Costa Rica Advances as a Sports Tourism Destination

Costa Rica Advances as a Sports Tourism Destination

By Laura Alvarado, May 29, 2018, as Published in the Costa Rica Star , September 7, 2018

Costa Rica has been taking big and important steps towards becoming a sports tourism destination. The country’s particular characteristics, its many attractions, beautiful weather, safety, political stability, technology availability, together with the experience gained by organizing companies and the support offered by the government, have played a significant role in the growth of this industry.

“La Ruta de los Conquistadores” is probably one of the pioneers in sports tourism in the country, considered the first and original multi-stage Mountain Bike Competition in the World, and one of the hardest athletic events in the planet, it has been taking place in Costa Rica for 26 years (counting this year’s edition) and it has become a challenge for international athletes.

The excellent conditions the country offers for the practice of Mountain Bike are undeniable, and many smaller events are organized in the country that are used by athletes in the region as a perfect training opportunity.

Surfing has also been attracting many international sports figures throughout the years.

The Davis Cup, X-Knights, the San Jose Marathon, the 70.3 Ironman, Sport Fishing Tournaments, and the PGA Tour Latin America are just some examples of how the country has been able to attract this market and position itself as the perfect location to carry out different sporting events.

The sponsorship of the Ministry of Tourism through its Essential Costa Rica brand and the support of municipalities have become crucial for the organization of these events, which attract thousands of athletes and their teams as well as many fans, generating an economic benefit for the communities involved, the companies in the tourism sector, and the country in general.

An investment in infrastructure to be able to attract other sporting events is necessary.

Conde Nast Magazine Names Costa Rica International Destination of the Year

Conde Nast Magazine Names Costa Rica International Destination of the Year

By Laura Alvarado, May 12, 2018. As Published in The Costa Rica Star September 7, 2018

Prestigious tourism magazine Condé Nast Traveler Spain named Costa Rica the international tourist destination of 2018.

Costa Rica received the award, part of the Gold List Traveler Awards 2018, in a gala celebrated in Casino de Madrid in Spain, this event is celebrating its tenth anniversary.

Costa Rica was voted initially by readers and followers of the site among 25 destinations, and then it made the top 10 along with other beautiful destinations such as Ciudad del Cabo in Mexico, Scotland, Hawaii, Nicaragua, Kerala in India, Puglia in Italy and Samana in Dominican Republic.

Costa Rica was recognized as being a destination rich in biodiversity and for the variety of tourist attractions as well as its constant innovation in sustainable tourism.

Maria Amalia Revelo, who was recently named Minister of Tourism, stated that this award is a result that validates the efforts and development of strategies of promotion that have been carried out in the last years geared towards the European market, where the number of direct flights has increased considerably and the visitation has also seen a constant growth.

Costa Rica: A Great Destination to Enjoy With Friends

Costa Rica: A Great Destination to Enjoy With Friends

By Laura Alvarado July 26, 2018, as Published in The Costa Rica Star, September 7, 2018

They say that all you need in life is a great friend and a thirst for adventure. Traveling with friends, says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness, is a great way to focus on the “joy of camaraderie and increases a sense of fulfillment, confidence and resiliency.” For travelers looking to strengthen their bonds or spend quality time with their pals, Costa Rica is a destination brimming with opportunities for adventure, culture and relaxation.

Friends who travel together stay together. Those in search of cultural and natural attractions will find both in the Central Valley region. The country’s capital, San Jose, is home to many of Costa Rica’s most popular museums including the Gold Museum, Jade Museum, National Museum and the architectural jewel of Costa Rica, the National Theater. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, volcanoes and cloud forests friends can take a day trip to explore what Central Valley has to offer. The area offers numerous coffee estates, dairy farms, as well as sugarcane mills all waiting to be explored.

To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together. Those looking to enjoy the “Pura Vida” life at a more relaxed pace can head to the Limon Province in Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. The area, which is also known for its rich Afro-Caribbean culture, attracts anglers, naturists and water enthusiasts in search of unique experiences. Friends can head out bass fishing, embark on a fascinating excursion through the area’s interconnected canals or have the opportunity to witness green turtles nesting during the months of July through October at Tortuguero National Park. The area also provides visitors with the opportunity to enjoy some of Costa Rica’s best beaches and picturesque parks, which are complemented by the areas inviting culture. A wide range of activities allow traveling buddies to mix adventure with natural history, present day culture, gastronomy and music.

