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COSTA RICA
San Jose
I've heard that Costa Rica is one of the happiest places on earth. I can't say I disagree. People here are (for the most part) friendly, outgoing, and happy to talk with you.

  Kaysie Hogrefe
Northern Arizona University

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San Jose

San Jose, Costa Rica's capital, sits in the Central Valley region with the Talamanca Mountains to the south and volcanoes to the north. The city is distinguished by its Spanish colonial buildings, like the ornate, neoclassical National Theatre of Costa Rica overlooking downtown's Plaza de la Cultura, a popular gathering spot. Below the plaza, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum displays hundreds of gleaming artifacts. San Jose is a vibrant city with theaters, museums, parks, a national symphony, cinemas and nearby nature reserves.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a relatively small country, extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, yet it boasts an incredibly diverse wildlife and landscape. Tropical coastal plains rise to steep mountains and volcanoes, and the country features extensive rainforests, volcanoes, rivers, mountains, and world-class beaches. More than a quarter of Costa Rica has protected land status, safeguarding the beautiful countryside through a well-organized system of national parks and forest reserves.

Due to Costa Rica's exceptionally varied geography, the range of flora and fauna is some of the most diverse in the world. In fact, measured in terms of species per square kilometer, Costa Rica is first in the world at 615 species. There are over 10,000 identified species of plants, 850 species of birds, 800 species of butterflies, and 500 species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

The people of Costa Rica are nicknamed "Ticos," and are known for being warm and hospitable. Ticos live by the national motto of Costa Rica of Pura Vida. Pura vida translates as pure life, but its meaning is closer to full of live, this is living, or real living. Typical Tico cuisine is centered around the staples of rice and beans but is enhanced by dishes such as friend plantains, chicken dishes, and fresh seafood. Costa Rica produces some of the best coffee in the world.

Quick facts
  • Population of Costa Rica: 4.8 million
  • Population of San Jose: 333,000
  • Official Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Colon (₡ or CRC)
  • Local time in San Jose: GMT-6
  • Temp in San Jose: 70-80F