Remodeling of Quepos Airstrip in Costa Rica Underway

Remodeling of Quepos Airstrip in Costa Rica Underway

By Laura Alvarado, February 17, 2018 Published in The Costa Rica Star, March 10, 2018

AirplaneThe Quepos airstrip is receiving an important investment of over US$9.5 million that will better the conditions and infrastructure with the purpose of strengthening local tourism.

The General Directorate of Civil Aviation explained that the runway will be built with hydraulic cement with a capacity of 50 thousand pounds of weight and will be extended from the current 13 meters (42.65 feet) in width to 23 meters (75.45 feet) and 1123 meters in length plus 200 meters of security zone.

Four parking spots for light aircraft, new paint for all areas, a perimeter wire mesh and new lighting. In addition, a new and modern domestic terminal with all basic services will be built, with adequate waiting rooms and food services as well as proper parking area for vehicles.

The new design and infrastructure complies with the norms established by the International Civil Aviation Organization for a 2B airdrome.

Enio Cubillo, director of Civil Aviation stated “This is an area of high visitation for both national and foreign tourists, this project is a tool to attract more visitation and generate more business in the area for the local community”.

The Manuel Antonio National Park located in Quepos is the most visited National Park in the country, driving from San Jose to Quepos can take over three hours while a domestic flight takes only 20 minutes.

Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica Has New Universal Trail

Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica Has New Universal Trail

By Laura Alvarado, February 17, 2018 as appeared in The Costa Rica Star, March 9, 2018

Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park

The Manuel Antonio National Park in Quepos, Puntarenas, the most visited National park in Costa Rica, has a new universal trail sponsored by the Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE).

“El Manglar” (The Mangrove) is the name of the new elevated trail that has a length of 784 meters (2,572 feet) and is 2.4 meters wide (7.87 feet); it was built over a mangrove, hence the name, in an area of the park that wasn’t accessible to the tourists in the past and which leads to Espadilla Sur Beach and connects with other existing trails.

The new trail was built and donated by the Engineering and Construction department of ICE and it complies with Law 7600 (Equal Opportunities Law for People with Disabilities) and has 10 bays that have information in braille language that describes the characteristics and attractions of each area of the park.

In the past few months the Manuel Antonio National Park has received several improvements that aim to offer better conditions to the more than 440 thousand visitors it gets every year.



14 Things That You May Not Know about Costa Rica

14 Things That You May Not Know about Costa Rica

Article by Charito Villegas, February 7, 2018 The Costa Rica News

Costa Rica, it is known for its beautiful natural scenery, its biodiversity and its wonderful habitants happy. Here are 14 interesting facts about Costa Rica to help make the country a truly unique place.


1. More than one-quarter of the land is dedicated to conservation. Tourists and locals alike feel attracted by the natural beauty of Costa Rica and undertake to preserve it. With 20 national parks, 8 biological reserves, refuges of animals, and protected areas, 26 percent of the lands of Costa Rica is protected.

2. Tourism is the leading source of foreign exchange for the country. All the natural beauty and diverse landscape with two oceans and access to a number of adventure activities have made Costa Rica a great holiday destination. In 1995, tourism overtook bananas to become the leading source of foreign exchange for the country. Tourism reached an all-time high for Costa Rica in 2013 with 2.4 million visitors.

3. Costa Rica is home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have designated four places in Costa Rica as world heritage cultural and natural value. These are the National Park La Amistad, the National Park Cocos, the Guanacaste Conservation Area, and pre-Columbian settlements chiefdom with the stone of the Diquis spheres.

No army
No army

4. Costa Rica is one of the 23 countries in the world that does not have a standing army.
Costa Rica dissolved its national army in 1948, and the abolition of the military was written into the Constitution in 1949, committing to provide support military to Costa Rica (and any other signatory) where you need it. In 1980, the United Nations University for peace was created and hosted in Costa Rica.

5. It has one of the highest life expectancies in the world.
According to the World Bank, Costa Rica’s life expectancy at birth is 80 years. This figure is higher than that of the United States (which is 79). The Nicoya region in Costa Rica is also one of the five populated areas by the longest-lived people in the world around the globe. All that natural beauty and happiness must be very good.

