About Costa Rica         


Costa Rica, with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, has a population of 4.5 million people with Spanish as their official language. The capital is San Jose. With education a priority, the literacy rate is 96%. This country also enjoys one of the oldest and most stable democracies in the world.

It does not have an army, and Nobel Prize winning Oscar Arias, the president of Costa Rica, continues to work hard on the Central American Peace Plan to bring lasting peace to neighboring countries.

Since tourism overtook the traditional industries of coffee, banana, and orchid export in the 1990s, Costa Rica has developed an excellent service infrastructure of land and air transportation, a vast hotel network, and extensive telecommunication services. A network of highways crosses the country and well-maintained roads link towns and villages together - the most important of these being the Pan-American Highway.

Costa Rica is served by all major airlines, and a solid fleet of commuter planes (charter and commercial) make it easy to reach any point of the country by air. The seaport of Limon and Moin on the Atlantic, Puntarenes, Puerto Caldera on the Pacific, and Golfito in the southern region, handle commercial shipping.

There are no vaccinations necessary to visit Costa Rica and the water is drinkable unlike in other countries in the region.

Costa Rica's currency - the Colon (¢500 = $1.00) is one of the most stable in the world. Other facts about Costa Rica: inflation rate: 5-10% per year; life expectancy: 78 years.

(CNN) Forget Disneyland! Costa Rica is the happiest place in the world, according to an independent research group in Britain with the goal of building a new economy, "centered on people and the environment." Costa Rica is known for its lush rain forests and pristine beaches. In a report released Saturday, the group ranks nations using the "Happy Planet Index," which seeks countries with the most content people.

In addition to happiness, the index by the New Economics Foundation considers the ecological footprint and life expectancy of countries. "Costa Ricans report the highest life satisfaction in the world and have the second-highest average life expectancy of the new world (second to Canada)," the organization said in a statement. They "also have an ecological footprint that means that the country only narrowly fails to achieve the goal of ... consuming its fair share of the Earth's natural resources."

The Central American country, tucked between Nicaragua and Panama, touts its lush rain forests and pristine beaches. Its president, Oscar Arias Sanchez, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for trying to help end civil wars in several Central American countries. This year's survey, which looked at 143 countries, featured Latin American nations in nine of the Top 10 spots.