Costa Rica is home to one of the oldest democracies in the Americas. The country has been noted for its friendliness and preoccupation with peace. Its policy of active neutrality has twice earned it the nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1987 this prestigious award was presented to then-president of the Republic Dr. Oscar Arias. This, the fact that over a quarter of its territory enjoys protection in the ever-growing network of national parks and reserves, its continued dedication to environmental protection, and many other reasons answer why Costa Rica has repeatedly been referred to as the Switzerland of the Americas.

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Two recognized seasons; commonly called the Dry Season (December to April) and the Wet Season (May to November). We prefer to call the "wet" season the Green Season because the countryside comes alive like the springtime in temperate climates.

The Atlantic coast has no well-defined dry season.

The Pacific coast, the Guanacaste area, is the driest and hottest. This is where you can find most of the beach resorts.

The Wet Season (Green Season) brings daily afternoon rains to the country.

Temperatures remain nearly constant all year round with variations primarily related to altitude.

Lowlands temperatures average between 80 and 90 degrees; Central Valley temperatures average around 72 degrees.

Temperatures in the mountains drop into the 50s and below.

San José temperatures can be hot during the day, but usually cool off to sweater weather in the evening.

The coastal waters are an almost constant 74 degrees on both coasts.

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The modern telephone system provides direct-dial service to most countries, via satellite; it ranks among the best in Central and South America.

Telephone density is 11.1 per 100 with 80% of the population having easy access to telephone services.

There are seven daily newspapers (one belonging to the State), four weekly news magazines (one belonging to the State).

Of 119 radio stations, 102 are commercial and 17 belong to public service institutions.

Twelve color TV broadcasting stations.

Various cable and subscription TV services provide programming from satellite feeds.

The efficient postal system includes the central office in San José and branches in all population areas. The current cost to mail a letter to North America is 50 colones.

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There are 31 museums located throughout the country, preserving all aspects of Costa Rican heritage and culture.

14 theaters, plus numerous art galleries. The country's first bastion of culture, the 112-year-old National Theater (it celebrated 100 years in October, 1997), continues to host the finest performances from around the world.

Three symphony orchestras; choral groups

More than sixty movie theaters provide entertainment in all corners of the country.

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An agricultural country by tradition.

Exports and tourism are the mainstays of the Costa Rican economy.

Coffee and bananas comprise 50% of the country's exports and are at the top of the list for national revenue earners.

Tourism is rapidly becoming the number one economic earner. In the first trimester of 1996, 308,860 tourists visited Costa Rica, a 3.4 percent increase over the same period in 1995. They brought more than 300 million dollars into the national economy.

Non-traditional exports such as ornamental and cut flowers have given the economy a big boost in recent years.

The system of State and private banks is stable and modern. It includes most contemporary services like credit cards, automatic teller machines and computerized banking.

Official currency is the colon. As of December 26, 2009, the official rate was 563.77 colones to one US dollar. The current rate is posted on Cocori's Money Matters page.

The Costa Rican Central Bank issues all currency in the country and regulates the exchange rate of the colon. The rate is currently on a controlled continual devaluation.

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A State-funded, compulsory system of education was established in 1869.

The State system includes learning institutions at all levels.

The State currently spends about 27% of the national budget on education.

Seventy percent of secondary education is provided by public schools.

There are 3,879 educational centers educating more than 780,000 students, including 60,000 university level students.

93% of the population has at least basic reading and writing skills.

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US and Canadian citizens, as well as citizens of most European and Latin American countries must carry a valid passport to visit Costa Rica.

It is advisable to confirm your return flight 72 hours ahead of your departure date.

Get to the airport 2 hours before departure time.

Tourists pay a departure tax of US$26 (current as of December, 2009) at the airport at check in.

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