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Costa Rica, an amazing place for nature lovers...Every bit of the itinerary works perfectly and smoothly - Diana
This 8 day tour introduces you to some of the country’s highlights; rainforests, cloud forests, volcanoes, beaches, natural hot springs and an immense biodiversity that includes spider monkeys, sloths, lizards, frogs, quetzals and countless other exotic birds, butterflies and insects.
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Costa Rica is Spanish for “rich coast”.Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949 following a brief but bloody civil war.Costa Rica was identified by the New Economics Foundation as the greenest country in the world in 2009 and the happiest nation in the world in 2009 and 2012.Costa Rica was the first country in the Americas to ban recreational hunting.Costa Rica’s system of national parks and protected area covers nearly 25% of the country’s land area.There are 4 volcanoes near to Costa Rica’s capital San Jose, 2 of them active.Panama is the southernmost country of Central America and the whole of North America.The Darien Gap, a nearly impenetrable jungle separates Panama and Colombia.Panama has a strategic location on the isthmus that forms the land bridge connecting North and South America.Panama controls the Panama Canal that links the North Atlantic Ocean via the Caribbean Sea with the North Pacific Ocean.The Panama Canal is one of the most important shipping routes in the world.
It is believed that Costa Rica was first occupied between 7,000 and 10,000 years BC. Christopher Columbus reached the shores of Costa Rica in 1502 and the conquistador Gil Gonzalez Davila landed on the west coast in 1522. Due to the sparse numbers of indigenous people, Costa Rican settlers had to work their own land and the country was by enlarge overlooked by the Spanish Crown and left to develop on its own. The permanent settlement of Cartago was not established until 1563.The Spanish were defeated in 1821 at the end of the Mexican War of Independence, and Central America was declared independent. Costa Rica joined the short-lived First Mexican Empire and after its collapse in 1823 it became a province of the new Federal Republic of Central America. The Costa Rican capital was moved from Cartago to San Jose in 1824, and Costa Rica proclaimed its sovereignty and independence in 1838. Since then, Costa Rica has remained one of the most stable, prosperous and progressive nations in Latin America.Several indigenous tribes including the Cuevas and the Cocle, inhabited Panama prior to permanent settlement by the Spanish in 1517. Christopher Columbus had established a short-lived settlement in the Darien in 1502. The torturous trek from the Atlantic to the Pacific in 1513 by Balboa showed that the isthmus was the path between the seas, and resulted in Panama becoming the crossroads of the Spanish empire in the New World. Gold and silver came by ship from South America, was hauled across the isthmus and then continued by sea again to Spain.In 1821, Panama broke away from Spain and joined the Republic of Gran Colombia along with Nueva Granada, Ecuador and Venezuela. This union was dissolved in 1831 but Panama and Nueva Granada remained joined and became the Republic of Colombia. In 1903, Panama split from Colombia with the support of the United States and finally gained its independence.
Costa Rica is a small country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Costa Rica also comprises several islands including Cocos Island, which lies 480 kms from the mainland and Calero Island, the country’s largest island.The climate is tropical and subtropical. The dry season runs from December to April, and the rainy season from May to November. The weather is cooler in the highlands.The country, made up of coastal plains separated by rugged mountains is divided into several regions. The Central Valley region has the highest population density with the capital San Jose being located in this region. The Northern Plains is a mountainous region, home to the active Arenal volcano, hot springs and volcanic lakes. The Central Pacific region is the coastal zone that encompasses Manuel Antonio National Park and Puntarenas, one of the access points for the Monteverde Cloud Forest. South Pacific Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse environments in the world, and also offers beautiful and remote tropical beaches. Finally there is Guanacaste in the north, near to the Nicaraguan border, the “dry” region of Costa Rica, home to some beautiful beaches as well as the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park.The highest point in Costa Rica is Cerro Chirripó (3,819m), the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is Irazú (3,431m) located just east of San Jose, and the largest lake is Lake Arenal.There are 14 known volcanoes in Costa Rica, six having been active in the last 75 years. Arenal is perhaps the most famous and most active of the volcanoes. It last erupted in 2010, but in 1968 its eruption destroyed the town of Tabacon.Panama is located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. Being close to the equator, Panama generally has fairly consistent temperatures year round. Daytime temperatures range from 30 to 33°C with night temperatures of 21 to 23°C. The climate is known as tropical maritime with a prolonged rainy season from May to November and a short dry season from December to April.There is a central spine of mountains and hills forming the continental divide. This divide is not part of the mountain chains of North America, but near to the Colombian border there are highlands that are related to the Andes of South America. The interior of Panama is comprised of upland plains and steep mountains, where the coastal areas are plains and rolling hills.The country is divided into regions, namely Central Panama, Caribbean West, Pacific West and Eastern Panama. The highest point is Volcan Baru at 3,475m.
