The tropical paradise of Costa Rica is surrounded by two oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific, and is framed on both sides by unique beaches. Here you can find many secluded bays where the palm trees bend over the warm sand and the sun reflects on the turquoise blue sea. The spectacular landscape offers an incredible diversity from vast lowlands and plateaus where coffee, bananas, sugarcane and pineapples are grown, to impressive mountain ranges with active volcanoes, crystal clear rivers and waterfalls. Tropical forests in all their facets, rain forests, dry forests and cloud forests are waiting to be explored. Costa Rica is a peaceful country with happy traditions, a diverse culture and friendly people. It’s time to discover!
Costa Rica is located in southern Central America bordering Panama to the southeast and Nicaragua to the north. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east, and the Caribbean Sea to the west (near the Pacific Ocean). At the narrowest point, the distance between the two oceans is only about 100 kilometers. The country’s highest elevation is Chiripó which is located in the “Cordillera de Talamanca” and is 3,820 meters above sea level. Two other mountain ranges, the “Cordillera de Guanacaste” and the “Cordillera Central” have numerous volcanoes with the highest, Volcan Irazú, reaching a height of 3,432 meters. Costa Rica is divided into seven provinces: the coastal provinces of Guanacaste, Limón and Puntarenas and the mountainous provinces of Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia and San Jose. