Rica Tourist Facts.
Spanish is the official language. English is spoken in tourist areas throughout
Electricity. 110-volt AC is found nationwide. A few outlying
areas use their own power source so check ahead before traveling.
Water. The water is safe to drink in all areas of the
Currency Exchange. The official currency is the Colon
and is easier to use than dollars. The currency rate fluctuates every
day without notice. US dollars are accepted throughout the country, except
in small villages, where local currency is required. You can exchange
money at the International Airport, banks and hotels receptions.
Credit Cards and Travelers Checks. Most major credit cards are accepted
throughout the country, but some smaller businesses will only accept local
Time Zone. Costa Rica is the same as US Central Standard
Time (GMT -6), but does not observe daylight savings time.
Business Hours. Government offices are open from 8:00
a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Commercial offices are open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Stores and other businesses from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Banks are open
from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and do not close for lunch.
Churches. Like all Latin American countries, Costa Rica is predominantly
Catholic, but other denominations are found throughout the country.
Climate. Costa Rica is a tropical country and experiences
only two seasons: wet and dry. The dry season is generally between late
December and April, and the wet season lasts the rest of the year. The
Caribbean coast tends to be wet all year. Temperatures vary little between
seasons, the average is 24 degrees Celsius, and the main influence on
temperature is altitude. The coasts are very hot and humid, with the Caribbean
averaging 21 degrees Celsius at night and over 30 degrees Celsius during
the day, the Pacific is a few degrees warmer still.
Clothing. Pack light for your travels. The highland areas
can be very cold, so pack a sweater if you are going there. For the lowland
area light, loose-fitting shirts and pants are essential. A wide-brimmed
hat and sunglasses are recommended for the beach.
Communications. Direct-dial service is efficient and
there are more telephones per capita than in any other Latin American
country. Facsimiles, telex, radio Internet access and cable television
is all-available throughout the country. Bilingual operator assistance
for international calls is -116, Local information -113, Long distance
Hospitals. Health care in Costa Rica is very good and
sanitary standards are high. First class hospitals are found throughout
San Jose and some of the other largely populated areas.
Entry Requirements. Citizens from Canada, the U.S. and
Panama can enter with just a tourist card and one other piece of identification,
such as passport, driver's license or birth certificate. No passport is
required. Citizens of all other countries require a valid passport to
enter Visas are needed by certain nationalities so check ahead before
Customs. Arrivals are allowed 500 cigarettes plus three
liters of wine or spirits duty free in addition to personal goods and
Departure Tax. The average rate is US $ 17 to depart
by air. Land and sea exits are not charged.
Taxes. There is a 13% sales tax at hotels, restaurants and most service
industries, and an additional 3% tourist tax at hotels.
Tipping. A 10% tip is appropriate. Most restaurants will
add the tip to your bill so read your bill before paying a tip. Other
services does not include tip, as is voluntary according to services received.
Taxi drivers generally do not receive a tip.
Government. Costa Rica is a democratically elected republic.
One of the oldest democracies en America, and the only country in the
world without an army. Elections are held every four years.
Population. Costa Rica has a population of 4 million
people. Over fifty percent live in the Central Valley which comprises
only 4% of the entire country.
Topography. Panama borders Costa Rica to the north by
Nicaragua and to the south. It has both a Caribbean and a Pacific coast.
A series of volcanic mountain chains runs from the Nicaraguan border in
the northwest to the Panama border in the south east, splitting the country
in two, In the center of these ranges is a high-altitude plain, with coastal
lowlands on either side. Over half the population lives on this plain,
which has fertile volcanic soils. The Caribbean coast is 132 miles long
and Pacific coast is 635 miles long.