Costa Rica Information

For those who are researching a move, visit or retirement to Costa Rica, this page and the tabs included in the Costa Rica Information section will provide information about Costa Ricas’ culture, towns, climate, biodiversity and much more so that you can effectively plan your trip. Costa Rica is a popular place to visit and retire to but there are many factors about the country that may make it a bad fit for some. Please read on to find out more.

Sunset - Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste

Costa Rica Geography

Costa Rica, a Spanish term meaning Rich Coast, is a country in Central America; sandwiched between 2 other countries, Nicaragua and Panama with Nicaragua to the North and Panama to the Southeast.  Flanking Costa Rica on the West and East, respectively are, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The term Rich Coast came from invading Spaniards because they found indigenous indians with large amounts of gold jewelry. While gold can be found in Costa Rica, the Richness of the Coast today is the variety of flora and fauna and the country’s diverse geography.

It may be a popular belief, but Costa Rica is not an island. Costa Rica does have an island feel to it. It may be the country’s unofficial motto, “Pura Vida” (that translates to Pure Life but with an all inclusive meaning similar to Hawaii’s “Hang Loose”), it may be the tropical climate, the monkeys, or it just may be a lack of knowledge of geography, but Costa Rica is not an island.

Costa Rica is actually an isthmus; it is a small part of the Central America Isthmus with Panama being the largest part. As an island is surrounded on all sides by water, an isthmus is a landmass with water on 2 sides. The Central America Isthmus connects North America to South America.

IsthmusOfPanama

Costa Rica Climate

Part of the Island misnomer can be also be explained by Costa Rica’s climate. The climate of the country varies widely with 12 different Climate Zones. Costa Rica is positioned between 8 and 12 degrees North of the equator giving Costa Rica a decidedly tropical climate. There are 2 main seasons:  the Rainy Season which is roughly from May to November, and the Dry Season from December to April. The Rainy Season, also called the Green Season as the rains turn everything green – and Green Season also gives a positive spin, and is more palatable to the tourist, than Rainy Season. The Dry Season, also known as the Tourist Season is a time of significantly less rainfall and as a result many more tourists, although a case can be made for the Green Season being the best time to visit the country. Rainfall amount varies greatly depending on elevation and location within the country. In addition to the seasons and Climate Zones, there are microclimates, climates within the Climate Zones that can drastically change the temperatures and rainfall within a very short distance, usually because of elevation.

Ticos

Native Costa Ricans are called Ticos, this term is not derogatory and is used by native Costa Ricans and foreigners alike. The origin of the moniker Tico  is in dispute, but the most common explanation has to do with Latin Americans fondness of using the diminutive of a word to signify extra affection or meaning. An example is the word poco which means little, the diminutive of which is, poquitico  and usually shortened further to poquito, meaning very little. Another example is casa or house and casita, a small house. So, the name Tico is simply a suffix that exemplifies the diminutive.

Fauna

Costa Rica has a very wide variety of animals and plants within its borders ranking it in the top 20 of the most biodiverse countries in the world. CostaRica has a landmass that accounts for only .03% of the earths surface yet represents, an astonishing, 5% of the earths biodiversity. Biodiversity is defined as: The variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem. Costa Rica is home to 500,000 species of animals, plants and fungi, of which, more than 300,000 are insects.

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Flora

In addition to having an incredible animal diversity, Costa Rica has over 9,000 species of plants. There are many varieties of trees; from coconut and banana to the national tree, the Guanacaste tree. Costa Rica is also home to many types of flowers with the orchid and its 1400 identified varieties, taking the cake as the national flower.

Big Tree in Costa Rica

This is neither an orchid nor a Guanacaste tree, either of which would make more sense as picture here than this random tree I saw on a hike.