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Six images from the travel photography archives at www.timbirdphotography.com

One of the best things about Costa Rica in Central America is that it doesn’t have an army. It has a surprisingly good football team, though, and they’ve just sealed the fate of my national team, England, by beating Italy. Thank you, Costa Rica, for getting the pain out of the way sooner rather than later.

Costa Rica has a lot more going for it than just a decent football team. The abundant concentration of wildlife in a relatively small area and the ease with which visitors can witness it are unequalled pretty much anywhere. It has Caribbean and Pacific shores, clean sandy beaches, surf, cool cloud forests, clammy jungles, volcanoes and friendly, easy-going people, known as Ticos, whose motto – Pura vida! – meaning literally “pure life” but is used as an all-round greeting and positive exclamation, sums up a smiling and gently upbeat fatalism.

Here is a pictorial tribute in six visual highlights:

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Three-toed sloth in the Manuel Antonio National Park on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. These astonishing tree-dwelling creatures sleep between 15 and 20 hours a day and have extra vertebrae in their necks, so they can turn their heads more than 250 degrees.

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Humming bird on the edge of the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Fifty-four species of humming bird have been identified in Costa Rica.

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The “Iguana Tree” near Fortuna is just off the main road and provides guaranteed sightings of these fabulous reptiles.

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Pura Vida! The friendly face of Costa Rica – a cheerful Tico.

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The active Arenal volcano and surrounding countryside.

ImageA red-eyed tree frog at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

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