Volunteer in Costa Rica

Enjoy the beauty of Costa Rica whilst engaging in marine conservation projects!

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Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica.     Photo credit: Nickolay Stanev, Shutterstock

About Costa Rica

Sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America, Costa Rica is reknowned for its impressive volcanic landscape and progressive environmental policies.  In fact it is the only country to meet all five criteria established to measure environmental sustainability.  It also possesses both Caribbean and Pacific coasts.

San José is the country’s capital city while Spanish is the official language.  The country’s population of nearly 5 million use the colón as their currency.

Highlights

  • Explore the diversity of one of Costa Rica’s national parks.
  • Surf in the pristine waters of Pavones.
  • Tour the Arenal Volcano and Tabacon Hot Springs.

Climate and Geography

Costa Rica has a tropical climate with both a wet (May to November) and a dry season (December to April).

The country’s terrain consists of coastal plains separated by rugged mountains, which also includes over 100 volcanic cones, several of which are major volcanoes.  The most active volcano, Arenal (elevation 1,670m), erupted as recently as 2010, while the highest volcano, Irazu, reaches an elevation of 3,432m.  The highest point in Costa Rica is Cerro Chirripó at 3,810m.  The country also encompasses several islands, including marine biodiversity hotspot, Cocos Island, a popular spot for shark diving.  Cocos is located 480km from Puntarenas, the furthest island from the mainland, while Calero Island is the largest of the islands.

marine-conservation-volunteer-costa-rica

Map of North America depicting Costa Rica.     Image credit: d-maps.com

Culture and Religion

Ethnically, most Costa Ricans are of Spanish or mixed descent, with Spanish cultural influences continuing to form an important part of day to day life in the country.  Due to inward migration, there are also some Jamaican influences in certain regions.  Rice and various types of bean are important ingredients in local cuisine.  Gallo pinto, a mixture of white rice and black beans with various spices and seasonings, is the national dish.  Pura vida, which means real living, is a popular phrase in Costa Rica and can be used to mean anything from a greeting, to simply saying that things are going well.

Roman Catholicism is the main religion in Costa Rica, with approximately 70.5% of the population following this faith.

Wildlife and Environment

Although Costa Rica represents only 0.1% of the world’s total landmass, it actually contains 5% of the planet’s total biodiversity.  Indeed, with its varied terrain, it has at least six types of ecosystems.  Encouragingly, the country has a larger percentage of its total area set aside in parks and preserves than any other country on Earth, with approximately 25% of its landmass under forest protected.  With more than 1,290km of coastline, Costa Rica also has a rich diversity of marine flora and fauna, including more than 7,000 marine species.  This includes approximately 25 species of whale and dolphin, as well as sea turtles, sharks, rays, manatees and a whole host of other marine wildlife associated with the country’s productive coral reefs.

Click here to see how you can work as a marine conservation volunteer in Costa Rica!