About Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country located in Central America that has unlimited tourist potential and is ranked as one of the most visited international destinations. One of Costa Rica’s main sources of income is tourism. Costa Rica is a democratic and peaceful country, and it has not had an army since the year 1949.

Although the country is small and it covers only 0.03 % of the surface of the globe, it proudly shelters a 5% of the existing biodiversity in the entire world. 25.58 % of the country is composed of conservation and natural protected territory.

Costa Rica is also an attractive country for investment and it offers great potential for the establishment of important multinational companies, thanks to the outstanding academic level of its population, as well as the high standard of modern services and social and political stability.

Main subjects

Geography and Climate
Our People
Health and Education
Business and Economy
Embassies & Consulates
Events Calendar

The official language is Spanish. The second language for a large portion of the population is English.


The official religion is Catholic. Freedom of religious choice is respected.




Costa Rica is divided into seven provinces, these are: San José, Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, Puntarenas, Guanacaste, and Limon. Each province is subdivided into regions and these are subdivided into districts.

The country has as a marine territory known as Coco's Island. It is a world-renowned natural reserve, located 548 kilometers from Cabo Blanco in the Pacific Ocean comprised of 2,400 hectares of land and 73,100 hectares of sea.

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    I.-Flags and Ensigns

    The national flag and shield are independent symbols that have evolved into one symbol known as the National Ensign.

    Bandera de Costa Rica

    Decree N掳 CLXVII of September 29, 1848 defined the characteristics of the National Ensign. 鈥淭he National Ensign of the Republic will be tri-colored, with 5 stripes placed horizontally, in this manner: one red stripe will occupy the center, which will be placed between two white stripes, followed by two blue stripes. The width of each one will be the sixth part of the whole of the flag, of which two-sixths corresponds to the red stripe; the center will have an embroidered white background with the coat of arms of the Republic. 鈥

    Note: The current emblem is used in the National Ensign. On November 12th of each year (according to the Decree N掳 768 of October 25, 1949), the 鈥淒ay of the National Ensign is celebrated.鈥.

    II.- The Emblem

    The emblem was designed in 1848, in a meeting where the president of the Republic, Jos茅 Maria Castro Madr铆z, his wife Pac铆fica Gern谩ndez, and other friends were present.

    Escudo de Costa Rica

    Executive Decree N掳 26853-SP modified the National Emblem. Published in edition N潞 85 of The Gazette (La Gaceta) on May 05, 1998, 鈥溾he National Emblem will represent three volcanos and one extensive valley between two oceans and each one of these a merchant ship. On the far top left which denotes the horizon will be a rising sun. The Emblem will be enclosed with two myrtle palms united by one wide white ribbon and it will have the lettering in gold with the caption "Republic of Costa Rica." The space between the outline of the volcanos and the myrtle will have seven stars of the same size, representing each of the provinces of Costa Rica.

    For the finishing of the emblem, there will be a blue ribbon in the shape of a crown in which the silver lettering will read "Central America." Law N潞 18 of November 27, 1906 modified the Coat of Arms, by removing the flags and war trophies that surrounded them and in its place a gold frame , following the same form that had been used in the coins, but less stylized. In 1964, the Coat of Arms had a name change to National Emblem鈥︹

    鈥淭he design of the official model of the National Emblem is adapted to the current decree. Following the description found in Article Eleven of Law 18 of November 27, 1906, reformed by Law 3429 on October 21, 1964. In addition to the specifications found in the above mentioned law, the color scheme of the Emblem is as follows: the valley: light green; the volcanos: greenish-blue - the color of the Costa Rican mountains. The volcanos are drawn smoldering in order to differentiate them. The rising sun is an antique gold color and the myrtle palms are dark green. The original five stars that were later modified to seven will be silver and the blue ribbon will be changed to light blue. The ocean is blue鈥he official model of the emblem will be mandatory for all public authorities and institutions that can or are required to use it. 鈥

    III.- National Anthem

    The music of the national anthem originated in the Administration of Juan Rafael Mora in 1852, he asked the young military band director, Manuel Mar铆a Guti茅rrez, to compose the music for the national anthem.

