You could spend an entire vacation in Costa Rica soaking in the sun on a beautiful beach, but most come here to explore the vast areas of untouched wilderness that make this tiny Central American country one of the most biodiverse in the world.

Costa Rica has transformed itself into a premiere eco-destination by setting aside almost one-quarter of its land as nature reserve, allowing visitors to enjoy animals in their natural setting. And to make sure that these areas are available for future generations, Costa Rica has pioneered sustainable tourism practices that leave minimal impact on its ecosystems.

“We are a very green-oriented country and if we start compromising the goose that laid the golden egg, then we don’t have a lot to fall back on. Costa Rica, unlike Peru or Guatemala, doesn’t have a great history of Indian empires, but we do have a great history of democracy and sustainable practices,” says Jim Damalas, president and CEO of Greentique Hotels, a company that operates four Costa Rican eco-hotels. The hotels adhere to the country’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism program, which recognizes businesses that follow sustainable practices.

Read the rest of the story on The Ottawa Citizen Style Magazine’s website.

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