Saturday, April 12, 2008

Interesting facts about Costa Rica

We're back from our trip -- a very busy, jam-packed, hectic vacation in Costa Rica.  This was my first time to visit the country, and as I always say when arriving in a new place, visiting in person is the best way to pick up interesting facts, so here are some of the tidbits I discovered:

  • Biggest employer is Intel, which makes nearly all of its server chips there.
  • Has never had a military, and is proud of its strong constitution and stable democracy.
  • 23% of the country is protected forests and reserves
  • They don't trill their r's, like other Spanish speakers
  • Home to more unique species of birds (over 850) and insects (over 35,000) than the rest of North America or Europe. More than 10% of the world's butterflies live here.

I had expected it to be poor and run-down like other developing countries, but I was pleasantly surprised. For a tourist, even traveling in the countryside, I found it not much different than Hawaii, only cheaper.  Everyone takes US dollars and is friendly to Americans, and you won't have trouble speaking English anywhere.  Plus, it's only a 3 1/2 hour flight from Dallas, and you're on basically the same time zone when you arrive--no jet lag!

I felt safe and clean the whole time, no nasty mosquitoes or other annoyances.  Definitely recommended, even if you are traveling like we were with small children.

Map image


Anonymous said...

Costa Rica abolished their army in 1948

Anonymous said...

You said "I had expected it to be poor and run-down like other developing countries, but I was pleasantly surprised."

Well, the per capita income is $13,500 and 16% live below the poverty line (all data from Wikipedia). They also have a $1.9 annual billion tourist expendisture (that's $1K per person) to ensure trips like yours aren't seen as run down (and like Hawaii, as you point out).

Contrast that with, say, Costa Rica's neighbor, where you could experience the poverty you expected to see:

Nicaragua: 48% poverty (3x CR) and $3,200 per capita income (that's $10,000 less than CR).

Costa Rica spent a lot of time and money to build a Western-ready visiting experience. For those looking for Hawaii-like experiences, it's great. For those who want to experience what most developing countries in the world face, it's not the best choice.