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Undergraduate Research Journal

Abstract

The Costa Rica Tourism Board’s website is covered with pictures of the beautiful landscapes Costa Rica is known for. It advertises activities such as horseback riding, hiking in forests, and guided bird watching tours under the impressive “eco-tourism” section of its website (“Essential Costa Rica”). Costa Rica is often considered a “successful” Latin American country, with relatively low levels of poverty and violence, a high GDP, and one of the highest Human Development Indexes (HDI) in Latin America. Costa Rica currently has a booming eco-tourism industry important to the Costa Rican economy. The environment in Costa Rica is not only a source of beauty and “pura vida,” but is also a large part of the Costa Rican economy due to industries like tourism, pharmaceuticals, and prospecting (Allebon-Web et al. 2013, 42).

Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity makes it an optimal place for eco-tourism. In fact, Costa Rica is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity despite occupying only 0.0035% of the earth’s surface (Honey 2008, 160). Tourists are attracted to Costa Rica’s volcanoes, waterfalls, hiking trails, beaches, and many different kinds of animals. In addition, Costa Rica is seen as a generally safe country for tourists. Costa Rica also has a comprehensive legal framework for environmental protection. For these reasons, Costa Rica is seen as the “poster child” for effective environmental infrastructure, with strong economic incentives to keep it going (Honey 2008, 160-61).

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