Life was meant for good friends and great voyages. The combination of breathtaking white-sand beaches, sweeping mountain views and ideal tropical climate has made Guanacaste one of Costa Rica’s most popular regions. Located in the northwestern corner of the country, the area presents a diverse geography, active nightlife and boasts many of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches, including those found at Playas del Coco, Tamarindo and the Papagayo Peninsula. Friends can enjoy everything from snorkeling, zip lining, hiking and more. Travelers can also visit an active volcano with natural hot springs, fumaroles and majestic waterfalls at Rincon de la Vieja National Park, or visit the Nicoya Peninsula for world-class surfing, quaint towns and wonderful nature reserves.

Good friends dream of adventure. Best friends go on them together. High up in the mountains of La Fortuna, travelers have the opportunity to experience ecological tourism in a natural and picturesque environment. Visitors can set out on adventures like zip-lining, a mountain water slide, horseback riding, thermal springs and more. Guests also have access to natural hot springs, scenic trails, pristine waterfalls, bubbling volcanic mud pools and more. Visitors to the region may also enjoy exploring the inlets and mangrove swamps of the south side of the region and marvel at the arrival of the Ridley sea turtles at the Ostional Wildlife National Refuge or discover Barra Honda National Park, home to Costa Rica’s only underground caves.

From mountain ranges and rain forests to breathtaking beaches and cloud forests, Costa Rica’s diversity of landscapes, climates and natural wonders provide friends with unlimited experiences to bond, enjoy thrilling activities together and make memories to last a lifetime.

Press Release: Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT)

TAPIRS ARE SO COOL  And Costa Rica is Their Last Best Hope for Survival

TAPIRS ARE SO COOL And Costa Rica is Their Last Best Hope for Survival

By Jack Ewing, as appeared in the Quepolandia, July 23, 2018


Biologist and taper specialist, Charlie Foerster, once told me about an experience he had while standing on a high spot looking down over an embankment into a river when a tapir walked across a shallow area and continued into a deep pool until its head was submerged. Its elongated nose stuck out of the water like a snorkel until the animal reached the deepest part of the pool, and it too went under the surface. The water was clear and Charlie could see hordes of small fish surround the tapir and peck away at all of the ticks, lice and other external parasites attached to its hide, while the tapir blew bubbles. After a while the large mammal surfaced, took several deep breaths and sunk back to the bottom repeating the process a couple more times. Finally it walked out of the pool free of all its unwelcome hitchhikers. Now that’s what I call cool.

The Central American Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) sometimes called Baird’s Tapir, is the largest land mammal in Central and South America. They are about the size of a small cow—an adult will weigh up to 350 kg—but are shaped more like a pig. A long, prehensile snout, that has also been called a short trunk, is used to grasp vegetation and pull it into the tapir’s mouth. The front feet have three large toes and a fourth smaller toe located a little bit higher on the foot. The back feet have only three toes. This puts them in the same family as the horse and rhinoceros, the odd-toed ungulates. They love water and are seldom found far from it.

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Karma Saving the Rainforest

Karma Saving the Rainforest

By Karma Casey for Kids Saving The Rainforest, as published in, July 15, 2018

KSTR vets helping injured sloth
Kids Saving The Rainforest

Hello again Quepolandia readers. Happy 20th birthday to this amazing magazine, which is twice as old as me! Thanks for reading!

This is Karma Casey, the spokes-kid from Kids Saving the Rainforest. For those of you who don’t know who we are, KSTR is a wildlife rescue and sanctuary outside of Quepos, Costa Rica. We help two-toed and three-toed sloths, monkeys, coatimundis, kinkajous, porcupines, parrots, and more! We also plant trees, put up wildlife bridges, educate the public, and do lots of other things to help save the rainforest. If you find sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife, contact our veterinary staff via What’sApp at 88-ANIMAL (506-8826-4625) and we can help!

This month’s article is about probably one of your favorite animals: A sloth!

I have interviewed some of the lucky, hard-working members of our veterinary clinic team to tell you all about one super special and amazing two-toed sloth named Senor Dona.