6. There are more than 200 volcanic formations in Costa Rica. Costa Rica may not be a big country, but it stores a lot of life on its borders. While Costa Rica occupies only 0.03 percent of the world’s surface, it has the highest biodiversity density on the planet. The country is home to more than 500.000 species. And, with nearly 3 percent of the world’s biodiversity contained within its borders, Corcovado National Park has been considered “the most biologically intense place on the planet.”

7. There are many butterflies in Costa Rica. Seriously, there are so many butterflies. Costa Rica contains approximately 90 percent of the butterfly species found in Central America, 66 percent of all neotropical butterflies, and about 18 percent of all butterfly species in the world.


8. There are also more than 50 species of hummingbirds.
The 338 known species of hummingbirds, about 50 live in Costa Rica. The smallest hummingbird in Costa Rica (the Hummingbird scintillant masculine) weighs only two grams. The largest (violet brewing) weighs an average of 11.5 grams.

9. Residents in Costa Rica are called Ticos and Ticas. The Costa Ricans refer colloquially to themselves as the Ticos (masculine) and Ticas (feminine). This is due to its practice of adding the diminutive suffix “tico” at the end of most of the words. For example, a little, the diminutive is a little bit (a little), but the Costa Ricans rather say a poquitico.

10. The Tico and Tica couples use a sweet expression of affection.
Costa Ricans use the term “Media Naranja” your significant other.

11. Most of Costa Rica’s radio stations play the country’s national anthem at 7:00 am.
The national anthem unofficially called “Noble Patria, Tu Hermosa Bandera” was first heard in 1852 to receive diplomatic representatives from the United States and the United Kingdom. The song, with music by Manuel María Gutiérrez and written by José María Zeledon in 1903, was officially named the National anthem of Costa Rica in 1949.

12. Costa Rica did not use street signs until the year 2012.
While a GPS would show you the names of the streets, in Costa Rica locals use landmarks to give directions. To get to the National Theatre of San Jose, for example, you would take “left, turn 100 (meters) south of Banco Popular.” While San Jose residents used street and number names until the 20th century, the practice fell after a population boom in the years 1950 and 60. In 2012, the city undertook a project of US $1 million to re-introduce signs on the streets and a more regulated postal system.

Pura Vida
Pura Vida

13. Costa Rica lives by Pure life.
Costa Ricans often greet each other and say goodbye by saying “Pura Vida”. But pure life, is more than a way of talking about Costa Ricans, is a state of mind. Costa Ricans take every opportunity to live life to the fullest.

14. Costa Rica occupies the first place in the Happy Planet Index.
With pure life as its philosophy, it is no surprise that Costa Ricans consider themselves some of the happiest people on Earth. The Happy Planet Index uses three criteria, life expectancy, well-being, and ecological footprint to determine the overall happiness levels of 151 countries around the world. With a score of 64.0, Costa Rica tops this list.

Costa Rica Included Among World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations.

Costa Rica Included Among World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations.

By Laura Alvarado January 23, 2018, as appeared in The Costa Rica Star, February 4, 2018

World Map
Ethical Travel Costa Rica

Costa Rica claimed a spot in the 2018 list of The World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations, a ranking created by Ethical Travel, an all-volunteer non-profit organization and project of the Earth Island Institute.

“Every year, Ethical Traveler reviews the policies and practices of hundreds of nations in the developing world. We then select the ten that are doing the most impressive job of promoting human rights, preserving the environment, and supporting social welfare—all while creating a lively, community-based tourism industry. By visiting these countries, we can use our economic leverage to reward good works and support best practices. No money or donations of any kind are solicited or accepted from any nations, governments, travel bureaus, or individuals in the creation of our annual list.”, states the report.

The ten countries that made the list are: Belize, Benin, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Palau, St. Kitts & Nevis, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.

Costa Rica also appeared in the 2017 list. Ethical Traveler explains that the list is created through surveys in which they focus in four general categories: environmental protection, social welfare, animal welfare and human rights; “For each category, we look at information past and present to understand not only the current state of a country but how it has changed over time. This process helps us to select nations that are actively improving the state of their people, government, and environment. Our goal is to encourage the behaviors we see as creating a safer and more sustainable world”.

Once they have identified 25 “short list” performers they focus on actions these governments have taken over the past year to improve or weaken policies and practices in their countries.

