Costa Rica Map – Where is Costa Rica?
Although many people mistakenly think that Costa Rica is a country located at the southern end of Central America. From a Spanish term that literally translates as “Rich Coast,” Costa Rica is located between Panama to the southeast and Nicaragua to the north. Costa Rica has two long coastlines, to the east lies the Caribbean Sea and to the west is the Pacific Ocean.
Costa Rica is a relatively large country in Central America with a landmass of 19,700 square miles (51,000 square kilometers) along with 277 square miles (717 kilometers) of offshore waters. With a very diverse topology, Costa Rica’s highest point is Cerro Chirripo at 12,530 feet (3,819 meters). Costa Rica is also home to several volcanos, the tallest of which is Irazu at 11,257 feet (3,431 meters). The biggest lake in the country is Lake Arenal (Sandy Lake) with a surface area of 33 square miles (85 square km) and a depth of 200 feet (61 meters).
On a map, Costa Rica can be found between 9 and 10 degrees north in the band known as the Tropics. The population is approximately 4.8 million with approximately 300,000 of which reside in and around the capital of San Jose.
Costa Rica is one of the most diverse regions in the world, containing 5% of all animal and plant species on the planet. Costa Rica is home to more than 500,000 recorded species, including 300,000 insects, 175 amphibian species, 225 reptile species, 250 species of mammals, and 900 species of birds. Many visitors to Costa Rica come to the country precisely to enjoy the exotic wildlife and abundant natural diversity.
Costa Rica Climate
Officially, Costa Rica enjoys a tropical climate with balmy temperatures year-round, although there are significant differences between different elevations. Generally speaking, coastal areas usually experience higher humidity and temperatures while alpine areas experience lower humidity and temperatures.
Unlike in North America, there are only two seasons in Costa Rica: the green season and the dry season. The dry season corresponds to the high tourist season with more crowding while the green season corresponds to the low tourist season, a time of reduced rates on accommodations, transportation, and organized tours.
Costa Rica Geology
It is precisely the interplay between volcanoes, lowlands, coastal tidal patterns, mountains, and valleys that have created a beautiful natural paradise that has made Costa Rica famous. The different ecological niches created by geological forces are key to Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity.
Tectonic Plates in Costa Rica
Geologists have always been fascinated by Costa Rica due to its location at the intersection of five different tectonic plates: North America, South America, Caribbean, Cocos, and Pacific. Tectonic plates function much like gigantic conveyor belts, slowly maintaining the continents in constant motion. Because of its location, Costa Rica is predisposed to earthquake activity.
Volcanoes in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is home to dozens of volcanoes, including active volcanos. The different tectonic plates are responsible for pushing up the mountain ranges in the country while enormous subterranean pressure from the earth’s core creates pressure that is relieved in the form of volcanoes, an outlet for magma to rise to the Earth’s surface.
Perhaps the most famous active volcano in Costa Rica is Poas Volcano. The last eruption of Poas was in 1910, but visitors today can see regular outpouring of steam and ash. Other active volcanoes in Costa Rica include Arenal in the north, Rincon de la Vieja and Tenorio in the northwest, and Irazu and Turrialba in the central part of the country.
Costa Rica Mountains
Costa Rica is home to five major mountain ranges: Tilaran, Talamanca, Guanacaste, Cerros de Escazu, and the Cordillera Central. The Arenal Volcano is located in the Tilaran Range, and Cerro Chirripo is located in the Cordillera Talamanca.
Ancient Rocks in Costa Rica
One of the fascinating aspects of Costa Rica is the number of ancient rocks that can be found in the country, including ophiolites that once formed the seabed of ancient oceans more than 180 million years ago. Ophiolites are commonly found in the Puntarenas and Guanacaste regions. Areas of Costa Rica’s central valley are also littered with oceanic sedimentary rocks especially around Cerro Chirripo, the tallest peak in the country.
Costa Rica Time Zone
One of the reasons why Costa Rica is such a popular destination for visitors from North America is that it is located directly south of the United States meaning there is never any jet lag to deal with.
It is important to remember that Costa Rica does not adjust its clocks for daylight savings. During the winter, Costa Rica shares the same time zone as Central Time (CST) in the United States, and during the winter, Costa Rica observes the equivalent of the Mountain Time Zone.
Due to its location near the equator, Costa Rica has no need to adjust its clocks. Days and nights are both approximately 12 hours long all year long.