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Costa Rica is a beautiful and peaceful country that some have referred to as the "Switzerland of the Americas." Costa Rica is characterized by a mix of protected areas, social and political stability, high educational levels and a highly efficient infrastructure.

What is special or unique about your city?
Costa Rica is a beautiful and peaceful country that some have referred to as the "Switzerland of the Americas." Costa Rica is characterized by a mix of protected areas, social and political stability, high educational levels and a highly efficient infrastructure. All of these characteristics can be found in a territory of only 51,000 square kilometers. The country is surrounded by both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, only three to four hours away from each other by land or 45 minutes by air.

The country's strategic position, in the heart of the western hemisphere, reflects the government's positive attitude toward foreign investment. Its infrastructure, its access to international markets and attractive labor pool make Costa Rica an ideal place to establish commercial operations.

What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
The atmosphere is friendly and peaceful, and visitors, especially from the United States, tend to feel more at home in Costa Rica than in any other Latin American country. No wonder there are more Americans living in Costa Rica per capita than any other country in the world. They feel safe here since there is no army here and violent crime is minimal.

Are these impressions likely to change?
Not for most of the country. There is a region in northern Costa Rica, close to Nicaragua, where things might be different, due to low development. However, heavily toured regions such as Guanacaste are more similar to the tourist areas of San Jose.

What is the local language?
The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. Costa Ricans tend to speak more slowly than people in other Latin American countries. They are also extremely patient with people who are trying to learn their language. They will help them to learn Spanish and provide encouragement.

How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Costa Ricans who work in the tourism industry usually speak English. English is spoken everywhere, but mostly by those who have a higher level of education. It's advisable to learn at least the basics of the Spanish language. There are many Spanish schools for foreigners.

What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Discussing money, investments, or the stock market is not well accepted other than in business conversations when the topic cannot be avoided.

How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Costa Rica can be divided into several climatic zones, each of which is distinct. The Central Valley and San Jose enjoy the best climate in the country. The average temperature is 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit) and is tempered with a cool coastal breeze. In the highlands, the temperature averages 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit). In the lowlands or at sea level the temperature stays at around 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit), with hot days and sultry evenings.

Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Costa Ricans are not usually very punctual for social activities except for football matches, the cinema and weddings. They do consider business appointments to be formal and will arrive on time for those.

Mothers are regarded as the leading family figures. Grandparents and elders are highly respected. The national pastimes are football and discussions of politics. The people have a strong sense of democracy.

Costa Ricans are affectionately called "Ticos" for short. Traffic in San Jose during weekdays is very heavy. Streets in downtown are narrow. Many destinations require off-road vehicles, especially during the rainy season.

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