Dona is an adult male two- toed sloth who was found over an hour away towards Jaco. Kids Saving the Rainforest was alerted by our friends at MINAE and SINAC (two government agencies that work hard to protect Costa Rica’s environment and wildlife) that a sloth had been hit by a car. The wildlife professionals at KSTR quickly came to the rescue, and Senor Dona was rushed to our veterinary clinic.

Injured sloth rushed to vet clinic
Kids Saving The Rainforest

Upon examination, developing burns were discovered on Dona’s body that were evidence of electrocution. Senor Dona was sadly electrocuted, fell, and then got hit by a car. That’s a lot for a sloth! Due to his injuries, he cannot move the lower half of his body.

Kids Saving the Rainforest is doing everything we can to help Senor Dona regain the use of his legs and get well again, including giving special daily sloth massages, and trying non-traditional forms of healing to help him on his way! Joining our efforts is Dr. Tania Zeledon, a veterinarian from San Jose. Dr. Zeledon specializes in alternative healing therapies for animals. She travels to Quepos once a week to give acupuncture to people’s pets, and she is donating part of her time to helping Senor Dona!

Acupuncture for injured sloth
Kids Saving The Rainforest

Dr. Zeledon performs acupuncture on Dona, inserting needles into his skin at special acupuncture points to stimulate healing. Don’t worry, the needles are tiny and she is helping him to get better! She also performs Ozone therapy and therapeutic massage. The clinic team has learned lots of new and different ways of looking at healing animals from Dr. Zeledon, which Kids Saving the Rainforest can use to help Senor Dona and other animals who come to us needing help!

Senor Dona has been progressing slowly with everyone’s help. He still cannot properly use his back legs, but he has been able to hang some and with time we hope he will keep getting better and better. He is a brave and courageous two-toed sloth who has been through a lot!

If you’d like to help support Senor Dona on his journey to recovery, visit our website at And don’t forget! Slow down and watch out for wildlife as you are driving around Costa Rica! We share this beautiful country with many amazing creatures big and small, and they depend on us to treat with them with the respect they all deserve!

KSTR rehabilitation of wildlife
Kids Saving The Rainforest

A special thanks to Dr. Tania Zeledon. If you’d like to speak to her about acupuncture for your pets, you can reach her at (506)8854-8984.

To sign up for a guided tour of the Kids Saving the Rainforest wildlife sanctuary, please visit our website at or email

If you’d like to write to Karma, she can be reached at

Kids Saving The Rainforest logo
Kids Saving The Rainforest


Did You Know Rawlings Baseballs are Made in Turrialba, Costa Rica?

Did You Know Rawlings Baseballs are Made in Turrialba, Costa Rica?

By Laura Alvarado – July 3, 2018 As Published in The Costa Rica Star July 8, 2018

Rawling baseballs
Sharon Day, U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, photo credit: US Embassy Costa Rica

Thirty years ago in the area of Turrialba in Costa Rica, Rawlings Costa Rica opened doors after an agreement with the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE) and started out with only 15 employees, however, it quickly became one of the main employment options in the area and continues to be today the source of income of many Costa Rican families.

Rawlings Costa Rica is part of Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. a leading manufacturer and marketer of sporting goods in the United States which produces high-performance equipment and apparel for professional and amateur players. The company’s baseball manufacturing operations were moved to Costa Rica in 1987 in a Free Zone after the closing of a plant in Haiti as a result of political instability in that country.

The baseballs manufactured in Costa Rica are used in the Major League Baseball games, in the minor leagues and are also sold commercially.

The process of manufacturing a baseball is a lot harder that it sounds, it requires long hours of work (the balls are all assembled by hand), and high quality materials like leather, rubber and cork.

Professional baseball balls must weigh no more than 5 ounces. have a circumference of 9 inches and a total of 108 red stitches . Rawlings Costa Rica produces close to 2.4 million baseballs a year.

Rawlings employees close to 400 Costa Ricans, back in 2015 it trimmed down its uniform manufacturing operations in Costa Rica and moved them to El Salvador since this country offered cheaper labor and lower overhead expenses.


