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Costa Rica Attractions and Things to See

Costa Rica, or more precisely, the Republic of Costa Rica is located in Central America, bordered by the Pacific Ocean to its west and south, the Caribbean Sea on its eastern edge and Panama to the south and east, with Nicaragua on the north. Costa Rica mean rich coast, and abolished its army in 1949, and the only Latin American nation that is included in the list of the world's 22 older democracies. During 2007, it announced that it has plans for the country to become the first carbon neutral nation in the world by 2021, and is now, the greenest country on the earth.

It has a fabulously rich culture and history, although it had small indigenous groups of people when the first Europeans arrived, and those that had been here would either die out from smallpox and influenza; or the mistreatment of them by their Spanish conquerors. Those did remain would be assimilated into the colonial society through miscegenation, except for small remnants like the Boruca and Bribi tribes that still inhabit the mountains of the Cordillera de Talamanca in the southern regions of the nation by the frontier with Panama. Like the rest of Central America, it would never fight for its independence, but in 1821, after the last defeat of the Spanish in the Mexican War of Independence, the government in Guatemala declared the independence of all Central America.

The country has many beautiful flora and fauna, and with only .25% of the world's landmass, it has 5% of the world's biodiversity. Almost a quarter of this nation is protected national park and areas, with the biggest percentage of protected areas in the world, and it has been able to slow deforestation from some of the worst rates in the world from 1973 to 1989 to almost 0 by 2005. One of the finest national parks that has become famous the world over is Corcovado, that is renown among ecologists for its excellent biodiversity that includes big cats and tapirs, with visitors viewing an abundance of wildlife.

It is the one park in the country where all four Costa Rican monkey species are found and include the white-headed capuchin, the Central American squirrel monkey, the endangered Geoffroy's spider monkey and the mantled howler. Hunting, illegal pet-trading and deforestation were the main concerns for its threatened status. Tortuguero National Park is home to two-toed sloths, spiders, three-toed sloths, a variety of reptiles, howler and white-throated capuchin monkeys and 32o species of birds. It is also well known for its yearly nesting of the endangered green turtles and the most significant nesting site for this species; with hawksbill, loggerhead and giant leatherback turtles living here as well. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve has over 2000 plant types that include many kinds of orchids, with more than 400 kinds of birds and over 100 types of mammals. The country has some seven hundred species of birds, and the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad is able to collect royalties on any kind of biological discoveries found there of medical significance. It is a hub for amphibians and reptiles, with the world's fastest running lizard, the spiny-tailed iguana living there as well.

The country is where the Mesoamerican and South American cultures would meet and thus their cuisine is a mix of African, Spanish, native American and other cuisine origins, that offer the traditional tamale and other foods made from corn; although the Spanish would bring numerous kinds of spices, domestic animals and other ingredients, with African influence coming in the late 19th century.

One of the mainstays of a usual Costa Rican meal includes black beans and rice, and is called comida tipica that is the backbone of the nation's cuisine, with many of its dishes prepared in oils high in saturated fats, but since their lifestyle is quite active, this just seems to add to their health. Cheese and other dairy products are seldom used, although fruits, vegetables are served with their meals. These people don't eat like Americans and like their European counterparts, they eat light meals, with small portions, with lunch, the main meal of the day. The majority of employers give their employees an extra hour for the post-lunch casado, which gives more energy for the remainder of the day, when folks need it, and less energy at night, when it could be wasted and therefore converted to fat reserves. Their meals consist of beans and rice, meat or fish and a carrot, tomato and cabbage salad, with the plantain or plantano, the Tico snack.