Costa Rica has a democratic government and friendly inhabitants happy to practice their English. More than 23 percent of its area has been set aside as nature preserves. Bounded on one side by the Caribbean and on the other by the Pacific, the country is blessed with spectacular coastlines, plus a mountainous interior carpeted by rainforest that contains the richest biodiversity on earth. Wildlife species include howler monkeys, three-toed sloths, spiny anteaters and sea turtles, as well as a rainbow of birdlife. There are no fewer than 66 volcanoes, of which six are active, including the tallest, Irazú, which rises to an elevation of 11,260 feet. A number of U.S. cities have nonstop flights to San José as well as to Liberia in the northwest.

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