• The Republic of Costa Rica lies on the Central American isthmus between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, consisting of a mountainous backbone – rising to 3819m at the summit of Cerro Chirripó, its highest point – flanked by low-lying coastal strips. Though set in one of the most geologically active regions on Earth, Costa Rica has suffered less from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions than its northern neighbours – the worst incident in modern times was the earthquake that struck near Cartago in April 1910, killing 1750 people.
  • The country’s population is largely of Spanish extraction, though there’s a substantial community of English-speaking Costa Ricans of African origin around the Caribbean coast, along with 65,000 or so indigenous peoples. Costa Rica is a young country: out of its population of 4.5 million, more than a quarter are aged under 15; men currently enjoy a life expectancy of 77, women of 81.
  • Costa Rica’s main exports are coffee and bananas, though in recent years income from these products has been overtaken by that from tourism. The country’s recent prosperity has also been partly funded by massive borrowing – per capita, Costa Rica’s levels of debt are among the highest in the world. Despite widespread poverty (around 21 percent of the population), the free and compulsory primary education system means that the country boasts a literacy rate of 95 percent, the best in Central America.


Everything you need to know before you set off.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Costa Rica features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

9 tips for travelling in Costa Rica

9 tips for travelling in Costa Rica

Inspired by pictures of Costa Rica’s primordial-looking shores, rainforests brimming with exotic creatures and steaming volcanoes that tower above the clouds?…

03 Oct 2017 • Chloe Cann insert_drive_file Article
14 magical sunrises that prove it's worth getting up early

14 magical sunrises that prove it's worth getting up early

Looking through the Rough Guides photography archive, one kind of shot stands out again and again: pictures captured at sunrise. Sure, there's nothing more temp…

16 Apr 2015 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
A Rough Guide to spotting wildlife in Costa Rica

A Rough Guide to spotting wildlife in Costa Rica

From world-famous national parks to little-known private reserves, Alex Robinson picks out six of the best places for wildlife-spotting in Costa Rica. Few cou…

19 Jan 2015 • Alex Robinson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook