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ABOUT COSTA RICA

Costa Rica is a country located in Central America that has unlimited tourist potential and is ranked as one of the most visited international destinations. One of Costa Rica’s main sources of income is tourism. Costa Rica is a democratic and peaceful country, and it has not had an army since the year 1949.

Although the country is small and it covers only 0.03 % of the surface of the globe, it proudly shelters a 6% of the existing biodiversity in the entire world. 25.58 % of the country is composed of conservation and natural protected territory.

Costa Rica is also an attractive country for investment and it offers great potential for the establishment of important multinational companies, thanks to the outstanding academic level of its population, as well as the high standard of modern services and social and political stability.

Geography
Rugged highlands are found throughout most of the country, ranging from approximately 1,000 to 2,000 meters (3,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level). The Guanacaste Mountain Range, Central Mountain Range, and Talamanca Mountain Range are the main mountain ranges extending the entire length of the country. There are several active volcanoes (Arenal Volcano, Irazu Volcano, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Turrialba Volcano) and the country’s highest mountain (Chirripo Hill) with a height of 3,819 m/12,530 ft. The country has a relatively long coastline in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as a number of rivers and streams that attract specialist kayakers and rafters from all over the world.

Climate

In general, the climate in Costa Rica is very pleasant not only during the dry season, which extends from December to April but also during the rainy season, which runs from May to November. During the rainy season rain can be expected in the afternoons, on the other hand the mornings are usually sunny.

Costa Rica has a tropical climate with an average temperature of 22 degrees C (72 degrees F) that increases considerably on the coastal areas. The changes in temperature are considerable and due to the short distances in this relatively small country, they can all be experienced in just one day.

Due to factors such as the geographical location, the weather conditions, the formation of mountain chains, mountains, and valleys, this country experiences different microclimates that give a home to different types of vegetation.


Banks & Money
There is an ample selection of state owned and privately held banks in San Jose, and throughout the country. The official currency of Costa Rica is the colon; however US dollars are widely accepted. US dollars and traveler's checks can be changed in banks and hotels. Most major credit cards are widely accepted, and cash advances can be obtained at banks around the country and a variety of places throughout San Jose.

Business Hours
Government offices are generally open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, while banks close anytime between 3:00 and 6:00 pm, according to the bank and its branch. Most shops are open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, while some open at 8:00 am and others close at 7:00 pm; most grocery stores close at 8:00 pm. Some shops also close for lunch, between noon and 1:00 or 2:00 pm.

Economy
You don't have to drive very far in Costa Rica -- past the coffee, pastures, bananas, and other crops -- to realize that agriculture is the basis of its economy. Coffee has historically been the country's most important crop, and Costa Rica continues to produce some of the finest coffee in the world. However in recent years less traditional crops have been playing an increasingly important economic role. Bananas are the second most important export crop, with vast plantations covering parts of the Caribbean lowlands. There is also significant land dedicated to the cultivation of pineapples, sugar, oranges, rice, hardwoods, and ornamental plants, as well as raising cattle for beef and dairy products.

Though agriculture remains the basis of the national economy, tourism has earned more than any single export crop during the last few years and the tourism industry continues to grow providing new employment opportunities and stimulating the conservation of our complex biodiversity.