Centuries ago, friendly natives of this area presented Christopher Columbus and other explorers with gifts of gold. As a result, this land bridge between North and South America became known as Costa Rica or "rich coast".
Today, it still offers visitors a wealth of forests to explore, beaches to comb, volcanoes to climb, and rivers to raft, plus a treasure trove of flora and fauna to discover.
In a space the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica is home to 5 percent of all of the globe’s plant and animal species. It has more genuses of birds and butterflies than the entire United States. Plus, new species are still being discovered everyday in this country’s prolific habitats.
The political climate in Costa Rica has been peacefully democratic for over 100 years, while land titles and ownership have been honored throughout its history. Since literacy rates are among the world’s highest and there is no army in this country, the people think of themselves as "teachers, not soldiers." This collective attitude creates an atmosphere of trust that makes Costa Rica a very safe place to travel. Costa Rica is small in size and has an area of roughly 51,000 square kilometers (31,682 square miles).
Even so, it is internationally famous and recognized for the diversity and density of its natural resources and the fabled kindness of its inhabitants. These facts set it apart as an especially attractive destination for foreign tourists who, not incidentally, make far more than a million visits a year.
When it comes to weather, the Costa Rican climate is equally accommodating. With the exception of the higher altitudes, daily temperatures usually linger around a very pleasant 75° to 80° F (24° C to 30° C). Costa Rica experiences only two seasons -- dry (December through April) and rainy (primarily November to May with the wettest months being September and October). Temperatures are somewhat higher and annual rainfall is much less here on the Pacific coast.
Although some natural rocky formations may have the appearance and beauty of any other mountain, some bubble and boil inside. You should enjoy Costa Rica’s volcanoes, but judiciously. Among them, Arenal is active and, at night, shoots off natural fireworks. The dormant Irazú Volcano offers breathtaking views, and the inactive Poás Volcano has the largest crater in the world.