Costa Rica Location
Costa Rica is a mountainous country on the narrow Central American isthmus, with Nicaragua to the North and Panamá to the South. To the East and West are the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, respectively.
- Maximum length: 288 miles from Río Sapoá to Punta Burica
- Minimum length: 74 miles from Tuba to Boca Coronado
- Maximum width: 161 miles from Cabo Santa Elena to Boca del Río Colorado
- The capital: San José Area: 3.66 square miles
- Land area: 19.730 square miles
- Administrative division: 7 provinces
- Total population: 3.510.637 (50.54% men / 49.46% women)
Costa Rica Weather
The climate is idyllic. In the lowlands -which are dry in the Pacific Northwest and humid elsewhere- daytime temperatures range in the eighties to nineties F° (high twenties to mid-thirties C°). Usually in the seventies F° (low to mid-twenties C°) at middle elevations, the mercury can fall as low as the forties and fifties F° (five to mid-tens C°) at the top of the mountains. Costa Rica can be broadly categorized into four major climatic zones:
The wet lowlands:
The Caribbean and the Southern Pacific lowlands have short dry seasons and high temperatures. Rainfall is usually lighter along the coast, increasing proportionally as it moves further inland and altitude increases.
Lowlands with a dry season:
Most of the Guanacaste province and some of Puntarenas have high temperatures and a long dry season.
Areas located between 3,000 - 5,000 feet above the sea level, such as the Central Valley, have defined dry seasons and the most comfortable of the climates.
Any area at an altitude higher than 5,000 feet has cooler temperatures. At altitudes over 10,000 feet, even reaches the freezing point. The weather is usually humid, with occasional fog or frost.
Annual Rainfall for Major Areas:
Central Valley: 1.100-2.500 mm 43-98 inches
Northern Pacific: 1.400-4.300 mm 55-98 inches
Central Pacific: 2.300-4.300 mm 91-169 inches
Southern Pacific: 2.300-4.000 mm 91-157 inches
Atlantic Region: 2.000-4.500 mm 79-177 inches
The Northwest has a fairly well-defined dry season ("verano" or summer) December to April. The dry season is a month or two shorter along the southern Pacific coast. July also tends to be a dry month on the Pacific slope.
Welcome rains during the rest of the year bring about a general greening and freshen the countryside. Rains usually come in afternoon thunder-storms, leaving; the mornings sunny and the night sky filled with stars.
This period is called "invierno" (winter or rainy season) or "temporada verde" (green season). Rainfall on the Caribbean slope is more evenly distributed throughout the year, with marked dry periods from May through June and again from September through October.
Costa Rica Weather
Costa Rican People
What makes "Ticos" (Costa Ricans) so different?
This is a common question. The answer lies in the country's history and culture. Costa Rica has a mostly peaceful past. From the very beginning, Costa Ricans have been exposed to little violence. During colonial times, it was one of the few parts of Latin America settled by people more interested in creating a pleasant place to live and start a family than in exploiting the indigenous people and their gold.
Most "ticos" are still as warm hearted and friendly as their ancestors. Hospitality, respect and friendship are enjoyed by visitors.
Where did the word "tico" come from?
Costa Ricans often use the diminutive form of words to be more courteous or friendly. They use, however, "ico", instead the more common "-ito". Although "-ico" is a correct form of the diminutive, it is rarely used in other Spanish speaking countries. The word "momento" (moment) thus become "momentico" (a little moment) and even "momentitico" (a very brief moment). Hence, people from other countries started calling Costa Ricans "ticos".
Costa Rica Education
Through constant attention to education, Costa Rica has achieved the highest literacy rate in Central America. Its literacy rate rivals that of many larger and more industrialized nations. Since the 1970's Costa Rica has consistently invested twenty-eight percent of the national budget in education-something which would not have been possible while maintaining armed forces.
The educational system is divided into three major sections. Elementary schooling is free and obligatory. Seventy percent of high schools are public, while accredited private institutions provide the other thirty percent. University education began last century, but it wasn't until 1940 that the University of Costa Rica, the country's largest public university, was founded. Thirty years later, several more public universities had been created, including a correspondence school. The first of numerous private universities was established in 1977.
According to the World Health Organization, Costa Rica has one of the best health care systems in the world. The country's infant mortality rate is dropping while life expectancy increases.
There are several hospitals in the country operated by the National Social Security System. The System, established to provide universal medical services, is close to reaching its goal. This same institution also provides worker's disability, maternity and senior citizen benefits.
Costa Rica Government
Costa Rica is one of the oldest democracies in the Americas; its first election was held in 1889. Actually we're governed according to the Constitution of November 7, 1949. An improvement of previous constitutions, this version made one change that has had specially far reaching effects: it eliminated the country's armed forces.
The Constitution gives the president executive power. The President of the Republic is elected by free elections for a four year term. Two vice-presidents are elected through this same process. The president has the authority to choose a cabinet of ministers.
Congress, the legislative branch, is an unicameral parliament. Fifty-seven congressmen are elected to four-year terms, chosen from political party candidates.
The General Court is the highest judicial body. It is composed of twenty-two magistrates, elected by Congress to a minimum of eight years. The General Court manages judicial power and is responsible for naming judges and tribunals.
The different chambers of the Supreme Court are formed by members of the General Court. Of the chambers, the Constitutional Chamber is the most powerful. It rules on any matters related to the constitutionality of laws and, in general, is charged with the protection of citizens from any possible improprieties or waste on the part of the government. Better known as "La Sala IV", this chamber was created within the Supreme Court a few years ago, and has been generally well received by citizens. On several occasions, "La Sala IV" has overturned major, long standing laws, challenged by ordinary citizens on constitutional grounds.
Another important tribunal is the Supreme Tribunal of Elections, which is in charge of guaranteeing fair elections, in accordance with electoral law.
Festivities & Official Holidays
January 1st: New year & end of festivities in San Jose
March 19th: St. Joseph Day
March or April: Holy Thursday & Friday: Religious activities and processions in most towns and cities.
April 11th: Our National Hero Juan Santamaría (Rivas Battle)
May 1st: Labour Day
June 29th: Saint Peter and Saint Paul Day
July 25th: Annexation of the Province of Guanacaste to Costa Rica
August 2nd: Virgin of our Lady of Los Angeles, Patroness of Costa Rica
August 15th: Mother's Day
September 15th: Independence of Costa Rica and Central America (except Panama & Belize)
October 12th: Christopher Columbus Day and Limon Province's Carnival
November 2nd: All Soul's Day
2nd Saturday of December: Lights Festival in the city of San Jose(Commence of Christmas time)
December 25th: Christmas Day
December 26th: Horse parade in downtown San Jose
December 27th: Carnival in downtown San Jose