Easy Costa Rica

No Stress Destination for Adventurous Families (or Anybody)
Map of  Costa Rica

Tiny and diverse, Costa Rica lies at the heart of Central America, its small size belying its far-reaching influence. Long renowned for its disarmament policies, a marked contrast to the political instabilities of neighboring Latin American countries, Costa Rica has recently emerged as a leader in the growing commitment to environmental protection. With numerous parks and preserves, a peaceful, friendly people, and some of the best beaches in the world, families both new and old to adventure travel can feel comfortable visiting here. To experience the best of Costa Rica, divide your time between coastal relaxation and exploration of the country's vast ecological wonders.

Lying in the tropics, the country's climate is hot year-round. Altitude differences between the coastal lowlands and the interior mountains cause the air to be slightly cooler inland, but, for the most part, the entire country experiences very warm weather throughout the year, with little seasonal temperature change. The rainy season, called winter, extends from May to November in the form of torrential afternoon showers. The best time to travel is the dry season, or summer, although it's wise to avoid peak vacation time for Costa Ricans, when San Jose residents descend on the beaches. This includes the month of December (their summer vacation) and Easter Week (Costa Rica's biggest holiday).

Located in the south of the Central American isthmus, Costa Rica reaches from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. To the north lies Nicaragua, to the south Panama. Costa Rica enjoys a varied terrain. The central portion is dominated by a volcanic mountain chain, its fertile valleys the home of over half the country's inhabitants. Descending towards either coast, mountains and valleys give way to hot, tropical lowlands, with mangroves and coral reefs along the Caribbean and grassy savannah in the west. The south remains mostly uninhabited, a land of arid, rugged mountains and dense coastal swamps.

Costa Rica's largely peaceful history has done much to shape the culture and lifestyle of its people. Only sparsely settled by native Indians at the time of Spanish colonization, the country was passed over in favor of more profitable territories. With little indigenous population to offer resistance, eventual European settlement met with little opposition. Led by a stable democracy for over 100 years, the country has put its efforts into economic development, establishing a non-military position and abolishing its army.

Today, Costa Rica is a country straddling two worlds, that of its Third World neighbors, and the developed nations it seeks to join. Expensive four-wheel-drive vehicles share the countryside with ox carts and horseback riders. While the affluent lifestyle enjoyed by San Jose "Ticos" is patterned after the U.S., country "camposinos" continue to live modestly. Overall, Costa Rica is rapidly bridging the gap that separates it from the developed world. Education is widespread and its health care is among the best in the world. People live simply, yet a major step above poverty. Costa Ricans are immensely proud of their country's accomplishments: its pacifist policies, political stability, economic growth, soaring tourism, and environmental commitment. They are happy to share this pride with visitors to this small, peaceful country.

© Article copyright Menasha Ridge Press. All rights reserved.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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