An eco-tourist's dream, Costa Rica has become synonymous with all an unspoiled tropical paradise can be. Rarely does reality measure up to hype, but Costa Rica certainly comes close. The country's quiet history as a backwater free of colonial excesses has today become a boon, and Costa Rica has cashed in on its purity. And not without merit: blessed with beaches and biodiversity, this is a verdant land of misty volcanoes, roaring rivers, and lush jungles teeming with exotic fauna. Throw in the friendly, educated Ticos (as Costa Ricans are known) and you can see why down here they call it Pura Vida – "pure life."