About Costa Rica
With its rich biodiversity and pristine beaches
, Costa Rica draws birdwatchers and surfers, as well as retirees and young backpackers. More than 25 percent of the country's total land mass is protected as national parks. Its stable government and low crime rates attract travelers from around the world.
Costa Rica is located in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.
Costa Rica has a population of 4,253,877 (a July 2009 estimate), according to the CIA World Factbook. Its area is about 19,730 square miles, about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.
The dry season lasts from December to April, and the rainy season lasts from May to November. Warm, tropical weather persists throughout the year.
Costa Rica gained independence from Spain on September 15, 1821, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Costa Rica is a major travel destination for Americans, and many retirees own homes there. More than 700,000 U.S. citizens travel to Costa Rica every year, and another 30,000 to 50,000 Americans live there, according to the U.S. State Department.
Costa Rica has no standing army.
Based in Chicago, Cindy Gierhart has been writing and editing since 1999. As a reporter, her articles have appeared in "The Daily Illini" and "The Beverly Citizen." She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois and a master's degree in international law from the University for Peace.