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Costa Rica Information

Costa Rica is situated on the Central American isthmus, flanked by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea with a distance of approximately Two hundred forty eight kilometers (one hundred fifty five miles) between coasts. With a total area of 51,200 square kilometers (20,480 square miles), Costa Rica is no larger than the state of West Virginia , yet it contains 6% of the world’s biodiversity.


Costa Rica is well known for the premium that it places on peace, education and democracy, and is often referred to as "the Switzerlandof Central America". In 1949, the government abolished the army, allocating all would-be military expenses to education and health care. As a direct result, the literacy rate rose to 95% and still continues to be one of the highest rates in the Americas . International ports on both coasts; air, ocean and freight transportation services; a well-developed infrastructure and a strategic location at the crossroads of two continents make Costa Rica a contender in world markets. The government’s receptiveness toward new business ventures and excellent incentive plans have lured a growing number of multinational corporations to the country. Spectacular natural beauty and a peaceful atmosphere attract over one million visitors to Costa Rica annually. Nine active volcanoes, diverse forest environments, hot springs, wetlands, lakes, island reserves and nine hundred sixty six kilometers (six hundred miles) of beaches on two coasts account for the dramatic increase in tourism over the last decade. Costa Rica ’s varied terrain provides endless possibilities for activities ranging from hiking and white water rafting through national parks to surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving off the Pacific and Caribbean shores.


The odds of seeing wildlife are greater in Costa Rica than anywhere else in the world. The country is home to 1,240 species of butterflies, eight hundred forty five species of birds, two hundred fifty mammal classifications, one hundred sixty amphibian categories, two hundred eighteen types of reptiles and 1,013 varieties of fresh and salt water fish, including several endemic species found nowhere else on the planet. Costa Rica is also the world leader in terms of protected areas, with 27% of its land mass designated as national parks or reserves.


Whether your interest is business or pleasure, you’ll find Costa Rica a country of unequalled beauty, with friendly people, a high standard of living and an interesting blend of local and foreign cultures that truly make it the jewel of Central America.

Foreign Investment

Costa Rica remains one of the safest and most attractive countries for foreign investment in Latin America . The Costa Rican government and commercial sector maintain a decidedly pro-U.S. and continental stance in regard to financial security and tax laws. The economy is being transformed from its long-time dependence on coffee, bananas and cattle-raising to one centered on industries such as tourism, microprocessor production, and high-tech telecommunications services. Costa Rica is one of the most vocal supporters of continental free trade and already has its own agreement with Mexico and other regional countries. Costa Rica 's numerous free trade zones and tax holiday opportunities are designed to encourage direct foreign investment.

Costa Rican Government

Costa Rica enjoys one of the oldest and most stable democracies in Latin America . The Costa Rican political system is representative, consisting of three branches. The president is elected by popular vote every four years by universal adult suffrage (voting is obligatory). Legislation is the responsibility of the fifty seven - member National Assembly, which is also elected for a four - year term of office. The current president is Dr. Abel Pacheco (2002-2006). Because the political environment and legal framework are conducive to foreign investment, Costa Rica is regarded as one of the lowest risk countries in all of Latin America . Costa Rica is a full member of the WTO and the Central American Common Market, has a free trade agreement with Mexico , and is actively involved with the implementation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Ownership of Land in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has the oldest continuous democratic government in Latin America . Its laws and constitution are founded on well-developed traditions of guaranteeing the protection of private land and property ownership, extended by law equally to foreigners and residents alike. Neither citizenship, residency or even a presence in the country are required for land or condominium ownership. Accordingly, there are almost no restrictions to the ownership of land/condominium in Costa Rica , with the exception of direct beach front property, which is considered a national treasure.


To a prospective off-shore investor, the receptiveness of Costa Rica as a host country is an important consideration. Few countries in the developing world welcome foreigners through such transparent laws providing for and protecting the property rights of foreign investors on a basis equal to those of its citizens. Costa Rica's open door policy to foreign investment, combined with secure property rights, has earned credibility and acclaim by foreigners seeking a presence through real estate and direct foreign investment.

Real Estate

Foreigners are entitled to the same ownership rights as citizens of Costa Rica . Neither citizenship, nor residency, or even a presence in the country is required for land/condominium ownership. Generally for individuals there are no capital gains taxes on real estate in Costa Rica.

Ownership of Beach Front Property

Costa Rica maintains strict rules governing the development of ocean front property along its Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. Beaches are considered to be an inalienable national treasure. Accordingly, the first fifty meters above the mean high-tide line of all beaches are considered public lands which everyone may enjoy. No one may restrict access to or claim a beach as privately owned, with the exceptions of certain landholdings in port areas, old land grants or by some agreements made prior to 1973. In addition, all beachfront land within the next one hundred fifty meters of the mean high-tide line not titled prior to 1973 are subject to governance by individual local municipalities as a Maritime Zone designated to preserve the integrity of the natural coastal habitat. Contractual concessions for the proprietary use and development of Maritime Zone property are granted by the local municipalities as the means to ensure Costa Rica 's beaches do not succumb to haphazard and irresponsible development as have many pristive regions throughout the world.

