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Costa Rica at a Glance
Costa Rica is among the most beautiful travel destinations in the world. This peace-loving country has a uniquely stable democratic government surpassed in the Americas only by the United States. Costa Ricans enjoy unparalleled personal and political freedom, mostly due to the clever use of peace treaties with powerful allies during the past half-century. With no need for a military budget, much of the savings have been applied to social programs, propelling the country to role model status for other Central American nations. "Ticos" (as Costa Ricans are affectionately known) pride themselves on universal education and healthcare. The country is small, mountainous and intensely beautiful. Ecotourism and adventure travel, now a major source of income for Costa Rica, attracts visitors of all ages from the world over.
Charm and Sophistication
Costa Ricans have an international reputation for their commitment to peace, higher education and free thinking. One Costa Rican village is known for producing talented poets, another for its peace-loving diplomats and another for its charming and beautiful people. Costa Rican men are considered less chauvinistic than men from other Latin countries and the women are more empowered. The country is experiencing a technological boom as an educated workforce makes Costa Rica attractive to multinational high tech companies like Intel, who have built large production facilities here.
Quality of Life
Although it is still a poor country, the poor need not go hungry thanks to several unique social programs that prevent the intense poverty seen in neighboring countries. Even with a burgeoning middle class and pockets of extreme wealth, the country still must borrow heavily and government coffers are often strained. Costa Ricans enjoy a much lower crime rate than the U.S., with violent crime rare though increasing. Costa Ricans also enjoy a better infant mortality rate, a longer life expectancy and a higher literacy rate than the U.S. The tap water is generally safe to drink throughout the country and the food is fresh, delicious and abundant.
Most activities center around family life. Ticos readily share what they have with others and almost everyone seems to be smiling and happy. Ticos are remarkably clean, they like to dress nicely, go out dancing, eat in restaurants and celebrate for any and every reason. Many enjoy meeting foreigners and are often eager to practice their English. Life is lived to its fullest with a pace that is extraordinarily relaxed.
Ecotourism and Adventure Travel
More than 25% of Costa Rica is protected in national parks and reserves. Manuel Antonio is the most popular national park with its spellbinding beaches and an abundance of easily viewable wildlife. Local ecotourism agencies cover every interest and offer tours that are designed to be low impact, entertaining and educational. Costa Rica's geology features the colliding Cocos and Caribbean Plates and the resulting three massive cordilleras that form the backbone of the country and punctuated by the towering Chirripó Volcano. At 12,533 feet (3,820m) Chirripó is the highest peak in Central America. Costa Rica is a natural wonderland with unprecedented biodiversity in overlapping ecosystems as they make their way from towering mountain peaks down to the warm seas and the loud and colorful rainforests lining both coasts.
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