The Delicious Fresh Fruit You Can Find in Costa Rica

The Delicious Fresh Fruit You Can Find in Costa Rica

By Laura Alvarado – July 4, 2018 as published in The Costa Rica Star, July 8, 2018


Roadside fruit stands are a delightful culinary experience not to be missed while traveling through Costa Rica. The country’s tropical climate and fertile volcanic soil create excellent conditions for a wide range of fruits to flourish. Although travelers may be familiar with fruits such as mango, papaya, pineapple, bananas, and coconut, Costa Rica offers a wide variety of nutritious and tasty tropical fruits, which stand out for their freshness and exotic flavor.

Below are the top five must-try delicacies no traveler should miss on their next trip:


The Nance is a small yellow berry with delicate skin and a white pulp. It grows in clusters, which acquire a penetrating aroma. They are sweet and slightly bitter. The tree can be found in Costa Rica’s dry forests, savannas and coastal areas, such as Alajuela, Puntarenas, and Guanacaste. Nance fruit is often used to prepare beverages, craft liquors, ice cream and desserts. It is a rich source of vitamin C and fiber.


In Costa Rica, Guaba is synonymous with luck. When someone is particularly lucky, they are called “Guabero”. Not to be confused with guava, the Guaba tree can measure up to 50 feet high and produces beautiful flowers. The fruit pods vary in size and shape, but have a woody bark that contains black seeds covered in a white cottony layer of delicate sweet flavor. Due to its flavor and texture, it is also known as the “ice cream bean.” Guabas are usually available during the rainy season and are often used as an ingredient in salads and ice cream. Its seeds are often used to create jewelry, usually necklaces or earrings, which can be found in craft markets throughout Costa Rica. This fruit is rich in vitamin C, fiber and other micronutrients.


Cas is a small round green fruit that can be found throughout Costa Rica. The skin is thin and the pulp is fleshy and juicy. Cas juice, which is made with ripe Cas, is tart—somewhat similar to lime or lemonade, but has its own unique flavor. It is a Costa Rican staple during mealtime. Cas is available throughout the year, but is most common from November to August. This fruit is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber and potassium. It is also used to make ice-cream.

Mamón Chino

Mamón Chino is an exquisite round fruit covered in an intensely bright red skin, which is protected with soft thorns. The trees grow in clusters and can reach up to 65 feet in height. Mamón Chino is typically found in the southern regions of Costa Rica, where small and large producers, especially from the Corredores area, produce high quality fruit. The sweet and juicy pulp is consumed fresh, and is the ideal ingredient for the preparation of desserts, salads and drinks. Mamón Chino is a rich source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, vitamin A and other beneficial components for health.


Pitahaya belongs to the cactus family, is native to Mesoamerica and is also known as dragon fruit. The plant grows in dry stony areas, and is resistant to drought. In Costa Rica, it is found in tropical dry forests—mainly north of Puntarenas and Guanacaste. It is also possible to find the plant in some dry areas of the Central Valley. The Pitahaya fruit is oval-shaped with a bright pink and scaly surface. The pulp is soft and translucent, with multiple tiny black seeds—similar to that of grapes. The fresh pulp is a common ingredient in desserts, drinks, salads and ice cream. On the Costa Rican Colón, the Pitahaya appears as a symbol of the country’s natural heritage. This fruit is rich in vitamin C, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fiber; it is also a rich source of antioxidants.

But these are just a few of the many delicious fruits found in Costa Rica, theGuayaba, for instance, is similar to Cas in appearance but they are bigger in size and they are firm, they can be enjoyed by itself or can be used in juice, it is also used to make delicious jelly and jam.

Guanabana known as soursop is also widely found in Costa Rica and because of its creamy texture it is used specially for fresh juices and in ice cream.

Manzana de agua
(water apple) or Malay apple is an exquisite fruit that is easy to find during the summer months in Costa Rica, many people eat it with salt, while others prefer it alone or use it to make juice.

The Caimito or “Star apple” is also commonly found in the farmer markets, it is purple and round, it has a sweet flavor with milky juices inside, it is said to have a lot of anti-oxidant properties.

Last but not least, the Jocote are easily found in Costa Rica particularly during the summer time, the small fruit can be enjoyed unripe when their taste is more tart (add salt to it) or ripe when they are juicy and sweet.

