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ecoDestinations - Costa Rica
Literally translating to "pure life", if there were an official national motto of Costa Rica, this would likely be it. Trust us, by the end of your journey, it will be your favorite new expression. "Pura Vida is a word that identifies a Costa Rican wherever he or she may be. When you say Pura Vida the facial expression of the person changes and the person smiles. It is a word very meaningful to Costa Ricans. It reminds us of home and its' beauty."
Costa Rica, demonstrating its fierce dedication to peace and democracy, became the first country in the modern world to constitutionally abolish its standing army in 1948, and is today proudly the oldest and most stable democracy in Central America. Thirty-nine years after Costa Rica's declaration of peace with the world, the beloved leader of this peace-loving country, President Oscar Arias Sanchez was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. President Arias' efforts in promoting his "Peace with Nature" policy has inspired many Costa Ricans, who enjoy living with more trees per capita and per square kilometer than any other country in the world. Costa Ricans are also among the world's most enthusiastic tree planters, enriching their landscapes with a few million trees each year.
Pioneering Green Challenge
Costa Rica is also en route to becoming the first carbon neutral country by 2021. The famous vow by the Costa Rican government, delivered in 2007, to become the first carbon neutral destination, raised the standard yet again for the global ecotourism community.
Visiting Costa Rica - The Essentials
"No climate can, I imagine, be more favorable to fertility and to man's comfort at the same time than that of the interior of Costa Rica." - Anthony Trollope
Climate: With a climate that is diverse and varied, Costa Rica can be divided into several climatic zones, each of which are distinct and individual. Costa Rica has no real winter period, and the sun shines here throughout the year. With over 12 hours of sunshine a day, the sun rises at about 5 am and sets at about 6 pm consistently throughout the year. The main reason for the diversity in Costa Rica’s weather is the various elevations at which different parts of the country are located. more...
Geography: The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó, at 3,820 metres (12,532 ft), and is the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano (3,431 m / 11,257 ft). Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island stands out because of its distance from continental landmass (480 km from Puntarenas coast), but Calero Island is the largest island of the country (151.6 km² / 58.5 sq mi). more...
Biodiversity: 23% of Costa Rica's national territory is protected land. Costa Rica is considered to be one of the 20 countries with greatest biodiversity in the world. Its geographic position, its two coasts and its mountainous system, which provides numerous and varied microclimates, are some of the reasons that explain this natural wealth, both in terms of species and ecosystems. more...
Ticos - The Warm Hearted and Proud People
Costa Ricans call themselves, and are called by fellow Latin Americans "ticos." There are several theories on the origin of this affectionate nickname.
Population: Unlike many of their Central American neighbors, present-day Costa Ricans, population approx. 4.3 million, are largely of European descent. An estimated 10% to 15% of the population is Nicaraguan, of fairly recent arrival. Few of the Indigenous peoples survived European contact; the Indigenous population today numbers about 29,000 or less than 1% of the population. View a map of Costa Rica's Indigenous reserves.
Indigenous Peoples: Most of the Indigenous groups in Costa Rica are located in the southeast near the border with Panama. Although there is no consensus among historians regarding the various groups of indigenous peoples who inhabited Costa Rica in the pre-colonial era, it is generally agreed that the majority of the population spoke variants of the Chibchan language family. Indigenous NGOs estimate the current population of Indigenous people in Costa Rica to be approx. 70,000. Minority and Indigenous NGOs remain active in trying to bring about positive changes. Costa Rica's Indigenous movement is a fairly recent development of the 1980s but it has become very vocal in protecting rights, denouncing violations and abuses and demanding the recovery of lands. more...
Sustainable Travel Experiences in Costa Rica
Here are a few tools, organizations and programs that can help your search for sustainable travel experiences that make a difference!
Costa Rica Association of Rural Community Tourism
ACTUAR is an association of rural community tourism initiatives established in 2001. "Rural community tourism consists of planned touristic experiences which are integrated sustainably with the rural environment and developed by local citizen organizations for the benefit of the community." - Costa Rican Tourism Board, UNDP and the Alliance for Rural Community Tourism, 2005.
National Certification Program
Certification in Sustainable Tourism (CST), provided by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), aims to differentiate tourism businesses based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management. CST is regulated by the Costa Rican National Accreditation Commission and consists of a scale of 5 levels, indicated by green leaves, of sustainable tourism achievement. Find certified properties
Finding Sustainable Vacations
Eco-Index Sustainable Tourism by Rainforest Alliance features businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean that have been deemed environmentally and socially friendly by reputable environmental organizations and/or ecotourism certification programs. View Costa Rican companies recognized in the Eco-Index
Photo Credits: Cover - Anamaya Costa Rica Yoga Retreat; Featured Destination - Samasati Nature Retreat; Visiting Costa Rica - Rios Tropicales; Ticos - ACTUAR CONSERVacations; Sustainable Travel Experiences - Arenas del Mar Beach and Nature Resort