Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banks in Costa Rica

Whether you’re planning to settle in Costa Rica for the long term or simply looking for a safe place to exchange a few dollars, an important decision you will need to make is "What Bank Should I Use?" Costa Rica offers a wide range of banking and financial services catering to personal as well as business banking. Recent government reforms and the introduction of private banking have also made Costa Rica an attractive choice for investing.

Costa Rica’s banking system consists of the central bank; three state-owned banks, which account for nearly half of total banking assets; a state-owned mortgage bank; 18 commercial banks; four mutual house-building companies; 12 private finance companies; and 27 savings and loans cooperatives. In addition, there are 30 investment and retirement funds or trusts run by both state and private commercial banks and the state insurance company.

The Central Bank of Costa Rica is in charge of establishing banking policy. It is then up to the SUGEF (the General Supervisory Agency of Finance) to enforce compliance with Central Bank policies. All banks (both public and private) are subject to the policies dictated by the Banco Central de Costa Rica.

When choosing a bank, take into consideration both personal convenience and what fees the bank charges. Get information on the types of accounts available and their associated fees from several banks. Internet services offered by both state run and private banks have improved in leaps and bounds over the past couple of years.

Most banks in Costa Rica now offer savings and checking accounts in Dollars and Colones. Banks do differ, however, on the amount of time it takes to cash foreign checks and the availability of ATMS. It is also very important to note that while interest is much higher on colón accounts, there is a monthly devaluation of the colón to the dollar, so you might not be earning as much as you expect. Many also offer Credit or Debit cards, if you meet the requirements (but not all are internationally accepted). All banks will also have different requirements for opening accounts or obtaining credit cards, possibly including banking or personal references, identification, and most likely minimum deposits. Opening hours for most banks are from 9 am to 3 pm.

State run banks are backed by the Costa Rican government and are therefore usually considered safer. They are also located in practically every town in Costa Rica. On the down side, long lines are frequent and bilingual staff is not always available (especially outside the central valley).

Private banks usually offer quicker and more personalized service, shorter lines and English speaking staff. However, they may have fewer branches available outside of the central valley. The great majority of private banks are connected with banks outside the country so that transfers can be done relatively quickly.

The following is a list of state run and private banks:

State Owned Banks

Banco Nacional de Costa Rica

Established in 1914, the Banco Nacional is the largest state commercial bank in both assets and number of branches.

Tel. (506) 212-2000

Fax. (506) 255-2436

Apdo. Postal: 6714-1000 San José

San José

Banco Central de Costa Rica

Regulates Costa Rican banking policies.

Tel. (506) 243-3333

Fax. (506) 243-3011

San José

Banco de Costa Rica

With branches throughout the country, Banco de Costa Rica is considered the most profitable and probably best-run state commercial bank.

Tel. (506) 287-9000

Fax. (506) 255-3316

Apdo. Postal: 10035-1000 San José

San José

Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago

Is the smallest of the state run banks.

Tel. (506) 223-8855

Fax. (506) 222-1911

Apdo. Postal: 5572-1000 San José

San José.

Private Banks

Scotia bank

Scotiabank offers a wide range of personal, commercial and retail, corporate, and trade finance services. With 13 branches across the country, and 1 more to be added to the network by the end of 2003, Scotiabank offers an extensive range of retail and commercial banking services.

Banco San José

The bank is part of the BAC Credomatic Network, comprised of eight banks in Central America, the Caribbean, and Panama, and Credomatic, the largest credit and debit card issuer and processor in the region. BAC Credomatic Network is the financial branch of Pellas' Group, a corporation with over 125 years of history.

Tel. (506) 256-9911

Tel. (506) 222-8208

Apdo. Postal: 5445-1000 San José

San José

Corporación Banex

BANEX offers customers advanced on-line banking services as well as a en línea le ofrece un avanzado y poderoso sistema de tecnología financiera que lo provee de información las 24 horas de día los 365 días del año, permitiéndole de manera ágil y segura, administrar eficientemente sus fondos, realizar sus transferencias electrónicas y efectuar, mediante una novedosa plataforma, diversas consultas sobre sus cuentas, inversiones, créditos y otros aspectos financieros.