For travelers seeking a culinary adventure that brings all the senses to life, Costa Rica’s road side fruit stands await. For more information on visiting the country, please visit


Top Three Most Visited National Parks in Costa Rica

Top Three Most Visited National Parks in Costa Rica

By Laura Alvarado – June 1, 2018  As published in The Costa Rica Star, June 1, 2018

Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio

National Parks, Wildlife Protected Areas, Biological Corridors, Protected Zones, Forest Reserves, Costa Rica has a number of protected areas that represent one of the country’s biggest assets as they attract millions of tourists every year.
The options of different National Parks to visit are many, 28 to be exact and 72 protected areas of variable types that represent 26% of the total area of the country; but there are three in particular that are currently the most popular among visitors:

1. Manuel Antonio National Park: This park has maintained the first place for several years. Located in the area of Quepos, Puntarenas, it received over 475 thousand visitors last year. The combination of lush, unspoiled forest, beautiful white sand beaches, coral reefs and wildlife as well as lively community and amenities, make Manuel Antonio an obligatory stop in your visit to Costa Rica.

2. Irazu Volcano National Park: The Irazu volcano escalated from fourth to second place in one year, this spot used to belong to the Poas Volcano National Park, which has been closed for over one year due to several important eruptions. Now, Irazu absorbed some of the visitors and takes second place with over 343 thousand tourists (from an average 140 thousand in the past). This is the highest volcano in Costa Rica, it is located in Cartago with easy access from San Jose.

3. Marino Ballena National Park : The famous whale tail, maintains its third place in the most visited national parks in the country, but it went from close to 143 thousand visitors to over 167 thousand this last year. With an extension of 110 land hectares and 5,375 marine hectares, the main attraction of this park are the sightings of whales and dolphins that take place during several months and also the natural formation of rocks and sand in the shape of a whale’s tail, one of Costa Rica’s wonders.

Costa Rica is the Latin American Country with Highest Life Expectancy

Costa Rica is the Latin American Country with Highest Life Expectancy

By Laura Alvarado – May 17, 2018 as published in The Costa Rica Star, June 19, 2018

Older couple sitting
Photo by

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the population in the American continent has won 16 years of life in average in the last 45 years; today, life expectancy in this region is of 75 years.

BBC launched a calculator that shows a person’s life expectancy based on the country you were born in, and using this tool and analyzing the results for Latin America, Costa Rica is in the first place, which means, it is the country with highest life expectancy in the region; globally it takes position 14 with 80.98 years according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 generated by the WHO.

The higher life expectancy in Costa Rica is associated with several elements, including security, health and education.
A study published by The Lancet Global Health in 2015 has Costa Rica ranked in position 26 among 187 countries when it comes to the number of healthy foods that are included in the diet.
High coverage of health and social security and adequate sanitary conditions are also part of the reason Costa Rica takes this privileged spot.

Costa Rica faces, however, challenges such as obesity in adults and nutritional deficiencies in children. The increasing costs of health attention are also a concern.

The second country to appear in the ranking is Chile, followed by Peru.

In Latin America the country with lowest life expectancy is Haiti with 63.97 years, followed by Belize and Honduras.

In the world, Japan holds the first position in highest life expectancy, reaching 83.94 years, in second place Singapore and third Switzerland.

In general women live longer than men in every country, and the biggest difference is marked in Venezuela where women live in average 79 years while men 71.

First Trimester of 2018 Shows a Growth in Number of Tourists to Costa Rica

First Trimester of 2018 Shows a Growth in Number of Tourists to Costa Rica

By Laura Alvarado April 23, 2018 as published in The Costa Rica Star, May 12, 2018

Tourism in Costa RicaAfter showing a decline in the number of visitors from the United States last year, the fist trimester of 2018 shows a growth of 6% in tourists from this country to Costa Rica.

The raise is also evident in visitors from other regions such as Europe with 14.2% in comparison to the same period of 2017 and South America with an 11.4% growth.

“The actions that we have taken in marketing and promotion as well as in terms of airlines are showing in the numbers with a very positive first trimester; however, a lot of follow up is required, coordination, and team work between the public and private sector so that those number continue in constant growth”, sated Mauricio Ventura, Minister of Tourism.

