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The Allure of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is located in Central America, between Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the south. It is between 8 and 11 degrees north of the equator. To the west is the pacific ocean and to the east is the caribbean ocean. The water is clean and the coastal beaches are covered with white and black sand. It's a small country consisting of 50,895 square kms of tropical paradise. The total population is approximately 3 million. The capital city is San José with an estimated population of 400,000 people. The official language is Spanish, although english is commonly spoken in the business community and at most tourist locations. More than 90% of the Costa Rica population follow the Roman Catholic faith.

Costa Rica today has a high rate of literacy, having passed legislation in the late 1800's granting free primary education to all citizens regardless of gender. In 1949 Costa Rica dismantled its army and to this day it survives as a small undefended independent republic. All citizens are guaranteed equality before the law, the right to own property, the right of petition and assembly, freedom of speech and the right of habeas corpus.

Costa Rica has a well run health system administered by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS). Modern equipment and well trained medical practitioners, using up to date procedures is the norm. Because of their high level of education and expertise, Costa Rican surgeons are highly respected internationally and are ranked among the world's finest surgeons.

A valid passport is required to visit Costa Rica. A photo ID and birth certificate is no longer accepted as a substitue for a passport. If you want to stay longer, a valid passport allows Canadians and Americans to stay for up to 90 days. If you are a U.S. Citizen a passport is required. A visa is not required. If you need a passport, you may obtain a passport at many local post offices or county courthouses (the post office is best because they offer an expedited service that delivers your passport to your home address in just a few days). Go by, or call, your local post office and ask them for the closest post office that offers the passport service. All of the passport information is in large posters up on the wall in that post office. For complete U.S. passport information online, go to http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html. For additional information concerning passports online, go to http://www.costarica-embassy.org/consular/travel/documents.htm. Citizens of all other countries require a valid passport to enter Costa Rica. A visa may be required depending on your country of citizenhip. Visitors are required to carry their passport or tourist card with them at all times while in Costa Rica. A photocopy of travel documents along with the tourist's photo, passport number and entry stamp is usually sufficient.

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