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Costa Rica Profile

Few countries can match Costa Rica's combination of extraordinary natural beauty, gentle tropical climate, gracious hospitality, and political stability. Costa Rica is truly one of a kind. With no standing army and a well-established tradition of democracy, Costa Rica stands apart from its neighbors in Central America and the Caribbean.

Costa Rica boasts a well-developed tourism industry. It has been particularly successful at pioneering and promoting eco-tourism. Costa Rica enjoys many natural advantages. The country has more than 850 species of birds (more variety than all of Western Europe) and hundreds of tropical plants found nowhere else. The topography ranges from cool "cloud forests" in the mountainous plateau to lush untamed jungles in the lowlands. There are also miles of uncrowded beaches on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Costa Rican Macaw In addition, the Costa Rican people have contributed greatly to the success of their tourism industry. The country's universities have turned out legions of botanists, biologists, zoologists, and other highly trained professionals to expand and protect eco-tourism. At the same time, the government has extended its national park system to cover roughly one-quarter of the country's territory.

San Jose is Costa Rica's capital, as well as its economic and cultural hub. The city's restaurants, museums, theaters, and vibrant nightlife offer travelers a full range of urban attractions. However, Costa Rica's real tourist magnets lie beyond the city.

Among the favorite destinations is the Monteverde rain forest. Straddling the continental divide at an altitude of more than 4500 feet, Monteverde is considered one of the world's most remarkable wildlife refuges. Among its claims to fame, the rainforest is home to at least 30 species of hummingbirds and 400 species of orchids.

In recent years, Costa Rica has added cruise ship ports on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. On the Atlantic side, Puerto Limon has a distinctly Caribbean flavor. The port is well-placed as a launching point for tours that explore the Tortuguero National Park, famous as a nesting group for several species of sea turtles. There are also plenty of opportunities for snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, and other watersports.

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