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Costa Rica

CAPTIVATING COSTA RICA

Of all the countries that make up the amazing patchwork quilt that is Central America, probably none has quite the cachet of Costa Rica. Famed as a centre for eco-tourism, and rightly regarded as one of the most beautiful mainland destinations in its own right, Costa Rica has been turning heads and winning hearts for several decades of late.

With a population of just over four million people, Costa Rica is bordered by the Caribbean in the east, and the sparkling blue expanse of the Pacific to the west. Nicaragua sits to its north; Panama lies to the south.

Costa Rica is known for the amazing, vaulting canopy formed by its miles of natural rain forests that form its long, narrow spine. Lush, dense tracts of deep jungle tumble down to small, meandering trails that wind through this amazing hinterland like arteries. The sights, sounds and colours here are nothing less than an incredible, all out audio visual assault on the senses.

Parrots and macaws flit in and out of this surreal hinterland that seems to have a life of its own. But Costa Rica has more to flaunt than simply the amazing natural floor show of its beautiful interiors. Especially worth seeing is the Irazu volcano, with its adjacent, deep water pool. Last active as far back as 1965, the volcano has recently been exhibiting signs of fresh life.

The country is garlanded with a brace of sublime, surf kissed beaches that are among the best and most beautiful in the entire region. Those on the Pacific side benefit from some truly spectacular sunsets; these have a fierce, fiery clarity in a country largely devoid of natural pollution. Imagine riding a horse on a beach at that time of the day. Simply spellbinding as ideas go.

Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose boasts a wealth of Spanish accented architecture, plus many open air plazas. The Avenida Central is a pretty compact, totally pedestrian street the showcases the best designer shops, plus many open air bars and restaurants, in a subtle, very attractive setting. The city itself has a population of around a quarter of a million inhabitants, but it tends to be more low key than such nearby places as Panama City.

The economy these days is mainly technology based, though the export of coffee and bananas is still important, too. The standard of living here is generally quite high for Central America.

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