Located in the Central Valley, San Jose is surrounded by valleys and lush green mountains. It is famed for its Teatro Nacional (National Theater), busy market life, and cafe culture. There are tons of restaurants in San Jose, but be sure to get a taste of the local cuisine, which includes gallo pinto (fried rice and beans), plantains, and sea bass. After you’re nourished, you can go whitewater rafting, experience a canopy tour, or surf at Jaco beach. No matter what your interests may be, there’s plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy in this tropical country!
Country overview Damien Samwell 2016-10-24T11:15:56+00:00
Known as the “Switzerland of Central America,” Costa Rica has a peaceful, democratic culture and government. It has been recognized as the greenest and overall happiest country in the world! One of their most common sayings is Pura Vida, meaning pure life, which represents their leisurely lifestyle, sense of community, and a greater appreciation for all things. During your free time, you can zip-line through the rainforest, snorkel with sharks at Coco’s Island, hike the volcan poas, or spend a day in the cloud forest at Monteverde. With such beautiful landscapes, it’s no wonder Costa Ricans are so happy!
The official language is Spanish, though there are a variety of other regional languages spoken like Bribri, Maleku, Cabecar, and Ngabere. Costa Rican Spanish is quite different from the Spanish that is spoken throughout Spain. Costa Ricans, for example, do not lisp their “c’s” and “z’s.” They speak much slower and use a fair amount of slang, or Tiquismos. Costa Ricans are often referred to as Ticos since they frequently add this word as a suffix. English is only spoken by about 10% of the population, so you will have ample opportunity to practice your Spanish!
Costa Rica is situated on the Central American isthmus, bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the southeast. To the west lies the Pacific Ocean, and to the east is the Caribbean Sea with over 750 miles of coastline. The land is full of rivers, mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, and, of course, beaches. Jungles and rainforests are abundant, and Costa Rica is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity.
Located just 8 degrees north of the equator, Costa Rica has a year-round tropical climate. The average temperature only ranges from about 71ºF to 81ºF. The country experiences two main seasons – rainy and dry. The rainy season is from May to November, and the dry season lasts from December to April. It typically rains more along the coast than it does in San Jose, which is located more inland.
Costa Rica has a Happy Planet index rating of 76.1 making it the happiest place on earth!