Tel. (506) 257-0522

Fax. (506) 256-0210

Apdo. Postal: 7983-1000 San José

Av. 1, C. Ctrl, Edificio Banex, San José

Banco Cuscatlan

Corporation UBC International is the holding company that owns the Cuscatlan Groups in the region. This Group has duly regulated operations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and the United States of America, by means of family remittances. Corporate shareholders include partners such as the International Finance Corporation, IFC, in addition to the Central American partners of the most prestigious business groups of the region.

Tel. (506) 221-2845

Tel. (506) 220-2140

C. 28 y 30 P. Colón, San José

San José

Banco Interfín

Established 1979, Corporación Interfin S.A. is dedicated to providing international financing and business services for industrial as well as commercial companies.

Banco Cathay

Offers a wide range of banking services but relatively few branches throughout the country.

Tel. (506) 290-2233

Tel. (506) 296-5721

Pavas, San José

Banco Promerica

Established in 1992, Promerica offers a wide range of financial services. Branches are available only in the central valley.

Tel. (506) 296-4848

Fax. (506) 232-5727

Pavas, San José

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sea Angling in Costa Rica

Costa Rica fishing attracts a special type of angler to this little piece of sport fishing paradise. Usually an angler with a strong spirit of adventure who has heard the many Costa Rica fishing tales of anglers doing battle with the record size game fish that call this region of the Pacific Ocean home.

Sea fisihing in Costa Rica means an abundance of marine resources and the fishing grounds along the Costa Rica coast are teeming with big game fish just waiting for an angler to test his fishing skills. In fact Costa Rica has more than 3% of the world's marine biodiversity in its waters.

Situated in Central America, Costa Rica has extensive shorelines on both its east and western borders making access to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans easy. This means that regardless of where you are staying in Costa Rica you will never be that far away from a deep sea fishing experience.

On the Pacific Coast, the Osa peninsula is undoubtedly one of the best spots for deep sea fishing this side of the western hemisphere. This area is about 30 miles north of Panama, and is surrounded by waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Gulfo Dulce. The water of Gulfo Dulce have a high mineral content, which small fish feed off of. The waters are teeming with naturally growing bait, this area sets catch records year after year.

A number of companies have deep sea fishing tours, so you need these to help you go further offshore to catch a fish like the thirty-foot Stamas. You can also catch Yellowfin tuna, Wahoos, Giant Dorados, Pacific Sailfish and three kinds of Marlin. Near the shore, the 1000 ft. deep waters of the gulf is full of a variety of fish as well. Rain-forested hills provide a scenic background as you fish for Sierra Mackerel, Snook, Pompano, Amber Jack, 4 types of snapper and other exotic species.

Aside from being prime time for Costa Rica fishing, the winter also happens to be the migratory season for whales, and this is the dry season in Costa Rica, when you will find warm perfect weather and blue skies. Whale sharks, Blue and humpback whales can all be seen on a tour. 3 different types of porpoises live here year round, so you are sure to see them as well. Sea snakes and sea turtles are other creatures you can see on land and in the water as well.

The Atlantic has great Costa Rica fishing opportunities as well. The months of November and December see the highest volume of fish in the waters, as small snooks begin their journeys into the rivers. They are only on average 5 pounds, but are fun to catch, and sometimes there are 30-pounders mixed in with the little ones. Late fall is the best time to catch the action at the river mouth. During this time you might catch a Bonita Dorado or a Big Jack Crevalle on a Costa Rica fishing trip.

Wrestling with the fishes is half the fun, and the guapote is a lively one, even though they"re only 3 to 12 pounds. Machaca will fight furiously with their water aerobics as they try to avoid capture, and range from 4-9 pounds. Catfish can be easily caught just standing on the dock, so you can continue the fun even once you"ve returned from your Costa Rica Fishing trip. Whether you want to reign in the monsters of the deep, or love the excitement of chasing schools of smaller airborne fish, fishing in Costa Rica is a blast for any fisherman.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hot Springs - Natural Health Spas in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to a myriad of hot springs, each one a natural miracle of relaxation and each with its own health benefits.