In January of 2017 the total number of visitors from North America (Canada, US, Mexico) was of 151,595 while in January 2018 Costa Rica received a total of 160,009; visitors from Europe in this same month went from 47,574 in 2017 to 52,920 in 2018; the same behavior is observed for February and March.

In the first month of 2018 the Costa Rica Tourism Board had already confirmed an additional 95 thousand plane seats, thanks to the arrival of new airlines and the increase in flight frequencies.

The Costa Rica Tourism Board has also made an important effort to have presence in some of the most important tourism fairs worldwide, promoting the country’s many attractions under the campaign “Costa Rica, My Choice, Naturally”.

Costa Rica has been able to position itself as an ideal country for vacations, adventure tourism, wellness, as well as medical tourism and is now making efforts to become a leader in the region for meetings and conventions tourism.


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.

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. There are so many reasons you could visit and some tourists visit there as they have marijuana rental homes. These are lodges, huts and even resorts that let you smoke as much as you like on your holiday, providing the ultimate relaxation. What more could you ask for? 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.

Animals You Will Only Find in Costa Rica

Animals You Will Only Find in Costa Rica

By Laura Alvarado October 21, 2017, as appeared in The Costa Rica Star, February 4, 2018

Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity is one of the many attractions this small country has to offer, the variety of fauna is more evident when it comes to birds, amphibians and insects. There are actually a few species that are endemic to the country, here is the short list of the animals you will only see in Costa Rica:

poison dart frog
Poison Dart Frog

1) Red Poison Dart Frog or blue jeans frog: Its beautiful red color lets predators know they are wise to stay away, it is commonly found in the rainforest

2) Golfo Dulce Poison Dart Frog: This frog also has a highly potent neurotoxin and its multi-colored body serves as a warning for possible predators. They are considered and endangered species due to the destruction of its habitat. As its name gives away it is commonly found in the South Pacific of Costa Rica.

3) The Great Tinamou (Tinamus Major): a species of ground bird, currently classified as near threatened as a result of deforestation. The Carara National Park is one of the areas recommended to see this bird, but it can also be found in forests of Sarapiquí. There are several species of this bird usually differentiated by their color and the area where they live, some prefer the cloud forest while others are happy in the dry forest. Are you fascinated by the birds of Costa Rica? If so, you might want to consider booking a birdwatching tour with Costa Rica Focus. You can visit their website here. Who knows which birds you might discover.

4) Mangrove Hummingbird: Hummingbirds are beautiful and of the more than 340 different types in the world, you can find over 40 of them in Costa Rica; the Mangrove Hummingbird is endemic to this country. Bronze and green colored this bird is considered as a threatened species. Their natural habitat is of course the mangrove.

5) Coppery-Headed Emerald Hummingbird: A tiny and beautiful hummingbird; it is found at middle elevations in the Caribbean and sometimes in areas of Guanacaste such as Tilarán.

6) Cocos Flycatcher and Cocos Finch: These two birds are only find in Cocos Island in Costa Rica. The Flycatcher is a small grey bird. While the Cocos Finch is the only of the 14 species of Finches studied by Charles Darwin that is not native of the Galápagos Island; the male is entirely black while the female is a heavily streaked brown with a paler underside; it’s the most abundant landbird on Cocos Island.

7) Black-cheeked Ant-tanager: Endemic to the Osa Península, this species of bird is listed as endangered.

8) Underwood’s Pocket Gopher, Cherrie’s Pocket Gopher and Variable Pocket Gopher: All species of rodent endemic to Costa Rica.

9) Black-headed Bushmaster: Snakes. A venomous pitviper very common in the areas of Puntarenas.

10) Los Diamantes Worm Salamander: A species of salamander only found near Guapiles, Limón and threatened by habitat loss

11) Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri Oerstedii): Also known as red-backed squirrel monkey it is found in the central and south Pacific of Costa Rica however it has also been seen in Panama. It is estimated that the remaining population of this monkey is of only 1300-1800 individuals.

Costa Rica is also home to several endemic butterflies and an estimated 600 plants species.


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 Takes First Place as Best Places to Retire Abroad 2018

Costa Rica Takes First Place as Best Places to Retire Abroad 2018

By Laura Alvarado January 4, 2018 – Published in The Costa Rica Star – January 1, 2018

Like every year, online magazine International Living offers its Annual Global Retirement Index, this is the 26th edition of this ranking where the top 10 countries to live a healthier and happier life are listed.

