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Central America - Costa Rica

Costa Rica is in Central America north of Panama and south of Nicaragua. The Pacific ocean borders the country to the west and the Caribbean to the east.

The citizens of Costa Rica are affectionately called Tico's and Tica's. In all of Latin America, the Tico's are most like North American's in their thought process. There are many cultural differences but tourism and tourists in general are welcomed warmly in this country.

Costa Rica has the highest literacy rate in Latin America. Every four years elections are held with 95% of the population participating in the voting process. Costa Rica has had no military forces since 1946. 27% of the country's budget is spent on health care. Although there are demonstrations occasionally civil unrest is not present. Costa Rica is considered to be the "Latin American success story".

The country has 110 volcanic craters, six active volcanoes,mountain ranges throughout the central portion of the country and secluded beaches with rain forest filled with wildlife butting right up to the shoreline.

Temperature varies with elevation. Humidity is present and noticeable, especially at sea level. Mosquitoes are obviously part of any rain forest but are not as noticeable as most parts of Florida, for instance due to the natural predators maintaining an ecological balance not found in places like Florida. (Bring repellent with Deet however!) more »


Panama. Warm, tropical, palm trees silhouetted against the golden sky of a setting sun. Yes, it is all those romantic things. But it is so much more.

Its capital is the most modern city south of the U.S. If this is the third world, I missed the first somewhere in my travels. Panama City is a world-leading financial center with some 120 banks, many with competing glass and steel monuments to commerce.

Panama is shopping, U.S. style. Many of the stores found on Main Street, U.S.A., are here too. After all, the Panama Canal was run by Americans for almost 100 years, and the American military had a major presence here until 1999.

Panama once had a reputation as part of the pipeline for Colombian drugs. It suffered under the savage dictatorship of Manuel Noriega, until he was captured and imprisoned by American troops in December, 1989. The country has had a peaceful democracy ever since. Like Costa Rica, it has no military. Money is spent on education instead, and its people have a high level of literacy. And if you need medical attention here, your doctor is likely to have been trained in the U.S. or Europe.

Panama is silver sand on the Caribbean side and black volcanic sand on the Pacific side. It has the second-largest volcanic crater in the world inside which nestles a popular tourist and retirement town. (The largest is the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.) It is dessert and mountaintop. It can be humid all year, or like spring for all 12 months, depending on where you are in this small more »

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