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Country Profile

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a middle-income, developing country with a strong democratic tradition. Tourist facilities are extensive and generally adequate. The capital is San Jose. English is a second language for many Costa Ricans. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Costa Rica for additional information.

Costa Rica


Image of Costa Rica
Country Name: Costa Rica
Continent: Central America
Capital City: San Jose
Boundary Countries: Nicaragua, Panama
Recommended Hospitals in Capital: Heredia: Centro Medico Cambronero, Centro Medico Cabezas
San Jose: Advance Dental, Centro Digestivo Dres. Con, Hospital CIMA San Jose, Hospital Clinica Biblica, Hospital La Catolica, Hospital Santa Maria
Heredia: Clínica Cedcas
Puntarenas: Clinica San Rafael, Monsenor Sanabria Hospital
San Jose: Hospital Cristiano Jerusalem
Main Cities: San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia, Puntarenas, Cartago, San Isidrio, Limón, Guapiles, Jaco
Country Size: 51,100 sq km, including Isla del Coco
Population: 4,075,261



Spanish (official), English

Currency: Costa Rican Colon (CRC)
Predominant Religions:

Roman Catholic 76.3%, Evangelical 13.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.3%, other Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%

National Holidays: Independence Day, 15 September (1821)
Economic Status:

Costa Rica is a middle-income, developing country with a strong democratic tradition. Costa Rica's basically stable economy depends on tourism, agriculture and electronics exports. Poverty has been substantially reduced over the past 15 years, and a strong social safety net has been put into place. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and high education levels, and tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange.


Note: no regular military forces; Ministry of Public Security, Government, and Police

US Presence:

The U.S.Embassy is located in Pavas, San Jose, and may be reached at (506) 519-2000;the extension for the Consular Section is 2453. The Embassy is open Monday through Friday,and is closed on Costa Rican and U.S. holidays. Those seeking information are strongly encouraged to utilize the Embassy web site: http://sanjose.usembassy.gov/ and can email consularsanjose@state.gov with any questions/concerns. For emergencies arising outside normal business hours, U.S. citizens may call (506) 220-3127 and ask for the duty officer.

Document Requirements:

For entry into Costa Rica, U.S. citizens must present valid passports that will not expire for at least thirty days after arrival, and a roundtrip/outbound ticket.  Airlines should not permit passengers to board flights to Costa Rica without a roundtrip ticket unless they have Costa Rican residency or visa.  Passports should be in good condition; Costa Rican immigration will deny entry if the passport is damaged in any way.  Costa Rican authorities generally permit U.S. citizens to stay up to ninety days; to stay beyond the period granted, travelers must submit an application for an extension to the Office of Temporary Permits in the Costa Rican Department of Immigration.  Tourist visas are usually not extended except under special circumstances, and extension requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  There is a departure tax for short-term visitors.  Tourists who stay over ninety days may experience a delay at the airport when departing, and persons who overstayed previously may be denied entry to Costa Rica.

Persons traveling to Costa Rica from some countries in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa must provide evidence of a valid yellow fever vaccination prior to entry.  The South American countries include Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

See “SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES” for information on requirements to carry documentation within Costa Rica and on travel by dual national minors.   

The most authoritative and up-to-date information on Costa Rican entry and exit requirements may be obtained from the Consular Section of the Embassy of Costa Rica at 2114 “S” Street NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 234-2945/46 , fax (202) 265-4795.  You may visit the Embassy of Costa Rica web site or contact the Embassy via email.  You may also obtain information  from the Costa Rican consulates in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Juan (Puerto Rico), San Francisco, and Tampa.  Please also see the Costa Rican immigration agency web site.  It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington or one of Costa Rica's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements before shipping any items.

Visit the Embassy of Costa Rica web site for the most current visa information.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

Major Airports:

Airports:  157,  Airports with paved runways:  32San Jose - Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO/MROC)

San José Airport, Costa Rica, PO Box 5026-1000, San Jose, Alajuela, COSTA RICA
Tel: (Ops/Commercial) +506 443-08-40, +506 66-06-95, +506 32-28-20, +506 31-32-80
Fax: (Ops/Commercial) +506 443-12-44, +506 31-21-07
Customs Hours: 24 hours

Servicing Airlines:
Risks and Precautions:

There have been no recent acts of terrorism in Costa Rica. Visitors to Costa Rica may experience the effects of civil disturbances such as work stoppages and strikes.Although infrequent,these acts can create inconveniences for visitors. On both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts,currents are swift and dangerous, and there are few lifeguards or signs warning of dangerous beaches. Several American citizens drown in Costa Rica each year due to riptides or sudden drop-offs while in shallow water.Extreme caution is advised. Adventure tourism is popular in Costa Rica, and many companies provide white-water rafting, bungee jumping, jungle canopy tours, deep sea diving, and other outdoor attractions. In recent years, several Americans have died on Costa Rica's flood-swollen rivers in white-water rafting accidents. Others have died trying to reach the mouths of active volcanoes. Americans are urged to use caution in selecting adventure tourism companies.

Mortality Statistics:

Infant MR total: 9.7 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: TOTAL 77.02 years (male 74.43/female 79.74)

Immunization Indicators:

Required: None
Recommended: Hep A & B, Malaria, Rabies, Typhoid,
Boosters: MMR, DPT

Infectious Disease Concerns:

Malaria: Risk in Alajuela, Limón, Guanacaste, and Heredia provinces. No risk in Limón city (Puerto Limón). Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Myiasis (botfly) is endemic in Central America. Protecting yourself against insect bites (see below) will help to prevent these diseases.

Overall Quality of Medical Services:

Medical care in San Jose is adequate, but may be more limited in areas outside of San Jose. Travelers may also find most prescription and over-the-counter medications available in San Jose. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S.medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States.

Providers in Network:
Direct Payment: 9
Referrals: 24
View Network Providers
Recent Medical Threats/ Concerns/Warnings:

Malaria, Whooping Cough cases in 2006. Also, a recent increase in Dengue Fever cases.

Communications Info:

Country Calling Code:  +506
Internet Country Code:  .cr


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