    Himno Nacional de Costa Rica

    In 1903, after the government麓s concern over the lack of lyrics for the anthem, a public contest was held for the national anthem麓s lyrics. The winner chosen was a young poet named Jos茅 Maria Zeled贸n Brenes. The National Anthem麓s music was officially declared in 1979 and its lyrics in 1949.

    Executive Decree N掳 551 of June 1949, officially declared the lyrics of the national anthem. 鈥 鈥 It is declared the official lyric of Costa Rica麓s National Anthem, the poetic composition of Jos茅 Mar铆a Zeled贸n Brenes and it reads:

    Noble patria, tu hermosa bandera expresi贸n de tu vida nos da; bajo el l铆mpido azul de tu cielo blanca y pura descansa la paz.
    En la lucha tenaz de fecunda labor que enrojece del hombre la faz, conquistaron tus hijos, labriegos sencillos, eterno prestigio, estima y honor.
    隆Salve oh tierra gentil! 隆Salve oh madre de amor! Cuando alguno pretenda tu gloria manchar, ver谩s a tu pueblo valiente y viril, 隆la tosca herramienta en arma trocar!
    隆Salve, oh Patria, tu pr贸digo suelo dulce abrigo y sustento nos da! Bajo el l铆mpido azul de tu cielo vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz.*

    IV.- La Guaria Morada (Lavender Orchid)

    The guaria morada (Catleya Skinneri) was declared the national flower on July 15, 1939. Its abundant bloom during the dry season makes it ideal to use in decorations for Lent and Holy Week (Easter).

    Guaria Morada

    Traditionally, the ancestors cultivated the guaria morada in the gardens in their indoor courtyards or in the backyard of their homes.

    Currently, there are farms where they have a conservation sanctuary for the guaria morada in Palmares, Alajuela and Naranjo.

    Agreement N掳 24 of June 15, 1939, designated the Guaria Morada as the national flower. Also, published in The Gazette (La Gaceta) N掳 137 on June 20, 1939.

    V.- The Guanacaste

    The Guanacaste is one the largest trees (10 to 30 meters). It can grow in an open forest up to an altitude of 900 meters, and one meter in diameter.

    Arbol de Guanacaste
    Its leaves are composed of tiny flakes which are constantly renewed and close during the night, altogether creating thin foliage with white globose flowers. The fruits are a species of curved short spiral pod.

    Executive Decree N掳 7 declared the Guanacaste as the national tree; also published in The Gazette (La Gaceta) N掳198 on September 3, 1959. 鈥淪ingle article. 鈥 It is declared, the forest species popularly known by its name "Guanacaste" and scientifically known as Enterolobium cyclocarpus (Jack) Gryseb, as the National Tree of Costa Rica.鈥

    VI.- The Yig眉irro (Clay-colored Thrush)

    The declaration of the yig眉irro as the national bird came in 1977, as a means of protection just as the rest of the birds in Costa Rica. It can be found in pastures with isolated trees or in the yards of the houses, public gardens or in scrublands, since they prefer open areas.

    Yig眉irro (Ave Nacional)

    The sound of singing males forebodes the beginning of the rainy season. However, what that beautiful song really means is the proclamation of its territory and the attraction of the females.

    Legislative Decree N掳 6031 of December 16, 1976, declared the Yig眉irro as the national bird. 鈥淎rticle 1. 鈥 It is declared, the Yig眉irro (Turdus Craye) as the national bird of Costa Rica. Article 2. 鈥 The State will oversee for the protection and conservation of this bird.鈥

    VII.- The Oxcart

    The traditional Costa Rican oxcart was used, along with two oxen, to travel long distances loaded with coffee from the agricultural farms to where the coffee would be exported.


