will expand the terminal in coming months prompted by a significant increase in passenger traffic.
Work at the terminal, located in the canton of Liberia near many of the country’s popular northern Pacific beaches, will include the expansion of current waiting and baggage claim areas as well as new spaces for shops and offices that will extend the terminal’s area by 20 percent, the company reported.
The expansion represents an investment of $10.3 million and is scheduled to begin during the second quarter of this year. The airport’s administrator expects work to be completed by the second quarter of 2017.
CORIPORT General Manager César Jaramillo said, “Liberia has grown as a tourist destination, and this reflects in the increase of routes and seats, as well as the arrival of new flights at the terminal.”
Jaramillo also confirmed that during the second half of this year the company will launch operations for a cargo terminal aimed at facilitating businesses for exporters and importers, mostly from the northwestern region of Costa Rica.
The Liberia airport last year received a total of 888,227 passengers – 98,352 more than in 2014. That figure represents an increase of 12.4 percent.
The terminal saw its busiest months in January, March and December. During each of those three months the airport facilitated the transit of more than 100,000 passengers.
Three airlines – two from the U.S. – launched operations in Liberia last year. SouthWest Airlines opened a route from Houston, and Alaska Airlines is now flying from Los Angeles. British carrier Thomson Airways also opened a direct flight from London.
BASIC TRAVEL TIPS IN COSTA RICA
What to wear and bring: Costa Rica has many different climates, geographical variations and weather conditions. It is important to bring basic luggage in order to avoid difficulties. Don’t forget: loose fitting shirts, sweater or jacket for cold weather (especially if you are planning to go to the highlands), bathing suit, pants, insect repellent, sun screen, hat, comfortable shoes (hiking shoes are recommended in mountainous regions), binoculars, camera, sun glasses and raincoat.
Take note: Addresses in Costa Rica are given by using reference points instead of numbered addresses and street names. When looking for restaurants, malls, parks, churches or other locations, give directions by using distance in meters from notable points, objects or buildings, as well as cardinal points (north, south, east and west). One block is equal to 100 meters, no matter how long it really is! For example, 200 meters north, 100 meters east of the Plaza de la Cultura‚ means 2 blocks north and one block east of the Plaza de la Cultura.
Remember, this country protects its natural resources with strict laws, it is forbidden to take anything from protected areas, including flora and fauna, or even rocks. Please dispose of garbage in the proper receptacles, and remember that others will follow your example