Two of the best known hot springs are:

Tabacon Hot Spring

Tabacón has pools with Hot Springs water with different temperarures, surround by cascades and tropical gardens. Each thermo mineral water pool varies in temperature and depth, and some vary in mineral concentration.

Quepos Hot Spring

Quepos Hot Springs offers an opportunity to relax and renew in the mineral-laden water with seemingly magical powers. Bathe among the several pools with cascades of steaming water.
The gardens surrounding the thermal pools are among the most spectacular grounds in Costa Rica. The tree and plant lined paths provide privacy to the many pools, and you can be sure to find one where the temperature is just right. Beautiful tropical plants brimming with lush colors and aromatic fragrances surround the soothing pools. As you go from pool to pool, enjoy the beauty of these plants that can only be found in these sub-tropical regions.

Sources of heat

The water issuing from a hot spring is heated by geothermal hea, straight from the Earth's interior. In general, the temperature of rocks within the earth increases with depth. If water percolates deeply enough into the crust, it will be heated as it comes into contact with hot rocks. The water from hot springs in non- volcanic areas is heated in this manner.

In active volcanic zones water may be heated by coming into contact with magma (molten rock). The high temperature gradient near magma may cause water to be heated enough that it boils or becomes superheated.

The health benefits of hot springs are well documented: it can help you to relax your muscles and joints, and the hot bath is also beneficial in expanding your veins, stimulating blood circulation and speeding you your metabolism

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Province of Limon

Limón, also known as Puerto Limón, is the capital of Limon Province. It is the country's main Caribbean port city, including the terminals of Limon and Moin, and has a population of around 105,000 (including many neighboring small cities).

The city, and the province in general, is home to most of Costa Rica's citizens of African descent. Originally from Jamacia, these workers were brought to the area in the late 19th century to build the railrod from San Jose to Limon.

This rail line boosted the country's banana exports and economy in general. By the time the line was closed, the city was the country's primary harbor. Limón is also home to speakers of Mekatelyu a creole form of English.

Before the Spanish arrived in Costa Rica the area of Limón was inhabited by the indigenous groups called: Huétares, Suerres, Pococies, Tariacas, Viecitas and Terbis. Columbus came to the province the 18th of September 1502 when he arrived at the Uvita Island. During the second half of the 17th Century, people started growing Cocoa in the Valley of Matina. By 1871 the construction of the railroad began and right after that the plantation of bananas. In 1964 began the construction of a crude oil refinery and in 1979 the Province inaugurated their Port at Moín.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Costa Rica advances trade agreement talks with both China and SIngapore

Costa Rica has further advanced its trade agreements with both China and Singapore.

The ongoing discussions to set up free trade agreements between Costa Rica and China and between Costa Rica and Singapore are advancing and the Tico Times reports that these free trade agreements are expected to be signed in early 2010.

Costa Rica is always looking to advance is business competitiveness worldwide, with initiatives like the accelerated capital depreciation plan and rapid online work visa processing system for skilled overseas workers which were both introduced earlier this year.

These free trade increase will further increase Costa Rica's international competitiveness.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tourism Facts and Figures

Tourism in Costa Rica is one of the fastest growing economic sectors of the country and as of 1995 became the largest foreign exchange earner.

Since 1999, tourism earns more foreign exchange than bananas, pineapples and coffee combined.

The tourism boom began in 1987,with the number of visitors up from 329,000 in 1988, through 1.03 million in 1999, to 2.09 million foreign visitors in 2008, allowing the country to earn $2.14 billion in that year.

In 2008, tourism contributed with 7.2% of the country's GDP, 22.7% of foreign exchange generated by all exports, and in 2005 it was responsible for 13.3% of direct and indirect employment.

Since the late 1980s Costa Rica became a popular nature travel destination, with a well established system of Natural Parks and Reserves covering around 25% of the country's land area, the largest in the world as a percentage of the country's territory!