The ranking is done by a team of International Living contributors who cover five continents, expats that have experienced life in different countries. The list of best places to retire in the world takes into consideration different aspects such as: security, cost of living, climate, healthcare, etc.

Couple walking on beach
Retire in Costa Rica

Costa Rica went from position number 4 in 2017 to taking the first spot this year. The top 10 was completed with Mexico in 2nd place, Panama (3), Ecuador (4), Malaysia (5), Colombia (6), Portugal (7), Nicaragua (8), Spain (9), and Peru (10). The review created by Jason Holland, International Living Roving Latin America Editor states:

“North Americans have been flocking to Costa Rica for more than 30 years, attracted by the tropical climate; cost of living; top-notch, affordable medical care; bargain real estate; and natural beauty. People moving out of their area, and even abroad, might want to consider out of state real estate investing in order to make additional money from the property they’ve left behind which could go towards funding their new life.
I love Costa Rica. You can kick your shoes off on white-sand beaches, hike through lush lowland jungle or mountain cloud forests, and bask in volcanic thermal springs. Rent a furnished two-bedroom local style home for just $500 a month, buy an ocean-view property for under $200,000, spend $25 at the feria (farmers’ market), and come home with a week’s groceries for a couple….”

The review also highlights, security, a good modern healthcare coverage, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, the variety of climates and landscape and lifestyle that goes with it:

“For such a small country, Costa Rica also packs a punch when it comes to variety of climates and landscape and the lifestyle that goes with it. You’ll find expats living in the eternal spring climate of the mountainous Central Valley. This is rural and small-town Costa Rica, where expats live in towns like Grecia and Atenas amid coffee plantations and forested hillsides. From their terraces they enjoy coffee from local beans and views of the surrounding countryside.

Some prefer life at the beach. There are funky beach towns like Tamarindo and Playas del Coco, resorts, and luxury communities on the Certral Pacific. Head far south on the Pacific coast, and you discover rain forest-covered mountains, small coastal villages like Ojochal and Dominical, and the wild seaside of the Southern Zone. In the Central Pacific you have fun beach communities like Jacó and Los Sueños where you can find one of the largest full service marinas in the country plus the conveniences of the country’s capital, San José, an hour and a half down the road. The bohemian and undeveloped Caribbean, including towns like Cahuita and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, may be the most Pura Vida of all places in Costa Rica. You also have Lake Arenal, a highlands region known for a mild climate and rural charms; life on the lake is quiet and peaceful, with a close-knit expat community.”

Even though Costa Rica isn’t the cheapest country listed in the International Index Best Places to Retire Index, it states that it offers “Excellent bang for your buck”…” It’s possible for a retired couple to live very comfortably on $2,500 a month in Costa Rica. On this budget, they might eschew the “fancy” grocery store with imported goods in favor of the feria, where they can fill the fridge for the week for $30. Instead of hitting up the tourist restaurants that charge a premium, they might go to local sodas, restaurants serving up hearty Tico fare. But combine those cost-saving measures with the modest expenditures required on healthcare, rental homes, and utilities (no heating costs, and no cooling costs at least in Arenal and the Central Valley) and you can see how a good life can come at a modest price”.

But we all know there are always downsides to the expat lifestyle. For example if you are a U.S. Citizen or green card holder, you are legally required to file a U.S. tax return each year regardless of whether you already pay taxes in your residence country.

Consequently, it’s easy to fall behind on filing your US federal tax returns. Fortunately, there are Tax Amnesty programs to help overseas Americans and Green Card holders catch up on their unsettled US tax returns.

To find out more information on catching up on your overdue US tax returns, you could consider contacting a company with tax expertise like Expat Tax Online.

On the whole though, probably one of the biggest complaints among expats living in Costa Rica is as follows:

“The land of Pura Vida isn’t for everyone. In my time there, I had my share of struggles with bureaucracy and the flip side of Pura Vida—a relaxed attitude toward getting things done. But as a safe haven of civility in these complicated times, Costa Rica is that fascinating, solid, and dependable guy at the party who doesn’t feel the need to shout”.