Land Records

Costa Rica has a secure form of title registration to protect ownership records. In many ways, the Costa Rican system of maintaining property records is simpler and superior to systems in use by more developed countries. All documents are centered in the National Registry, where both titles and surveys are recorded. Records are kept in original form as well as in a central computer system and on microfilm. Duplicates of all records are updated daily, and sent to two fireproof vaults in separate locations from the registry. Any change in the status of a title, or any claim that might affect it, must also be noted on the title registry page, thus making it easy to verify true and correct ownership of land/condominium title.

Visas & Passports

Citizens holding valid passports from the US , Canada and most European countries are permitted to stay in Costa Rica for ninety days without a visa.

Health & Medical Services

No vaccines or special precautions are required to visit Costa Rica . It has a well developed and highly regarded system of national healthcare and is well known for specialty services such as plastic and reconstructive surgery, ophthalmology and dentistry at extremely reasonable prices. In addition, there are also therapeutic treatment destinations with volcanic muds and other natural components that are of special interest to many international visitors.


The Costa Rican "Colon" is the national currency, however US dollars and other major currencies are accepted everywhere. Credit cards: Mastercard, American Express, Visa and Diners Club are accepted. Travellers cheques should always be in US Dollars.


US and local telephone, fax, High Speed Internet and digital communication services are widely available throughout the country.


Samara as all other municipalities in Costa Rica , is required by law to provide potable water. Additionally The Mirador resort has a private well for sufficient water supply.

Costa Rica Healthcare

CMost of Costa Rica’s citizens subscribe to the government-sponsored national health care system maintained by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS). The CCSS has the responsibility of providing quality, low cost health care to all of Costa Rica’s working citizens and their dependents. Not only does the CCSS provide universal health care coverage to its citizens, but non-citizens are also permitted to partake in the system.


There is a network of 28 hospitals throughout Costa Rica that provide modern and reliable medical/emergency service. Doctors at these hospitals usually receive their initial training in Costa Rica and obtain more advanced training in their specialty in other countries, mostly the US. There are also more than 245 small clinics scattered throughout Costa Rica that provide quality health care even in the remotest parts of the country. Costa Rica’s world health care ranking is 36th, while the US is ranked 37th. Medical Tourism is very popular here mainly because of the high quality of the local physicians and facilities as well as the significant cost savings. Savings will generally range between 25% to 75% depending on the doctors and services provided. Dental Care quality and cost here are exceptional as well.


There are many choices for foreign residents when it comes to how they want to handle their health care needs. Choosing doctors, clinics, hospitals and the mode of payment all take careful consideration. As a general rule, the more one pays for their medical treatment, the more choice that person will have in which doctor they will go to, how quickly they will be seen by a physician, and how comfortable their accommodations will be.


To answer this question, many residents have combined the best of both the public and private medical systems to create a hybrid health care plan for them and their families. Here's how it works: Many doctors in Costa Rica that work in the public CCSSS hospitals also conduct their own private office hours during the afternoons. Foreign residents can pay the CCSSS membership fee (US$40-50) and visit the free clinics and hospitals in search of a doctor that they like. If this doctor provides a private service in addition to his public practice, the resident can take advantage of both worlds. They can make routine appointments with ease and little delay; however, should they need a complicated and expensive procedure, the CCSSS will cover the limit to annual coverage. The drawback to this coverage is the long lines and waits associated with public hospitals and clinics. You may also elect to have private doctors perform procedures at public hospitals.


Non-Costa Rican citizens can also buy health insurance from the INS (Instituto de Seguro Nacional). This private health insurance permits the insured access to private hospitals. Rates vary depending on age and gender and the policy only covers up to $18,000 annually. It also does not cover pre-existing conditions. Private hospitals are often less crowded and provide more personalized service, usually without the long wait associated with public hospitals. Many doctors work for both the CCSS and have private offices as well. Quality health care is available with both options.


An international health care insurance plan available to U.S. citizens living abroad is another option. There are many companies and options, just look up "international health care" on the internet to explore your options.


Pharmacies are commonly used in place of a doctor’s visit for minor illnesses. Pharmacists are well educated and able to diagnose and treat common illnesses and permitted to distribute medications as well. Most medicines are available without prescriptions: only narcotics and addictive drugs require a prescription. All pharmacies are required to have a pharmacist on the premises in order to be open for business.


The three most popular hospitals for foreigners in Costa Rica are:

Hospital Cima
Hospital Clinica Biblica
Clinica Catolica