Costa Rica is home to 5% of the world's biodiversity despite covering only 0.03% of the world's landmass

With a US$2-billion-a-year tourism industry, Costa Rica stands as the most visited nation in the Central American region, with 1.974 million foreign visitors in 2007.

As a result of the current global economic crises visitors began falling since August 2008, as the number of U.S. citizens visiting the country shrank, and this market segment represents 54% of all foreign tourists visiting Costa Rica. Between December 2008 and May 2009, which includes the high season, tourists arrivals felt by 12 percent.

In terms of 2009 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), Costa Rica ranked 42nd in the world ranking, remaining as the most competitive among Latin American Countries n countries since 2008, and ranking second if the Caribbean is included.

In 2008 most vistors came from the United States (38.6%), neighboring Nicaragua (21.8%), and Canada (5.2%). Tourist revenues from North America and European countries, which together made up 60% of all visitors, contributed to achieve a relatively high expenditure per tourist of $1000 per visitor, both in 2007 and 2008.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Costa Rican Traditional Cuisine

Some eat to survive but in Costa Rica, eating is a culinary pleasure to be enjoyed. Fast food culture is not pervasive and Costa Rican cuisine is natural, traditional and, best of all, delicious.

Most Costa Rican cuisine is not spicy allowing the natural flavors of the food shine through.

Home style cooking is predominant and food is modestly priced. Gallo Pinto, is the national dish of black beans and fried rice is as typical as is the hamburger in North America, and is generally eaten as a breakfast basic.

The most traditional food is Casado, which adds tomato salad, plantain, cabbage and meat to the staple ingredients of rice and beans. Casodo has developed from gallo, which is a kind of rice and beans additionally with cabbage and tomato salad, meat and fried plantains. In this typical dish vegetables do not form a large part of the diet. Traditional Costa Rica food basics includes chicken, beef and fish. Steaks and beef are moderately inexpensive, but don't assume your steak will compete with its North American counterpart.

The Costa Rican cuisine is expert too in seafood. Costa Rica's beaches and coastal towns are especially good for fresh seafood. Sea bass (Corvado), Red Snapper (Pargo) and Dorado (Mahimahi) are always very tasty. Unfortunately, much of the shellfish like lobster and shrimp is exported and if you do find some, it won't be cheap. In the eastern province of Limon there is a distinctly Caribbean flavor to all the food. Jamaican classics like jerk chicken and rice with peas are widely available.

Costa Rican desserts are a special treat. Try the flan for traditional dessert and the dulce de leche if you really have a sweet tooth.

A range of delicious deserts are traditional and include:
arroz con leche - rice pudding,
cono capuchino—an ice-cream cone topped with chocolate
dulce de leche—a syrup of boiled milk and sugar. Also thicker, fudgelike cajeta—delicious!
flan—cold caramel custard
miel de chiverre- sweet white spghetti squash
mazamorra—corn starch pudding
melcocha—candy made from raw sugar
milanes—chocolate candies
pan de maiz—corn sweet bread
queque seco—pound cake
torta chilena—multilayered cake filled with dulce de leche (you need an extra sweet tooth for this one)
suspiros- meringues.

Of course Costa Rica produces some of the finest coffee in the world! And coffee is ranked as one of the three largest export businesses for Costa Rica. A large cup of delicious cost Rican coffee – what a great start to any day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Costa Rica improves it's global competitiveness

Costa Rica has improved its position in the Global Competitiveness report by 4 places.

The Global Competitiveness Report’s competitiveness ranking is based on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), developed for the World Economic Forum by Sala-i-Martin and introduced in 2004.

The GCI is based on 12 measures competitiveness, providing a comprehensive assessment of the competitiveness landscape in countries around the world at all stages of development.

The 12 measures are:
  • Institutions,
  • Infrastructure,
  • Macroeconomic Stability,
  • Health and Primary Education,
  • Higher Education and Training,
  • Goods Market Efficiency,
  • abour Market Efficiency,
  • Financial Market Sophistication,
  • Technological Readiness,
  • Market Size,
  • Business Sophistication,
  • Innovation.

Costa Rica ranks 55th worldwide and ranks second only to Chile in Central and Southern America beating its, perhaps better known, neighbour Panama by 8 places.

