The one minute summary on Costa Rica

This is it: one minute to the best info on Costa Rica. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting Costa Rica, garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.

Although explored by the Spanish early in the 16th century, initial attempts at colonizing Costa Rica proved unsuccessful due to a combination of factors, including disease from mosquito-infested swamps, brutal heat, resistance by natives, and pirate raids.

Costa Rica photo

Photo by Wha’ppen

It was not until 1563 that a permanent settlement of Cartago was established in the cooler, fertile central highlands. The area remained a colony for some two and a half centuries. In 1821, Costa Rica became one of several Central American provinces that jointly declared their independence from Spain.

Two years later it joined the United Provinces of Central America, but this federation disintegrated in 1838, at which time Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence. Since the late 19th century, only two brief periods of violence have marred the country’s democratic development. In 1949, Costa Rica dissolved its armed forces. Although it still maintains a large agricultural sector, Costa Rica has expanded its economy to include strong technology and tourism industries. The standard of living is relatively high. Land ownership is widespread.

That was it. I promised one minute.

For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.

  1. Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in  Costa Rica
  2. Does my current phone work in  Costa Rica ? Tips to cell phone usage in  Costa Rica
  3. Local food you should try in  Costa Rica and No miss drinks in  Costa Rica

Now, cheers to the most Costa Rica aware person at the cocktail party.

What are the key history moments for Costa Rica?

Costa Rica constitutionally abolished its army permanently in 1949

The one minute summary for Costa Rica geography

Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus, lying between latitudes 8° and 12°N, and longitudes 82° and 86°W. It has a total of 1,290 kilometres (800 mi) of coastline, 212 km (132 mi) on the Caribbean coast and 1,016 km (631 mi) on the Pacific. Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua to the north (309 km or 192 mi of border) and Panama to the south-southeast (639 km or 397 mi of border). In total, Costa Rica comprises 51,100 square kilometres (19,700 sq mi) plus 589 square kilometres (227 sq mi) of territorial waters. The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó, at 3,819 metres (12,530 ft); it is the fifth highest peak in Central America.

The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano (3,431 m or 11,257 ft). The largest lake in Costa Rica is Lake Arenal. Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island (24 square kilometres / 9.3 square miles) stands out because of its distance from the continental landmass, 300 mi (480 km) from Puntarenas, but Calero Island is the largest island of the country (151.6 square kilometres / 58.5 square miles). Near 25% of Costa Rica’s national territory is protected by SINAC (the National System of Conservation Areas), which oversees all of the country’s protected areas.

Best places to see in Costa Rica

Wildlife – Costa Rica is world famous for having an incredibly high level of biodiversity throughout its tropical forests (this covers what you may hear referred to as rain forests, cloud forests, and dry forests). There are tropical mammals such as monkeys, sloths, tapirs, and wild cats as well as an amazing assortment of insects and other animals.

Costa Rica photo

Photo by Wha’ppen

There are many many birds (both migratory and resident) – more on that below. With 25% of the country being national parks and protected areas, there are still many places you can go to see the abundant wildlife and lush vegetation of the country. Just like anywhere, the farther you get off the beaten path, the more likely you are to see a wide variety of flora and fauna. There is such biodiversity in Costa Rica not only because it’s a land bridge between North and South America, but also because the terrain is so varied and there are weather patterns moving in from both the Pacific and Atlantic/Caribbean.

There are impressive volcanoes, mountain areas, rivers, lakes, and beaches all throughout the country. There are many beautiful beaches – most of the popular ones are on the Pacific side but the Caribbean has many excellent beaches as well. Costa Rica Colibrì Amasilla Saucerrottei. Bird Watching – One of the most wonderful activities for people who love nature is bird watching.