Over 80% of Costa Rica’s population is white or mestizo with mulattoes (mix of white and black) making up over 6%. Costa Rica also hosts many refugees, in particular from Nicaragua and Colombia.Costa Rican Spanish is the official and first language of Costa Rica although some native languages are still spoken in indigenous reservations. Along the Caribbean coast a Creole-English language (Jamaican patois) may be heard. The country’s predominant and official state religion is Roman Catholic.Costa Rican cuisine is a blend of various cuisines including Spanish, Native American, African and Caribbean. Tamale is a traditional dish made from corn and representative of the indigenous population. Gallo pinto is a mixture of rice, beans and onion and can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Casado is another typical lunch made with rice, beans and meat, chicken or fish. It is served with salad and fried plantain. Salsa Lizano, a mild vegetable sauce with a hint of curry is the ketchup of Costa Rica!The culture, customs, and language of Panama are predominantly Caribbean and Spanish. 70% of the population is mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white), 14% is black/mulatto, 10% white and 6% Amerindian with 7 indigenous tribes.Crossing the border from Costa Rica to Panama you will notice a significant change in the dialect due to Panama’s Caribbean influences. Spanish is the official language, with 93% of the population speaking Spanish as their first language. Many people speak English as well as Spanish and some speak native languages such as Guaymi and Kuna.Panama’s predominant religion is Roman Catholic with estimates indicating that 75-85% of the population is of this faith.Music is a highlight of Panama with salsa music permeating throughout the Latin parts of the country. Reggaeton originated in Panama and is known as Plena. Cuisine is varied and in the larger cities you can find many styles of restaurant serving everything from French cuisine to sushi, as well as Arabic, Mexican, Chinese, Indian and Italian. In more rural areas the cuisine is Panamanian featuring seafood and beef and taking on the influences of Afro-Caribbean, French and Spanish. Most dishes are served with coconut rice and native vegetables.
Over the years Costa Rica has enjoyed a fairly stable economic growth with foreign investors being attracted by the political stability of the country and relatively high education levels. But despite this, poverty has been at a 20-25% level for nearly 20 years. The main agricultural exports include bananas, coffee, sugar and beef and tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange with the country being a key destination for ecotourism.Panama has the 2nd largest and the fastest growing economy in Central America. Revenue from the Panama Canal represents a significant portion of the country’s GDP. The canal was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914, but was transferred to Panama at the end of 1999. It is of major economic importance as revenue from tolls pumps millions of dollars to the national economy and provides huge employment opportunities. Economic expansion is expected to continue with expansion of the Panama Canal planned and implementation of a free trade agreement with the US. Despite all of this, over 25% of the population lives in poverty.
Costa Rica is a democratic republic, divided into 7 provinces that are further divided into 81 cantons. The cantons are each directed by a mayor, the mayors being chosen democratically by each canton every 4 years. Universal suffrage is granted to those 18 years of age and is compulsory.Panama is a constitutional democracy. The President of Panama is the head of state and head of government, with the cabinet being appointed by the president. There are 10 provinces and 3 indigenous territories. Universal suffrage is granted to all those 18 years of age and above and is compulsory. National elections take place every 5 years.The elections of 1968 were overshadowed by violence and accusations of fraud against one of the candidates. Over the next 20 years the political situation was tumultuous with oustings, military coups, repression against opposition, electoral fraud, dictatorship and regimes all coming into play. The dictator Manuel Noriega and his regime funded the military with revenue from drugs and money laundering. The US invaded Panama in 1989 to depose Manuel Noriega and bring an end to the 21-year military dictatorship.
Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla Miranda – 1st Woman President Franklin Ramón Chang Díaz - Engineer, Physicist, NASA Astronaut Luis Gabelo Conejo – Soccer Player Sylvia and Claudia Poll Ahrens – Olympic Medalists Nery Brenes - Athlete Panama John McCain – US Politician (Born in Panama)Mariano Rivero & Rod Carew – Baseball Players Roberto Duran – Boxer Guillermo David Endara Galimany – Former President