Location:Costa Rica is one of the several small nations that together comprise the isthmus of Central America. The country's borders are defined by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. This convergence of land and water makes the region a great bottleneck, which is rich in ecological diversity.

Costa Rica SunsetArea: 51,100 sq km (19,929 square miles)

Geographical Division:Costa Rica is divided into seven provinces: Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas and San José (also the Capital City).

Climate: Average temperature approximately 27º C / 80º F.

Time: GMT / UTC minus 6 hours

Language:The official language in Costa Rica is Spanish (97% of the population); although there are other native languages used mostly within the indigenous reserves. Many businesses, in and around San José and resorts throughout the country have employees who also speak English. There is a large English-speaking population in the province of Limón, as well.

Electricity: 110V, 60 Hz

Currency & Exchange Rate:The Colon (¢1.00) is the national currency of Costa Rica.The exchange rate with the US dollar can vary from day to day, but as of March 1, 2011, it was ¢497 colones per dollar.

Credit Cards:Most international credit cards, such as Visa / Master Card / American Express / Diners Club are accepted throughout the country. Automated Teller Machines (ATM's) are easily found in the most populated areas of Costa Rica.

Tipping:Most restaurants include a 10% service charge on the bill. Taxi drivers generally do not receive tips. If you are satisfied with the service you've received, hotel maids, tour guides and drivers would appreciate a tip.

Departure Tax: US $26.00 since May 2004.

Visa Requirements:

Visitors from the following countries are allowed to stay for 90 days without a visa:Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, United States and all European countries except Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czech Republics, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Visitors from these countries are allowed to stay for 30 days without a visa:Australia, Belize, China, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, The Philippines and Venezuela.

Costa Rica ButterflySuggested items to take with you : Pants, shorts, T-shirts, hiking shoes, socks, bathing suit, sandals, waterproof sunscreen, sunglasses, travel dictionary, light-weight hat, day pack, light rain jacket, flashlight, insect repellent, umbrella, casual attire for evenings, binoculars, camera and film.

MAP: A great hand made, 3-D, cartoon-like map with fun places to visit, all the major highways, gas stations, points of interest and a practical guide of flora and Fauna. Co-sponsored by the Tropical Sierra Foundation. Measures 24" x 37", suitable for framing. Helpful map websites; www.maptak.com, www.visitcostarica.com, and www.costaricamapguide.com

The most favored real estate locations by expats in the central valley are Santa Ana Costa Rica real estate and Escazu as they boast some of the best weather and climate in Costa Rica.

When it comes to beach living, many foreigners tend to go to Jaco Beach, Manual Antonio and Puntarenas.