Costa Rica

Driving Directions Costa Rica

COSTA RICA is a small country bounded by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the south and west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Three mountain ranges, including some active volcanoes, form the backbone of the land. About half the popula­tion concentrated on the Meseta Central, a fertile plateau on the country’s west­ern side, which was first settled by the Spanish in the 16th century.

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The climate is tropical with a small temperature range and abundant rain. The dry season is from December to April. The upland areas have rich volcanic soils, which are good for coffee growing, and the slopes provide lush pastures for cattle. Coffee and bananas are grown commercially and are the country’s major agricultural exports.

Costa Rica’s mountainous terrain provides beautiful scenery for its growing tourist industry and enough hydroelectric power to makes it almost self-sufficient in electricity.

The country has a high literacy rate (around 92 percent) and a culture which reflects its Spanish heritage.

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The landscape of Costa Rica varies from seasonally snow-capped mountains to seasonal marshlands to lush rain forests. The central highlands extend from northwest to southeast. The Atlantic and Pacific coastal lowlands are low, swampy, and heavily forested.

Costa Rica is bordered on the east by the Pacific Ocean and the west by the Caribbean Sea. The country sits at the boundary where the Cocos Plate in the Pacific – a piece of Earth’s crust about 510 kilometers (316 miles) wide – meets the Caribbean Sea’s tectonic plate. The Cocos Plate moves east at about 10 centimeters (4 inches) per year, causing occasional earthquakes in the country.

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Cloud forests – lush forests at high elevations where the heavy mist and clouds almost always hang in the air – occur on Costa Rica’s mountaintops. Monte Verde Biological Cloud Forest Preserve covers twenty-six thousand acres of forest and houses two thousand plant species, four hundred bird species, and one hundred different animal species.

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