Travel Guide Costa Rica
Are you interested in a unique trip to see the rainforest, sea, volcanoes and a wide variety of different animals? Then colourful Costa Rica is just the place for you. The small country, located in Central America between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, is home to a breathtaking natural paradise. Due to its tremendous biodiversity, its abundance of endemic species and its manifold ecosystems, Costa Rica belongs to the so-called megadiverse countries of Planet Earth. In the following destination information you can learn more about this tropical jewel.
Highlights in Costa Rica
Geography of Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a country in southern Central America. It borders Nicaragua in the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean to the east. In total, Costa Rica has approximately 1300 km of coastline to see.
Costa Rica can be divided into five or six topographical regions. The American Cordillera is a chain of volcanic mountain ranges which runs from North to South almost all the way through the country. The northern segment of the Cordillera is called the Cordillera de Guanacasete. The central segment is known as the Cordillera Central, while the southern segment goes by the name of the Cordillera de Talamanca. Irazú is the country’s highest volcano at 3432 m. Other popular volcanoes include Turrialba, Poás and Arenal. At 3920 m, the country’s highest mountain is Chirripó Grande in the southern Cordillera de Talamanca. The Monteverde nature reserve is located near Lake Arenal, which lies at the base of the Arenal Volcano and is the largest lake in Costa Rica.
The central highlands are known as Valle Central, and are home to the capital San José and the cities of Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago. This area is the seat of the country’s national government and its main economic region, and is also home to 60% of the population.
The Caribbean coast to the east is shaped by enormous banana plantations and meandering river systems. The Pacific Coast to the west is home to tropical rainforest and evergreen rain forests.
The Nicoya Peninsula to the northwest has a relatively dry climate, and is dominated by tropical dry forests, volcanoes and meadowlands.
The southernmost region in Costa Rica is the rainforest and its tropical beaches. This region also contains Costa Rica’s highest mountain pass, Cerro de la Muerte.
In geological terms, Costa Rica is a relatively young country that formed during the subduction of the Cocos plate under the Caribbean plate in the Middle America Trench. As a consequence, various volcanic islands were formed that collided due to a constant plate movement. Nowadays earthquakes can occur due to this plate movement and there are several active volcanoes, of which the Arenal is the youngest in Costa Rica. Its last eruption was in 1968 and it is still growing a few meters every year.
Travel Tipps and Trivia for Costa Rica
Climate in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is located within the tropical zone and its climate varies from the Pacific west coast to the Caribbean east coast. Divided by the Cordillera the climate on the Pacific coast changes from a rainy to a dry season, whereas on the Caribbean coast, rain and humidity may occur during the whole year. The rainy season in western Costa Rica is between May and November.
Flora and Fauna in Costa Rica
Costa Rica's nature is marked by a great biodiversity with numerous palms, creepers, orchids as well as mosses and several colorful bromeliads. The tropical country is also home to about 860 species of birds of which six are endemic. Moreover mammals like sloths, howler monkeys and spider monkeys live in different habitats as well as numerous reptiles and amphibians. In addition to that, also a great variety of butterflies lives in Costa Rica.