Costa Rica is one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. The name translated in Spanish means “Rich Coast”, and it couldn’t be more accurate. Costa Rica is situated in Central America, bordering Nicaragua to the north, and Panama to the south. It’s a popular destination for nature seekers, adventure travelers, and retirees from all over the world. It is a tourist hot-spot, and is ranked #1 in Latin America for travel and tourism competitiveness by the World Economic Forum. This wealth of tourism has also raised the standard of living, and shortened the poverty gap which brutally affects other countries in the region.

The official language is Spanish, and it would be wise to learn at least a little before you arrive. Also, you’ll find many programs and classes once you’re there to help you improve. Obviously, as in most countries, English is spoken in major tourist areas as well as hotels. But without Spanish, you will feel a bit left out, and find it hard to acclimate to the local culture.

San Jose is the capital city, and by far the country’s largest, however you’ll find that most people prefer to live in more remote and secluded areas. Costa Ricans, or “Ticos”, as they’re often called, are proud of their natural surroundings, and environmental consciousness is one of the country’s top priorities. In 2008 Costa Rica was ranked 1st in the Americas and 5th globally on the International Environment Performance Index.  This, as well as thousands of acres of virtually untouched rain forests and mountains, is a big reason why people move there. Also, buying land is relatively cheap, so foreign property ownership is fairly common.

The educational system in Costa Rica is one of the finest in the Americas. Unfortunately, however, there is a lack of higher education institutions, so anything beyond a secondary level is fairly competitive, yet limited in variety. Many major American universities have permanent programs stationed in Costa Rica, specifically in the areas of biological, geological, and zoological research. Also, Costa Rica has a low crime rate when compared to the rest of the region, which is attractive to foreign students

Costa Rica does not require tourist visas from most countries, however with a few exceptions, up to 90 days. Work visas can either be obtained on a long-term basis, or if your stay is short, can be obtained as a “Business Visitor” visa. For more information on how to obtain a visa for Costa Rica, check out this great site.