    The oxcart was declared the national labor symbol in 1988 and currently do not transport coffee; however, the colorful paintings and the original designs created by artisans have given them fame worldwide. Today, a small traditional oxcart is one of the souvenirs that tourists can take with them when visiting Costa Rica. The tradition of the oxcart and the boyeo (ox herding) were declared by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in 2005, as Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

    Executive Decree N掳 18197-C declared the Oxcart as the national labor symbol; published in The Gazette (La Gaceta) N掳 131 on July 11, 1988. 鈥1st.- The Costa Rican oxcart has had a notable role in history, on social and economic development and as a popular art form in Costa Rica. 2nd.- The oxcart was the main instrument and vehicle that, during the 20th Century and the beginning of the current century, allowed for hauling and coffee exportation, staples of Costa Rica麓s economic drive. 3rd.- The painted or decorated oxcart has become a symbol that identifies Costa Rica worldwide and has promoted artisanal creation and promotion, mainly in Sarch铆 and Pursical. Therefore, it is decreed: ARTICLE 1. 鈥 Declared the Costa Rican oxcart as the national labor symbol.鈥

    VIII.- White-tailed Deer

    Its annexation to the national symbols list came in 1995, as the wildlife insignia.

    Venado Cola Blanca
    The white-tailed deer is light brown; the abdomen and lower part of the tail are white. Only the males have antlers, while the fawns have white spots.

    Its preferred habitats are open spaces such as scrublands, savannas and open forests, such as those in Guanacaste. If feeds on bushes, herbs, grass shoots, and some flowers and fruit.

    Executive Decree N掳 7497 declared the white-tailed deer as the wildlife symbol; published in Supplement N掳 20 of The Gazette (La Gaceta) N掳 110 on June 8, 1995.

    IX.- The Marimba

    The cheery notes of the marimba vary depending on the materials used in the manufacture of the keys and soundboard. This popular instrument came to Costa Rica from Guatemala in colonial times and spread in the region of Guanacaste and the Central Valley, it is believed that the Franciscan priests brought the instrument. The marimba has gradually been considered scarce, hence the interest to declare it as the national musical instrument, which occurred in 1996.


    Executive Decree N掳 25114-C declared the Marimba the national musical instrument; published in The Gazette (La Gaceta) N掳 167 on September 3, 1996.

    鈥1st鈥擳he Marimba, in its many types, is the musical instrument par excellence, associated with the most diverse national celebrations in Costa Rica, becoming a true national symbol. 2nd鈥 Even though the rich tradition when it comes to manufacturing and execution of the Marimbas is found in the province of Guanacaste 鈥 Mesoamerican Region 鈥 its range covers the entire country. 3rd鈥擝oth the knowledge of its manufacture as well as the know-how of the Marimbas is transferred from generation to generation through oral tradition. 4th鈥 It is necessary to safeguard and promote the techniques and knowledge regarding the manufacture of the Marimbas in Costa Rica. Therefore, IT IS DECLARED: 1st鈥 Declares the Marimba as the national musical instrument鈥︹

    Executive Decree N掳 31953-C of September 20, 2004, declared the National Marimba Player Day.

    X.- Independence Torch

    "... It is a representative national symbol of Costa Rican freedom and idiosyncrasy. And with the eventual declaration homage will be paid to Professor Alfredo Cruz Bola帽os,

    La Antorcha de la independencia
    manager of the "Independence Torch Run" - a celebration held since 1964 commemorating the independence from Spain for Central American countries, which occurred in 1821 ".

    Executive Decree N掳 32647-C declared the Independence Torch as a national symbol; published in The Gazette (La Gaceta) N掳 181 on September 21, 2005.

    XI.- Los Crestones of the Chirrip贸 National Park

    Los Crestones are found at the Chirrip贸 National Park (PNC) at 3,720 meters above sea level. One of the crestones is in the shape of a 鈥渘eedle鈥 and elevates to more than 60 meters high.

    Crestones del Chirripo

    This park is located between the provinces of San Jose, Cartago and Limon at approximately 25 kms., northeast of San Isidro del General. It is in a central area of the Talamanca Mountain Range, a mountainous system with a northeast-southeast direction, where the highest elevations in the country are found dividing the flat Caribbean lowlands of the Pacific.

    Legislative Decree N掳 8943 declared Los Crestones of the Chirrip贸 National Park as a national symbol; published in The Gazette (La Gaceta) N掳 170 on September 5, 2011.

