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Bordered to the north by Nicaragua ...

Travel, Vacation and Adventure Guide to Costa Rica

The Art of Biography, Is different from Geography. Geography is about Maps, But Biography is about Chaps. ~ Edmund Clerihew Bentley, 1875-1956

Bordered to the north by Nicaragua and to the south by Panama, Costa Rica is squeezed into 51,100 square km (19,730 square miles) between the Caribbean/Atlantic Ocean to the east and the mighty Pacific to the west. This figure includes the small but important offshore island, Isla del Coco (25 square km), made famous as the story location for the Jurassic Park movies. The protected island national park is a favorite dive and nature tour spot, but only for the dedicated – it lies at about 5°30’ latitude north and 87°05’ longitude west, 535 km (335 miles) from Cabo Blanco in the Pacific Ocean.

Costa Rica is a little smaller than the state of West Virginia, and in Central America only El Salvador and Belize are smaller. More than half of the country’s’s 3.6 million inhabitants live in the Central Valley, or Meseta Central. San José is the capital. It’s lively, colonial, disarming, crowded, charming, shabby, demanding, easy-going, difficult, parochial, modern and fast-paced – all at one time! It’s also home to the government and a fairly large percentage of the population. San José lies nestled in a 1,178-meter/3,875-foot hollow surrounded by mountain peaks.

Costa Rica is divided into seven geo-political provinces: Guanacaste and Alajuela make up the country’s northwest corner; Puntarenas hugs most of the Pacific shore; San José and Cartago form the heartland; Heredia runs north from San José to the Nicaraguan border; and Limón occupies the entire Atlantic coastline, sharing the southern half of the country with Puntarenas.

Although not a large country, Costa Rica’s topography provides a divergence of air currents, affecting precipitation. A dry tropical clime distinguishes its northwest corner – in the province of Guanacaste and on the Nicoya Peninsula – and a tropical rainforest covers the south. The northwest attracts visitors drawn to the sunny Pacific beaches. Along the southern Pacific and all of the Caribbean coastline the climate is humid and tropical, with many areas measuring their annual rainfall in meters. Inland and down to the shore itself, the rainforest reigns supreme.

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