If you travel abroad much, you quickly learn that the reality of various destinations is much less attractive than that offered in the marketing material you see. When it comes to the hype, Costa Rica is one place that stands up to it and produces even more than suggested.
If you like to do different things on your vacations, you are going to love Costa Rica. The most obvious thing to do is enjoy the coasts on both sides of the country. You can pick a beach totally empty or one with a more festive atmosphere.
The beauty of Costa Rica is there is so much more than just beaches. Eco-tourism is hot with some of the most accessible rain forests in the world. Like rafting? The rivers around Lake Arenal in the center of the country are thrill rides.
Ah, but now I am just throwing words of hype around. You need some facts, so here are a few on the country.
For nearly three centuries, Costa Rica was a province, not a country. It was run as part of the Captaincy General of Guatemala under a military governor instituted by Spain.
The Spanish optimistically called the country "Rich Coast." They thought they would find tons of gold. They didn't, but claimed the country because of wood resources and its beauty.
In 1821, Costa Rica joined other Spanish provinces in a joint declaration of independence from Spain. It took 21 more years to gain independence as a country.
The capital city of Costa Rica is San Jose, located in the center of the country.
Costa Rica has four mountain ranges. Also known as cordilleras, they are Guanacaste and Tilaran in the north of the country and Central and Talamanca in the south. Many of the mountains are dormant volcanoes as Costa Rica is part of the Pacific "Rim of Fire".
The country has a relatively small population at 4 million, but is now growing at 1.5 percent. Roman Catholic is the dominant religion, although a surprising 15 percent claim a Protestant faith.
Education is tremendous in Costa Rica with the country having a 96 percent literacy rate. Average life expectancy for a woman is 79 years while men come in at 74. Spanish is the dominant language.
When it comes to protecting its natural resources, the government Costa Rica doesn't go for empty rhetoric. It has moved to protect over a quarter of the land from development and exploitation.
Instead of a military, the Constitution guarantees universal public education for all citizens. Primary education is obligatory, and both preschool and high school are free. The county has leading Universities in biological fields.
There are Seven Provinces in Costa Rica - Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limn, Puntarenas, and San Jos.
Should you visit Costa Rica on your next vacation? Vacation time is precious, and Costa Rica is the place to use it. The "wow" factor is huge and you will not regret it.