Nature, nature, nature! One of the main reasons for choosing Costa Rica over other study abroad destinations is the pristine bounty of natural splendors unique to the country. Costa Rica's biodiversity, including over 800 bird species and 1400 tree species, makes it the perfect spot for students interested in biology, anthropology, ecology, ornithology, zoology, development, tourism and other such subjects. An estimated 27% of the country is protected land area in which you can find monkeys, sloths, armadillos, tapirs, turtles, quetzals, toucans, caimans, butterflies, flowers and more.
Students and travelers tend to choose Costa Rica over other Central or South American destinations due in part to the country's history of stability. While other nations in the region tend to get a bad rap in the press for their volatile, corrupt systems of government and potentially dangerous links to the drug trade, Costa Rica remains surprisingly calm. Costa Rica doesn't even have a regular standing army. The nation instead chooses to invest in protecting its natural resources in national parks and preserves. Perhaps because Costa Ricans don't tend to live with the same fear of violence or instability some of their neighbors do, the ticos (as Costa Ricans are commonly called) seem to be more relaxed and are noted to be very friendly to visitors.
Due in part to its stability, the CIA World Factbook calls Costa Rica "a Central American success story." Besides wildlife, the country also boasts strong technology and tourism sectors. The nation's well-developed and prosperous tourism industry provides international and intercultural exchange, and it remains a draw for study abroad students as well as travelers. Tourism is big business, and it helps attract investors just as much as adventurers. High levels of literacy and education, coupled with political stability, are two other factors that continue to attract foreign investors to Costa Rica.
As many students are well aware, different languages, people, and cultures are impacting our lives at a critical rate. In the United States, the Latino culture will have the greatest impact. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 27 million Latinos in the United States; this is almost 10% of the entire population. Some estimates claim that in the near future, one out of every six people in the United States will be Latino. These people are consumers with an estimated purchasing power of more than $220 billion. Much of U.S. manufacturing is being relocated to Latin America. Big businesses recognize the importance of their spending and the need to reach a Spanish-speaking audience. In areas like advertising, health services, and media (print, TV, Internet, and radio), there is a need for people with experience in Costa Rica and other parts of Latin America. While English remains the language of business in Asia and Europe, a familiarity with Spanish and Latin American culture is absolutely essential for conducting business or working in this region.