Another chance to attend the webinar

Due to popular demand another webinar "Costa Rica - a good investment opportunity?" has been scheduled for Wednesday the 16th of September, from 1:00 - 2:00pm EDT (6:00pm-7:00pm GMT).

James Cahill will again talk about Costa Rica, land, timber (and specifically teak) and he will touch upon Finca Di Pacifico Dos, their current project.

After the presentation, James will take questions..... this was the most popular part of the last webinar with the Q & A running to 55 minutes.

But the best part of the webinar is that you can listen in and ask questions from the comfort of your own home or office.

Space is limited.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System RequirementsPC-based attendeesRequired: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista

Macintosh®-based attendeesRequired: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer

Costa Rica Seeks to Improve its International Competitiveness

La Nacion Newspaper reports that corporations that require bringing foreign executives and technicians to work in Costa Rica will be able to make immigration procedures quickly through the Internet.

Through a pilot program of the Ministry for Competitiveness and the Costa Rica Immigration Office, intends that applications for residence permit for these workers to be processed in 10 days.

The Pilot Project will start on Tuesday with participation of four companies: Intel, T Menos Costa Rica, Ericsson and Surf Factory.

The initiative unveiled yesterday Jorge Woodbridge, Minister of Competitiveness, and Mario Zamora, director of the Immigration Office.

To make the online transactions interested companies need to register and subsequently include the data and documents of workers who they want come to reside here. Once immigration officials to analyze the roles and approve the residency cards will be sent by courier to the respective companies.

Although the pilot starts with four companies, and there are 58 companies registered to use the system, said Zamora.

The head of Immigration said the unit daily receives about five requests for multinationals to bring in workers from other countries.

Alejandro Rodriguez, a lawyer representing T Menos (banking software company), Ericsson and Surf Factory, said the digital system will allow companies to save time and money on immigration proceedings.

Woodbridge said this is an additional step by the government to “eliminate unnecessary an bureaucratic procedures”.

“For businesses, time is money and this step will improve Costa Rica’s competitiveness,” he added

Sunday, September 6, 2009

No 1. Pineapple Producer Worldwide - Costa Rica

The next time you're eating a pineapple tart, drinking fresh or concentrated pineapple juice and biting into a fresh juicy fresh pineapple, you know it's sweet, healthy and juicy…but do you know where ti comes from? Or where is the best place to cultivate it? The answer is likley to be: Costa Rica.

Why Costa Rica? Here in Costa Rica, the warm climate and fertile soils are suitable for agricultural production. Water is abundant with yearly rainfall averages of up to 4 meters and irrigation has been successfully implemented to develop more arid regions. The government supports growers through research, training, and technical assistance, a wide range of nontraditional products have appeared since the 1980s that have begun a revival in agricultural exports.

Ten years ago, Costa Rica's pineapples were grown mainly for home consumption; now Costa Rica has rocketed to be the world's number-one producer of fresh pineapples, knocking the Ivory Coast back into second place.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Costa Rica’s fresh pineapple exports to the U.S. increased from $80 million in 2004 to $372 million in 2007. The U.S. accounted for 52% of Costa Rica’s1.8 million metric tons of pineapple exports in 2005, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Most pineapple industry leaders say that growth is expected to continue.

European demand for Costa Rica fruit has been growing rapidly, and current stats show the European market takes about 55% of Costa Rican pineapples compared with 45% for the U.S. Acreage under cultivation appears to be up between 15% and 20% in 2007, and another 10% to 15% increase is expected in 2008. While the industry may consolidate, production is expected to continue to trend upward in the foreseeable future.

Slower economic growth in the U.S., a renewed emphasis in Costa Rica agricultural policy on production of corn and beans and environmental pressures and possible new regulations on pineapple growers are factors that may slow acreage growth.

Despite the economic challenges, Del Monte — the largest pineapple producer and exporter in Costa Rica — is well-positioned for future growth in demand for the Del Monte Gold variety. Del Monte has also invested heavily in the production of organic pineapples in Costa Rica.

