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When it comes to adventure amidst nature, it’s pretty hard to beat Costa Rica. Go bird-watching at Caño Negro or trek through the Osa Peninsula whose luxuriant rainforests rival those of the Amazon. You can go fishing along its 800 miles of beautiful coastline or in one of the many rivers. Being north of the equator and 12° below the Tropic of Cancer means an abundance of rainforests. 15% of the country is comprised of rainforest and home to an unequalled density of wildlife, including 850 species of birds and over 9000 species of butterflies and moths. It’s no wonder why this eco-haven has been a popular destination for tourists and fieldworkers alike.
Costa Rica is only 288 miles long, but it’s one of the world’s top 20 most biodiverse countries, with more than 500,000 species. Packed in its 19, 653 mi2 is a changing scene of landscapes: from active volcanoes that use their rumblings and smoke to entertain spectators to tranquil beaches hidden next to forests of mangroves. Costa Rica is a leader in eco-tourism, and its many parks and reserves make sure these natural wonders are protected for generations to come. A variety of outdoor activities beckon visitors to take part in spectacular surfing, fascinating dives, or tranquil horseback riding on the beach.
Sandwiched between Panama and Nicaragua, Costa Rica has dedicated itself to preserving its natural resources. Its government worked with Panama’s leaders to establish La Amistad International Park, protecting over 1,545 mi² of forest shared by both countries. Costa Rica has 800 miles of coastline, and it only takes 3 hours by car to go from the Caribbean sea to the Pacific Ocean. To help maintain this pristine wilderness, the country has recently announced plans to be carbon neutral by 2021. Another unique fact is that in 1949, Costa Rica became the first country to not have a standing army, thus allowing the money that would have gone to the military to be invested in social programs and improve the quality of life of its citizens.
According to the New Economics Foundation, Costa Rica is The greenest country in the world and bursting with vegetation and animal life in its valleys, river life zones, and coasts. This is definitely a tropical country, and you are sure to see at least some of its 840 species of birds adorning its intricate trees. From monkeys to orchids and butterflies to mangroves, within the country’s borders are 5% of the world’s biodiversity, and you don’t have to travel far to experience it. Visit Tortuguero National Park to see its namesake turtles or take a dive off Coco’s Island to get a closer look at the vibrant colors of the native marine life.
Costa Rica isn’t all nature, though. Visit downtown San José to get a feel for what life was like under Spanish rule. Duck into a café to try some home grown coffee, Costa Rica’s major export. Coffee used to be transported from the plantations to the coast by ox cart, and you can see a huge version of the now national symbol in the major arts center of Sarchí. Before the Spanish arrival in the 1600s the country was sparsely populated by native cultures. Over the centuries of settlement, Costa Rica has become a more diverse nation through different immigration waves of Italians, Chinese, and Africans. Major cities occupy different ecological zones, so you’re sure to enjoy the changing variety of scenery around you.
Come and enjoy nature’s fabulous display of diversity in beautiful Costa Rica!