“For a country to make our list, of course, it must excel in more than metrics. Each Ethical Destination also offers unspoiled natural beauty, great outdoor activities, and the opportunity to interact with local people and cultures in a meaningful, mutually enriching way”, 
continues the report.

Some of the actions highlighted for Costa Rica include:

-The launching of an initiative in 2018 to aid elderly citizens in finding work; currently, only about 25 per cent of people over 60 are gainfully employed.

-The goal set of carbon neutrality by 2021; also the fact that Costa Rica ran nearly 100% in renewable sources and the fact that the plans for a new El Diquís dam, which, even though it would increase the country’s renewable energy capacity, would have a devastating impact on the lands of indigenous communities, were blocked in court.

-The commitment of the country to address the regional refugee and displacement crisis.

-The imposition of criminal charges for the illegal trade of shark fins, which made a historic ruling… however in this matter the report states: “Costa Rica is one of the world’s few countries to ban the export of hammerhead shark fins. Nevertheless, conservationists remain alarmed because the administration of President Luis Solís has worked tirelessly to lift the ban, imposed in 2015, to allow the export of eight tons of fins amassed since the ban took effect. This would be detrimental to the species’ survival. We will follow this issue closely when considering Costa Rica for next year’s list. Also a very positive evolution regarding animal rights in 2017, Costa Rica made killing, mistreating, or abandoning pets a crime.


Juan Santamaria Airport in Costa Rica Implements New Technology to Improve Arrival and Departure Times

Juan Santamaria Airport in Costa Rica Implements New Technology to Improve Arrival and Departure Times

By Laura Alvarado February 1, 2018, as published in The Costa Rica Star, February 4, 2018 

Juan Santa Maria Airport
Juan Santa Maria Airport, Photo Tico Times

The Juan Santamaria International Airport begins implementing new technology procedures of satellite navigation today, through which they expect to improve considerably in the times of arrivals and departures of flights.

The project, under the name “Costa Rica Pura Vida” is being implemented by experts in navigation of Civil Aviation and has the support of the airlines and Aeris, the company in charge of the airport.

The changes should better the arrival times and should also represent considerable savings in fuel and CO2 emissions, by bringing down the time that an airplane is flying.

“This project is complying with the regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organization, in reference to maximizing the use of aerial space, improvement in the environmental aspect and aerial navigation security”, 
explained Enio Cubillo, General Director of Civil Aviation.

Early arrivals and more agile would translate into less stress for the travelers that need to make their connecting flights; it would also avoid delays in land or air due to the use of conventional systems.

“Taking advantage of last generation technology systems is beneficial to the operations and the flow of airplanes. We are improving the capacity of the airport in a response to the increment in the number of airlines and operations in the past few years”, explained Juan Belliard, Director of Operations of Aeris Costa Rica.

Maximizing the use of the aerial space will make flights visible from the different locations of the Great Metropolitan Area like Escazu, Santa Ana, San Sebastian, Mata Redonda, Zapote, San Pedro, Tibas, Santa Barbara and San Lorenzo in Heredia.

Costa Rica’s Return to Forest in the Midst of Latin America’s Deforestation

Costa Rica’s Return to Forest in the Midst of Latin America’s Deforestation

Original article by Wendy Anders, May 3, 2017, The Costa Rica Star

Changes in forest cover
Changes in forest cover. Image by Rodrigo Ruiz

While Latin America as a whole has experienced marked deforestation, Costa Rica has proved the notable exception, and has sustained and even increased its forest cover, said a climate investigation published in the University of Costa Rica’s weekly Semanario Universidad.

What has led to Costa Rica’s success? The United Nations Organization for Agriculture (FAO) says state support and incentives to preserve forests have played a key role.

Costa Rica’s environmental services payment program (PSA, its initials in Spanish) is one of the most successful environmental public policies in the country’s history, and has been used as a model for other countries.

The country went from having 75 percent forest cover in 1940 to an all time low of 21 percent in 1987, as shown in the infographic included above by Revista Vacío.

Today, more than half of the country is forested and, about 50 percent of forested lands are classified as protected.

The environmental service payment program was formalized in 1997, having morphed out of some similar previous programs. Between 1996 and 2015, investments in forest-related PSA projects in Costa Rica reached US$318 million, according to the FAO.