    鈥淎RTICLE 1. 鈥 Declared Los Crestones of the Chirrip贸 National Park a national symbol.
    ARTICLE 2. 鈥 Authorized the Costa Rican Tourism Board to promote Los Crestones as a national symbol and to use it as country brand for promoting tourist attraction to the Chirrip贸 National Park.
    ARTICLE 3. 鈥 Authorized the Ministry of Public Education to incorporate, within its curricula, the link of this symbol as a transversal theme for civic education, a means of transfer of knowledge, values, customs, awareness, cultural, and moral behavior for the educator.

    XII.- The Manatee

    The manatee or sea cow (Trichechus manatus) is a large aquatic mammal without a dorsal fin and with a paddle-shaped tail. The body is typically grey or brown with rolls on its neck. The head is small and dull, with a pair of round and small nostrils. The trunk has stiff whiskers. It has 3-4 nails at the end of each fin. Its overall length is between 2.5-4.5 meters and weighs between 200-600 kg.


    Their habitats include lakes, bays, and major rivers. In the past, it swam north of the Caribbean slope, in the main streams of the Rio San Juan and south, in the area of Gandoca and Manzanillo (La Estrella River basin). Currently, they are only found at the Tortuguero National Park (mainly in Ca帽o Servulo) and at the National Wildlife Refuge Gandoca-Manzanillo.

    Legislative Decree N掳 9264 declared the manatee (Trichechus manatus) as the National Marine Wildlife Symbol of Costa Rica; published in The Gazette (La Gaceta) N掳183 on September 24, 2014.

    鈥淎RT脥CLE 1.- Declaration: Manatees (Trichechus manatus) are symbol of the marine wildlife of Costa Rica and of hope and interest of the Costa Rican children in the protection of natural resources present in the country.
    ARTICLE 2. - Institutional competence: It is up to the Ministry of Environment and Energy to enforce all laws and international conventions that are related to the conservation and protection of manatees and their habitat.
    ARTICLE 3. - Education and awareness programs: Government institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private and public companies should promote and cooperate in educational and awareness programs for the conservation of the manatee and its habitat, in accordance with the provisions of Law No. 7554, the Organic Environmental Law, of October 4, 1995. "

    XII.- The Pre-Columbian Indigenous Spheres

    The stone spheres found in southeastern Costa Rica, particularly in the Delta Diqu铆s, an extensive floodplain formed by the T茅rraba and Sierpe rivers. The spheres are presented in linear, semi-circular and triangular clusters, although most were removed during the banana industry period.

    Esferas Precolombinas

    Stone spheres and anthropomorphic large sculptures were placed in open areas or plazas of some of the main towns, particularly those located in the plains of the Delta Diqu铆s. Talented artisans were likely commissioned to manufacture the stone spheres. The largest might have involved the work a master craftsman and assistants. Their manufacture likely began during the Per铆odo Aguas Buenas (300 B.C.-800 A.D.), since a few sites of this period have been found associated with these spheres although there have not been intensive excavations of such sites nor are the dates absolute.

    The size of the spheres range from a few centimeters to 2.5 meters and weigh between a few kilos to 15 tons. It is not certain whether the rocks were brought to the sites or if the spheres were manufactured in relatively remote areas. It is believed that the areas were used primarily as symbols of rank, power and ethnicity.

    Legislative Decree No. 9265 declared the Pre-Columbian Indigenous Spheres as a national symbol; published in The Gazette (La Gaceta) No. 201 on October 20, 2014.


    • Meneses, Grettel. 鈥淭ema del mes. S铆mbolos Patrios Costarricenses鈥. Bolet铆n Electr贸nico Vol. 6, N掳 6, Junio 2013. Dpto. de Proyecci贸n Museol贸gica. Museo Nacional de Costa Rica.

    • Pacheco Ure帽a, Ana Patricia. Costa Rica. Sus S铆mbolos Nacionales. Centro de Investigaci贸n y Conservaci贸n del Patrimonio Cultural, Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud. 2010.