You can enjoy bird watching in many areas of Costa Rica. Due to the great diversity of climates, temperatures and forest types in Costa Rica, there is a wonderful variety of birds, with over 800 species. Some helpful books available on bird watching are Birds of Costa Rica by F. Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch (Cornell University Press) or An Illustrated Field Guide to Birds of Costa Rica, illustrated by Victor Esquivel Soto. These books can be found at certain bookstores in San José or before coming to Costa Rica. They are both heavy books; many people tear out the plates of the Stiles & Skutch book to carry into the field and leave the rest of the book in their car or room.

Plastic cards with the most common birds are available for many areas and are sold at gift shops. Costa Rica’s list of birds includes: 16 species of parrots including the fabulous scarlet macaw. 50 species of hummingbirds. 10 species of trogons with the resplendent quetzal as the jewel. 6 species of toucans, including the keel-billed and chestnut-mandibled. Half the bird species in Costa Rica are passerines including warblers, sparrows and finches. 16 species of ducks, including the fulvous whistling, white-faced ruddy and American wigeon. 13 species of falcons, including the peregrine falcon, merlin and American kestrel. 36 species of prey, including the gray hawk, swallow-tailed kite, solitary eagle and northern harrier. 6 species of cracidae which look like turkeys. 8 species of new world quails. 15 species of rallideas including the rufous-necked wood-rail, American coot and ruddy crake. 19 species of owls including the black-and-white, Costa Rican pygmy, central American pygmy and striped.

3 species of potoos including the great, northern and common. 16 species of woodpeckers, including cinnamon, chestnut-colored and pale-billed. The coastal list of birds includes: 19 species of herons & wading birds such as the great blue heron, great egret, boat-billed heron, reddish egret and yellow-crowned night-heron. 2 species of recurvirostraide which are waders and include the black-necked stilt and American avocet. 2 species of jacans including the northern and wattled.

34 species of scolopacidae including the short-billed dowitcher, spotted sandpiper, wandering tattler, surfbird, and red phalarope. 9 species of gulls including the gray, Heermann’s and ring-billed. 14 species of sternidae (terns) including the gull-billed tern, Forster’s tern, least tern and white tern. 4 species of vultures including the king vulture. 24 species of doves and pigeons. 11 species of swifts including the black, spot-fronted and Costa Rican. 6 species of kingfishers including the green, Amazon and American pygmy. 5 species of threskiornithidaes including the roseate spoonbill and white-faced ibis. 2 species of ciconiidae including the wood stork and jabiru.

Costa Rica photo

Photo by carlescs79

Good Bird watching spots include: Monteverde Cloud Forest has more than 400 species of birds, including resplendent quetzals. Tortuguero National Park has 300 species of birds. Santa Rosa National Park has more than 250 species of birds. Cahuita National Park has toucans, parrots, rufous kingfishers; the park is on the beach. La Selva Biological Station in the northern lowlands has 420 species of birds. Helconia Island has 228 species of birds. Corcovado National Park has 400 species of birds and 1,200 scarlet macaws. Huedal Nacional Terraba-Sierpe has a myriad of birds along the coast and swamps. Carara National Park has 400 species of birds.

Tárcoles has 400 species of birds and great river tours highlighting crocodiles. Whale Marine National Park has frigate birds, boobies, ibises and pelicans. La Amistad National Park has 500 species of birds including resplendent quetzals. Manuel Antonio National Park has 350 species of birds and three lovely beaches. Most hotels, as well as tourist information centers, will provide bird watching guides, maps and other essentials for bird watching.

Unless you are an experienced neo-tropical birder, it can be a lot more productive to go out with an experienced birding guide. Do not forget to bring a hat, rain gear, boots, binoculars and camera. In hot areas, an umbrella can be more useful than a poncho or jacket. Southern Costa Rica is generally considered the better option for bird watching. Arenal Volcano Volcanoes -Costa Rica is one of the most seismologicly active countries in the western hemisphere, and as a result several volcanoes have sprouted over the years- most notably volcanoes Poas, Irazu, and Arenal.