The program pays for four types of “environmental services” on forested lands. These include carbon capture; water protection for rural, urban or hydroelectric use; protection of biodiversity; and natural scenic beauty or value for tourism and/or scientific purposes. In essence, the program is simple: if you keep the forest on your property, Costa Rica will pay you.

The report in Semanario Universidad found that the environmental service payment program tends to be more effective in areas far from national parks. This appears to be related to the fact that owners of lands near national parks can often find more lucrative uses for their land due to the presence of tourism, and so conserving forest for government payments is not as attractive as in more remote areas.

An important finding for the FAO was that while other Latin American countries cleared forests to make room for agricultural production, Costa Rica was able to increase conservation and sustainable management of forests without jeopardizing their food security. In fact, the FAO found that 70 percent of deforestation in Latin America between 2000 and 2010 occurred to make way for commercial agriculture.

Costa Rica has increased its food security since the 1990s by increasing agricultural productivity and importing food from countries with lower production costs, according to the recent FAO report.

While there continue to be poor, landless and vulnerable rural families suffering from food insecurity, Costa Rica appears to be heading the right way and has found a way to preserve its forest cover while maintaining good levels of food security, said the report.


Why this Texas doctor says Costa Rica’s health care system beats the US

Why this Texas doctor says Costa Rica’s health care system beats the US

The article originally appeared on International Living and recently published by Dr. John Michael Arthur on CNBC, January 13, 2017.


CIMA Hospital
CIMA Hospital

I was sitting on our cantilevered terrace, listening to birdsong and the river flowing below me. I pondered the 11,000-foot-tall Volcano Irazú in the distance. From the top of the tallest volcano in the country, it’s possible to see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on a clear day.

Suddenly there came a rapid-fire knock at the door. I knew something was different this morning—Costa Ricans rarely get worked up.

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New Bridge Provides Better Access to Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio Park

New Bridge Provides Better Access to Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio Park

Originally published in the Costa Rica Star by Wendy Anders, Dec. 21, 2016

Yesterday, transportation authorities inaugurated a new bridge at the entrance to the Central Pacific port town of Quepos, the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park.

New Bridge in Quepos
New Bridge in Quepos

The cement structure replaces a bailey bridge that spanned the Boca Vieja estuary, said the National Highway Council (Conavi, in Spanish) in a press statement.

Carlos Villalta, Minister of Public Works and Transport (MOPT), said at the inauguration the infrastructure cost ¢1.560 million (about US$286,000).

The two-lane bridge provides safer access to and from Quepos for motorized vehicles and also pedestrians, with sidewalks in both directions, said Vice President of the Republic Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría.

Costa Rica Celebrates 68 Years Without an Army

Costa Rica Celebrates 68 Years Without an Army

Originally published by Wendy Anders, December, 1, 2016, The Costa Rica Star

“Blessed is the Costa Rican mother who knows that her son at birth will never be a soldier,” said the well-known Japanese politician and philanthropist Ryoichi Sasakawa in one of his visits to Costa Rica, as reported in Costa Rica’s digital news source today on the anniversary of Costa Rica’s abolition of its army on December 1, 1948.

Costa Rica. No army since 1948.
Costa Rica. No army since 1948.

Costa Rica made one of the most important decisions in its history 68 years ago by abolishing the army.

In a symbolic act, with a blow to the Bellavista Barracks, carried out by the then President of the Founding Governing Board of the Second Republic, José Figueres Ferrer, the Costa Rican army was officially dissolved, reported

A series of events during that time, including the Civil War of 1948, and the ensuing formation of a Governing Board, which ruled for 18 months, allowed for important reforms in the country such as the creation of universal health care and education.

At the end of the Civil War and upon assuming power, the Founding Governing Board met with an extremely weakened army, and they jointly decided to eliminate it in order to invest the resources in improving the social and economic situation of the country, said

The day the abolition of the Army was announced, the keys to the military barracks were handed over to the newly founded University of Costa Rica so they could establish the National Museum as a center for anthropological studies.

On October 31, 1949, the National Constituent Assembly incorporated the abolition of the army into Article 12 of the Political Constitution, thereby ensuring to the permanent elimination of the Costa Rican army, reported

This year, the 68th anniversary of this momentous event for Costa Rica was celebrated with a symbolic act in the Plaza de la Democracia in downtown San José.