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Costa Rica

General information about Costa Rica

Due to its position on the southern tip of Central America, Costa Rica boasts a privileged location. Situated between two continents and bathed by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica covers 51,200 square kilometers. Despite its relatively small size, Costa Rica is famous for its climatic diversity and its scenic natural beauty, for the vast variety of vegetation and the wealth of the flora and fauna.

The country has an extensive coastline-approximately 1,500 kilometers where countless virgin beaches mingle with rocky bluffs, and the former are enclosed by peninsulas and bays of great scenic beauty. Costa Rica's natural heritage has one of the world's most outstanding biological reserve and national park systems.

Costa Rica boasts a spring-like climate, allowing you to wear light clothing almost all year round. The average temperature for the central and mountain valley areas averages 68 degrees F (20 degrees C) and 78.8 degrees F (26 degrees C) for the lower coastal areas.

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Language

Spanish is the official language, but many Costa Ricans speak English.

Currency

The national currency is the colon. Dollars can be exchanged at banks of the National Banking System. Credit cards, such as VISA, MASTER CARD, AMERICAN EXPRESS, etc., may be used as a cash alternative.

Banks

The National Banking System's public service timetable is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some bank agencies have an alternate timetable. There are other State and private banks that offer services in the Metropolitan Area.

Religion

The official religion is Roman Catholicism. Nevertheless, there is freedom to practice any other religion or creed.

Government

Costa Rica is a democratic, free and independent republic. The Government of the Republic is popular, representative, alternative and responsible. It is exercised by three powers, different and independent among themselves, which are: Legislative, Executive and Judicial.

None of these Powers may delegate the execution of their responsibilities. A Supreme Court of Elections, with rank and independence from the Powers of the State, is commissioned, in an exclusive and independent manner, with the organization, direction and supervision of the acts concerning suffrage.

Costa Rica is one of the oldest, most stable and pacific democracies in Latin America. In 1869 the primary education for both sexes was declared obligatory and free of cost, defrayed by the State. In 1882 the death sentence was abolished. In the year 1949 the armed forces were abolished and in 1983 a Perpetual Neutrality was proclaimed.

Prestigious international human rights organizations have their headquarters in Costa Rica.

Communications: Postal, Telephone and Telex Services

There are postal and telegraph offices in cities and villages throughout the country. The Central Post Office is located in San Jos on Second Street between Avenues 1 and 3, and is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 12 noon. Radiografica Costarricense is located on Fifth Avenue between Streets 1 and 3. This company provides telex, fax, international data transmission, and many other services (including Internet access).

The country code for Costa Rica is 506, and there is no area code inside the country.

Transportation

International Air Transportation:

Costa Rica is an easy place to get to, thanks to the fact that 17 airlines fly to the country from airports in North, Central, South America and Europe. Most international flights land at Juan Santamaria International Airport, near San Jose. A growing number of international flights land at Daniel Oduber airport, located outside the northwest city of Liberia, providing quick access to the beach resorts of Guanacaste.

Domestic Air Transportation:

All flights leave from the International Juan Santamaria Airport or the Tobias Bolanos Airport. There is a network of internal airports which not only serve important cities, but special interest tourist areas. Among the most important are: Liberia, Palmar Sur, Tamarindo, Barra del Colorado, Limn, Quepos, Golfito, Coto 47, etc. From the Tobias Bolanos Airport, located to the west of the capital city, private airlines with twin-engine airplanes for five passengers, offer charter flights anywhere in the country with a landing strip.

Domestic Bus Service:

The country, in general, offers an adequate bus service. The majority are private companies which link San Jose with the principal provincial towns and cities, seaports and tourist areas. With good-quality vehicles and frequent itineraries, the user can easily travel throughout the country, leaving from different bus terminals. In the main cities and villages nationwide, there are taxicab companies that service the user to the more remote places in the country. Four-wheel drive vehicles are typical for the rural areas.

International Bus Service:

Leaving from San Jose, there is bus service to Central America and Panama. The companies TICA BUS, SIRCA and TRACOPA have scheduled trips to Panama, Nicaragua and other countries.

Automobile Circulation:

Costa Rica has a good highway network, the majority of which, for tourist use, is paved. In most places there are adequate traffic signs.

In the major highways there are toll booths (San Jose-San Ramon, San Jose-Guapiles, San Jose-Cartago, San Jose-Ciudad Colon). Throughout the country there are many gas stations, some of which offer round-the-clock service. Costa Rica does not have self-service gas stations.

Driver Requirements:

A foreigner may drive with a current license from his country of origin and his passport, during the three months that his tourist visa is in force.

The warning triangles should be carried at all times by all drivers, and seat belts are also required for drivers and front-seat passengers. The use of helmets for motorcycle conductors is required.

Medical Facilities

Hospitals:

Any foreigner who is temporarily in the country has the right to receive health attention at hospitals and clinics in case of an emergency, sudden illness or a chronic disease. Costa Rica boasts a modern and renown medical health system, under the administration of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS).

  • Hospital San Juan de Dios. . . .222-0166
  • Hospital Mexico . . . . . . . .232-6122
  • Hospital Dr. Calderon Guardia. .222-4133
  • Hospital Nacional de Ninos . . .222-0122

Physicians:

The greater part of the hotels have contact with a doctor. In Costa Rica there are public and private hospitals and clinics that have 24-hour service, seven days a week.

Meetings and Conventions

Hundreds of successful international conferences are proof that Costa Rica is an excellent location for meetings and conventions. The country has hosted regional and international gatherings that have been attended by as many as 3,000 delegates.

There are many reasons for Costa Rica's success as a convention site. It is conveniently located - just two and a half hours by plane from both Miami and Caracas - and it has dozens of modern hotels with extensive convention facilities. The country also offers state-of-the-art telecommunications, and major hotels can provide everything from the latest audio visual equipment to conference calls via satellite.

More importantly, Costa Rica has an abundance of highly trained, multi-lingual professionals, who can insure that your meeting is a complete success. And since the country is such a beautiful place to visit, those attending conferences in Costa Rica are not only happy to go, they often stay on after the meetings to explore the rain forest or relax on the beach.

The following services may be consulted:

  • Clinica Catolica . . . . . 225-5055
  • Hospital Clinica Biblica . 223-6422
  • Clinica Santa Rita . . . . 221-6433
  • Centro de Intoxicaciones . 223-1028
  • Red Cross. . . . . . . . . 221-5818

Important Phone Numbers

  • Emergencies . . . . . . .911 (Metropolitan area)
  • Fire Department and Rescue Units. . . . . . .118
  • Traffic Police. . . . . .222-9330/ 222-9245
  • Police Department . . . .117
  • Rural Police Department .127
  • Red Cross . . . . . . . .128

Airports:

  • Juan Santamaria International Airport .441-0744
  • Limn International Airport . . . . . .758-1379
  • Tobias Bolanos International Airport. .232-2820
  • Tomas Guardia International Airport (Liberia, Guanacaste) . . . . .666-0695


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