Costa Rica Travel Guide: Travel tips for foreigners & backpackers, San Jose tourist information, Costa Rica food average prices, eating on a budget, accommodation in San Jose. Find discount hotels, cheap accommodation, vacation deals, holiday packages.
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Costa Rica Travel Guide

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Full country name: Republic of Costa Rica
Area: 51,100 sq km
Population: 4,52 milion (July 2010 est.)
Capital City: San Jose
Language: Spanish (official), English
Religion: Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%
Government: Democratic republic
Time Zone: UTC/GMT - 6
Dialling Code: 506
Electricity: 120V 60 Hz
Weights & measures: The metric system is the legal standard, but local measures also are used.

Money & Costs:
Currency: Costa Rican colon (CRC)
Average yearly salary: USD 10,900

Budget: $2-4
Mid-range: $15-20
High: $20+
Budget: $10-30
Mid-range: $30-70
High: $70+

Geography: Costa Rica is a country located in Central America. It borders Nicaragua, Panama, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Costa Rica also comprises of several tiny islands. The country's geography has a long history of cataclysm. It experienced earthquakes, floods and volcanoes, that shaped its landscape. The country's terrain comprises of black and white sand beaches, soaring mountains, beautiful rivers and powerful waterfalls.

Climate: Costa Rica is a country which contains several distinct climatic zones, however, tropical climate is dominating year round. There are two main seasons, that are called the dry season or summer, according to the locals, (December – April) and a rainy season or winter (May – November). The average yearly temperature in the coastal region ranges from 21 C (69 F) to 27 C (80 F), whereas the mountainous regions have only about 10 C (50 F) throughout the year.

Recommended clothing: Lightweight cotton clothes are recommended for the coastal region. Denim is much too hot to wear near the beach areas even in the evenings, therefore sarongs or light cashmere shawls are recommended. Choose warmer clothes if you are heading to the mountainous regions. You should avoid wearing jewelry, since there are many thieves.

Social conventions: You should note, that Christian names are usually preceded by Señor (man) or Señora (woman). Don (man) and Doña (woman) are used to address a highly respected person. Gifts are appreciated when visiting someone’s home, especially if invited for a meal.

Health: Medical care in Costa Rica is of a high quality, however, only emergency medical treatment is without charge for visitors. Dengue Fever is observed in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since there is no vaccine or immunization to prevent the illness, you should try to avoid mosquito bites by using the repellents.

Food & Drink: The main dish in Costa Rican cooking is gallo pinto (black beans with rice), referred to as comida tipica. It may seam to be a simple and standard dish, but nobody else, only Costa Rican can prepare it as good as they do. Though Costa Rican use a lot of oils high in saturated fats, generally, the cuisine is quite healthy, especially when you combine it with active lifestyle. The meals are often served with a lot of fruits or vegetables, therefore they are generally high in fiber.
Costa Rica has no national drink, however horchata, a cinnamon-flavored cornmeal (or ground rice) drink, could pretend to be one. Coffee is Costa Rica's grano d'oro (grain of gold) and is traditionally served strong and mixed with milk. You should note that ordering coffee with milk (cafe con leche), will get you a fifty-fifty drink, so if you want a black coffee with milk, order cafe sin leche. Vodka and gin are highly recommended when talking about alcohol, however, whiskey is not so good. The most common favorite local mix is Cuba libre. It is recommended to avoid local wines, because all you'll remember about it is the hangover.

Public Holidays:
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Mar 19 Day of St. Joseph (Costa Rica's patron saint)
Apr 11 Anniversary of the Battle of Rivas
May 1 Labor Day
Jun 29 Day of St. Peter and St. Paul
Jul 25 Anniversary of the Annexation of Guanacaste
Aug 2 Feast of Our Lady of the Angels
Aug 15 Assumption (Mother's Day)
Sep 15 Independence Day
Oct 12 Columbus Day
Dec 8 Immaculate Conception
Dec 1 Abolition of Armed Forces Day
Dec 25 Christmas

Note: Movable religious holidays include Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Corpus Christi.

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. The content of this page is not intended to substitute for advice given by the user's own government travel departments or a licensed travel health advisor. The viewer/user of this web page should always contact the user's own government representatives in that area for the most up-to-date information at that time, before making a final decision to travel to that country or destination.

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