Guanacaste, Costa Rica – Costa Rica

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While Spanish is the official language, English is spoken by many people in Costa Rica–far more than in other Latin American nations. But if you want to learn Spanish, it is a great place for that. It will cost a little more than in nearby Guatemala, but the teachers are generally better educated also. If you decide to skip the Spanish lessons, you will find plenty of people who speak English to help you with whatever you are trying to do.

Costa Rica is slightly smaller than West Virginia. Because it is near the equator, there are about twelve hours of daylight and twelve of night all through the year. It has 802 miles of coastline, divided between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. So if you like the beach, fishing, surfing, sunbathing, you’ll love Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s poverty rate is lower than in most Latin American countries. Its high standard of living and well-developed social benefits system set it apart from its Central American neighbors. Through its sustained social spending program (almost 20% of GDP annually) Costa Rica has made huge progress toward achieving its goal of providing universal access to education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and electricity. This makes for a better quality of life for everyone.

In fact, it is such a nice place to live that less than 3% of Costa Rica’s population lives abroad. The overwhelming majority of expatriate Ticos have settled in the United States after completing a university degree or in order to work in a highly skilled field. About 65% of the population live in cities, most of them in San Jose, the capital, which had 1.515 million people in 2011. There are 1.32 physicians/1,000 population and 1.2 hospital beds/1000. Hopefully you won’t need them, but it’s good to know that they are there. With over one million landline telephones and more than six million mobile phones, communication is no problem.

In addition to the consistently pleasant weather, there are loads of things to do in Costa Rica. You can hike the cloud forest or swing along rope and board bridge walkways in the rain forest at the level of tree branches. You’ll get a close up view of tree-dwelling wildlife. Or bum around the beach, surf and swim to your heart’s content. Or go out on a boat for some deep sea fishing and bring home a sailfish for your trophy wall. All this and more is waiting for you in the paradise known as Costa Rica.