Costa Rica is an Eco-tourist's paradise. The country holds some of the most beautiful rainforests and rivers in the entire world. The lush habitat of Costa Rica also supports some of the most expansive and diverse flora and fauna in the world. The area of Costa Rica contains over 1000 species of trees, 8000 species of flowering plants, 200 species of mammal, including the beautiful but elusive jaguar, and over 800 bird species, nearly one-tenth of the world's total species of birds (Burnie 25).
Tourism is Costa Rica's number one industry. Last year, tourism brought in over 600 million dollars, which represents about 30% of Costa Rica's foreign earnings ("Re-evaluating” 21). Seventy-six percent of all tourists visit Costa Rica's National parks, and the number of tourists visiting annually is increasing each year (Burnie 25). Though revenues from tourism are increasing, many problems plague Costa Rica's environment, and inevitably the economy.
Costa Rica is currently rivaling Brazil for the highest deforestation rate (Frommer 24). Seventy-five years ago, three fourths of Costa Rica was covered by forest. Today, only twenty percent of the nation retains its original forest cover (Dreshner 23). Along with habitat destruction comes extinction. According to the World Reasources Institute's report, Costa Rica is home to thirteen endangered birds, nine endangered mammals, and two endangered reptiles. All of these animals are harmed by habitat loss, or the increase of foreign species that follow dramatic changes in the countryside (Rachoweiki 26). Deforestation also causes erosion, which turns clear waters brown with the addition of mud and silt. Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful rivers in the world. In fact, the Rio Pacuare is called by three rafting magazines, "The fifth most beautiful river in the world” (Buckner 2). Without its clear waters, the Rio Pacuare will not be able hold that status.