Costa Rica is a small state in Central America. On the one hand, it is washed by the Caribbean Sea, and on the other, by the Pacific Ocean. This is a rather unusual country for the region. There is no army of its own, and the population is predominantly white.
The indigenous inhabitants of these lands gradually disappeared during the colonization of Europeans. We don't know much about Central America, much less Costa Rica. This republic remains a mystery to us, but our ideas about it are a collection of myths. We will try to debunk them.
Costa Rica is an island. The main myths about this country relate to its geographical location. Many people confuse Costa Rica with Puerto Rico. So it seems that the country is an island. This is a gross delusion. The country is located in Central America, 900 miles north of the equator. Nicaragua is located north of Costa Rica, and Panama to the south. The size of the entire country is comparable to West Virginia in the United States.
Costa Rica is located somewhere in South America. The country is located in Central America, which is geographically considered part of the North American continent.
Costa Rica is full of beaches. Thanks to the travel storytellers, we feel like life on the beach is perfect. Every day you can lie in a hammock in the shade of a palm tree, sipping Pina Colada, enjoying the breeze. In reality, there is an incredible heat here. And the cost of living is high, especially the prices of coffee, milk and bread. Those wishing to live on the beach will have to fork out for air conditioning in their room, which is not cheap. Costa Rica does offer such vacation options, but they are not the only ones here. A small mountainous country has developed its own microclimate, due to surface irregularities in the form of mountain ranges. Some inhabitants live at an altitude of 1000 meters above sea level. There is a constant temperature of 15-20 degrees all year round. This place does not need heating or air conditioning, as in the Central Valley of the country (two thirds of the population live there). This is where it is comfortable to lie in a hammock and enjoy a drink, only there is no sea in the mountains.
Costa Rica is a third world country. For some reason, this country is considered backward. Many tourists are not even sure if there is Internet there. The term "third world country" itself appeared in the 1960s and was supposed to designate countries that are not friends with either the USSR or the United States. After the end of the Cold War, developing states began to show their economic competitiveness, so the term died. Now it is called the poorest countries that do not have a normal economy, education, health care. The infrastructure in Costa Rica may not be as good as in the US, but it is constantly improving. Roads are being built, most places have internet. Every citizen has the opportunity to free education, the literacy rate exceeds 96%. The main industry is not agriculture, but tourism. Costa Rica is considered a progressive developing country, ranking 62 out of 169 on the UN Human Development Index. All modern technologies are present here. Almost every citizen has a mobile phone, houses are built to earthquake-resistant standards, and the medical system is one of the best in the world. And the democratic form of government has been stable for over 60 years.
This is a very cheap country. Tourists believe that it is possible to have a rest in "poor" Costa Rica for a penny. And what is their surprise when it turns out that the country is not cheap. It is the most expensive in Central America and the fifth most expensive in Latin America. Some expats, having lived here, even come back, saving their money. The spending comes out only 30% less than in the US. It's just that many are not used to changing their lifestyle, believing that here it will be cheaper. You can really spend a little, but you will have to give up many habits. You can pay a servant about two dollars an hour, but 500 dollars for a luxurious life is not enough. The budget for an ordinary life is $ 1200, for $ 1500 you can afford some excesses, but you can really live well on $ 2000.
Costa Rica has a high crime rate. Many people are afraid to go to Latin America because of the high crime there. It seems that local mafia clans can easily kidnap or kill a tourist. Do people with weapons walk the streets in Costa Rica and there are constant gunfights? This country should not be confused with Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador. There are really big problems with crime and the inability of the government to calm the situation. However, Costa Rica is generally a safe country. There are 8.7 murders per 100 thousand people. The main reason is drugs or family squabbles. The victim and the abuser are often familiar. But this does not apply to expats who prefer to live on their pension in this cozy country. They feel safe here.
Costa Rica is a real paradise. This country has really beautiful nature. The beaches are breeze with palm trees, and there are lush green forests with a diverse fauna. Temperatures all year round in Costa Rica are mostly "spring". So the elements of paradise are worth talking about. But you shouldn't expect perfection. Lush greenery grows thanks to the semi-annual rainy season, with rainfall in places up to 5,000 mm. Local residents are not busy enjoying life, but solve everyday problems: how to survive on a salary, what to cook, how to deal with bureaucracy, where it is more profitable to buy goods. The language barrier is also worth considering. The official language is Spanish; many simply do not understand English, which baffles tourists.
Costa Rica is hot all year round. The country has two notable seasons: rainy and dry. In winter, the rainy season comes, it lasts from May to November. At this time, the morning is sunny, and precipitation usually occurs in the afternoon. In the dry season from December to April, rainfall is very rare. Throughout the year, temperatures still vary by location - coastal areas are warmer than mountains.
The health care system in the country does not meet international standards. In reality, the community health system is not only cheap, but also provides good care. Private healthcare is also well developed. This makes medicine in Costa Rica one of the best in the world. WHO puts it in 36th place, which is even better than in the prosperous USA (37th place) and New Zealand (41st place).
The local water is not potable. Do not be afraid to get poisoned by local water. It is drinkable almost everywhere. The only exceptions are springs in remote villages and national parks. Such places are usually marked with a warning label. If you have concerns about the quality of the water, it is better to ask the local residents about it.
The roads in Costa Rica are terrible. Roads in the country have not received awards for their quality, but they are not at all terrible. There are many dirt and gravel roads in rural areas. They are well maintained and passable throughout the year, except for the heavy rainy season. In dry times, eroded areas are restored. There are also modern highways in the country. One of them allows you to rush from the capital to the Pacific Ocean in just an hour.
Internet and cable TV in Costa Rica is available only in large settlements. High-speed Internet is becoming more widespread throughout the country. Here, 3G networks are already in full swing, the introduction of 4G has begun. You can also connect to the Internet using cellular networks. Cable TV is available in many towns and villages. Where it is absent, there is satellite TV.
Costa Rica has spicy food. The food in this country is distinguished by its softness, the emphasis is on herbs and spices. The local cuisine uses garlic, cilantro and bell peppers with might and main, while hot peppers are rarely used. Those who love spicy food should look for a hot chilero sauce that tastes better than the famous Tabasco.
Monkeys roam everywhere in Costa Rica. This statement is half true. The country has a really rich fauna - even in the suburbs of the capital, parrots live. But monkeys, like sloths, prefer more secluded and quieter places. You can meet these animals only in small coastal cities.