    • http://www.patrimonio.go.cr/patrimonio/simbolos_nacionales.aspx (Consultado el 3 de junio del 2015)

    • http://www.patrimonio.go.cr/biblioteca_digital/publicaciones/Simbolos_Nacionales.html (Consultado el 23 de junio del 2015)

    • http://www.museocostarica.go.cr/es_cr/tema-del-mes/s-mbolos-patrios.html?Itemid=117 (Consultado el 24 de junio del 2015)

    • http://www.sinac.go.cr/AC/ACLAP/PNChirripo/Paginas/default.aspx (Consultado 25 de junio del 2015)

    • http://atta2.inbio.ac.cr/neoportal-web/species/Trichechus%20manatus (Consultado 25 de junio del 2015)

    * Noble homeland, your beautiful flag/expression of your life it gives us;/Under the limpid blue of your sky/pure white, rests the peace./In the tenacious battle of fruitful toil/reddening of the face man,/conquered your sons, simple peasants,/eternal prestige, esteem and honor./Hail, gentle country!/Save oh mother love!/If anyone should attempt to besmirch your glory,/you will see your brave and virile people,/The rustic tools for weapons carry!/Save, Oh Homeland, your prodigal soil/sweet sustenance and shelter it gives us!/Under the limpid blue of your sky/long live work and peace.

    * Translator麓s note: a crest贸n is an outcrop, but because of the official name of these at the national park, it has been decided to keep it as Los Crestones.


The most important water passages in the country which serve the purpose for everyday transportation as well as a route for tourists are:

  • The Tortuguero Canals and Barra del Colorado, on the Northern Caribbean
  • The Sarapiqui River, on the Northern zone
  • The Matina River, on the central Caribbean
  • Part of the San Juan River, on the border with Nicaragua
  • The Cold River, the Caño Negro Lagoons, and Los Chiles on the Northern zone
  • The Sierpe River, on the Southern zone
  • The Tempisque River, on the Gulf of Nicoya

Other rivers of great importance are:

  • On the Caribbean: Pacuare, Reventazon, Caribbean Chrripo, Estrella, and Sixaola
  • On the Pacific: Bebedero, Grande de Tarcoles, Coto, Chirripo, and Parrita


The main airport is the Juan Santamaria International Airport, located in Alajuela. This airport is only twenty minutes away from San José.

Other important airports are:

  • The Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, located in Liberia, Guanacaste.
  • The Tobias Bolaños Airport located in Pavas, San José, for local as well as international flights.

There are also landing fields for local flights situated in different parts of the country such as: Limon, Tortuguero, La Fortuna, Tamarindo, Samara, Tambor, Quepos, Palmar North, Golfito, and San Vito.


The whole country is adequately connected by internal infrastructure. The main artery is the Interamerican Highway, which connects the two borders from Pe帽as Blancas all the way to Paso Canoas. The Cerro de la Muerte (Death Mountain) region has the road with the highest elevation in the country with an altitude higher than 3,200 meters above sea level.

From Puntarenas to Limon: 246 kilometers by land

From Peñas Blancas (on the Nicaragua Border) to Paso Canoas (on the Panama Border): 534 kilometers by land

HIGHEST PEAK: Chirripo summit of 3,819 meters above sea level.


LARGEST VOLCANIC CRATER: Poas Volcano crater. It has a diameter of 1,320 meters with a depth of 300 meters.

ELECTRICAL SERVICE: Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE).

Ninety seven percent of the national territory has electrical service. The voltage in residential areas is 110v.


Government sector: From 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday. National Banks: From 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Some banks offer their services after regular hours until 7:00 p.m. and others that are located in some shopping centers are open on Saturdays.


From 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Commerce in general, opens Saturdays and Sundays up to mid-day.


    • January 1st: New Years Day
    • April 11th: Juan Santamaria Day, National Hero.
    • Holy Thursday and Good Friday: Religious activities.
    • May 1st: International Labor Day.
    • August 15th: Mothers Day.
    • September 15th: Independence Day.
    • December 25th: Christmas Day.


    • July 25th: Annexation of Guanacaste Day.
    • August 2nd: Virgin of the Angels Day.
    • October 12th: Christopher Columbus Day.
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