The Costa Rica pineapple is scrumptiously sweet and deliciously juicy. The very low acid content makes room for its very high sugar content. Its tender bright yellow flesh is encased by its attractive very yellow shell.

Not only rich in taste, it's rich in color and its characteristic fresh tropical aroma which adds to the culinary experience. Full of fiber, vitamin C, iron and calcium, Costa Rica’s pineapples are available all year round and remain the most popular of all the tropical fruits. Next time, when you come to Costa Rica don'f forget to taste the pineapples

Peter Zhang August 09

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Changes in the Costa Rican Residency laws

Costa Rican Congress has just approved a law changing the country's immigration policy and the new law is expected to take effect in early 2010.

Costa Rica is by far the most popular Central American country for Americans to buy a second home or to make the move and live there full time. Many in the latter group chose to become permanent legal residents of the country. The process for doing so is relatively simple although red tape often causes delays.

Already, 1% of the population of Costa Rica are North American retirees and expatriates and with the impending retirement of up to 100 million "baby boomers" over the coming years, that number looks sure to rise.

The new law increases the monthly income aspiring residents must prove to be given residency status.

Pensionado (pensioner/retiree) category: previously you had to prove just $600 a month in pension income, from either the U.S. government or a private source. When the new law comes into effect, you'll need to prove $1000/month in retirement income.

Rentista (small investor) category: previously it was necessary to prove a monthly income of $1000, guaranteed by a banking institution. When the new law comes into effect, the proven monthly income increase to $2,500.

Costa Rica's Space Program

Born in San José, Costa Rica, with a father of Chinese descent Franklin Chang-Diaz graduated at La Salle school and received his PHD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From there Franklin has progressed to astronaut and he has received the Liberty from
President Ronald Reagan.

But this is no easily won fairy tale. Franklin never wanted to be anything but an astronaut. So when he was a young Costa Rican school goer, he wrote NASA, asking how he could join the space corps.

The reply was devastating - he couldn't, the response said. Only Americans were accepted.

For a boy from Costa Rica, being an astronaut must have seemed like a pipe dream. But despite long odds, Franklin Chang-Diaz made the cut. He didn't give up. Instead, he decided to move to the United States.

After he moved to the US and finished the high school education there, earning a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the university of Connecticut in 1973, and a Sc.D. degree in applied Plasma Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1977, for his graduate research at MIT.

He worked in the field of fusion technology and plasma-based rocket propulsion and was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980 and first flew aboard STS-61-C in 1986. Subsequent missions included STS-34 (1989), STS-46 (1992), STS-60 (1994), STS-75 (1996), STS-91 (1998), and STS-111 (2002). During STS-111, he performed three EVAs (space walks) with Philippe Perrin as part of the construction of the International Space Station. He was also director of the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center from 1993 to 2005. Franklin Chang-Diaz retired from NASA in 2005.

Chang-Diaz is now an adjunct professor of physics at Rice University and at the University of Houston and he has designed the Variable Specific Impulse Magneto plasma Rocket (VASIMR) for spacecraft propulsion, which is currently in development by his company, Ad Astra Rocket Company.

As a result of his illustrious career and scientific success, he has been decorated multiple times in Costa Rica and named Honor Citizen by the national legislature. The Costa Rican National High Technology Center (CNAT), among other institutions, is named after him.

Due to the traditional naming structure in Latin America (father's last name, then mother's last name) he is typically referred to as Franklin Chang. His daughter, Sonia Chang-Díaz, is a member of the Massachusetts Senate, representing the second Suffolk district seat.

Life should be like a long journey, but the majority of us are just making a living, but some people like Franklin Chang-Diaz, are making a life.

How easy would it have been for the Costa Rican youth in receipt of the negative answer from NASA to give up on his dream. Even after his move to the USA when other prejudice may have made the journey for this young immigrant from Costa Rica tough - giving up must have seemed an easy option. But giving up is not a part of Franklin Chang-Diaz's makeup.

Franklin Chang- Diaz is a testement to never giving up and his story is not finished yet. We look forward to seeing the progress of his Ad-Astra rocket.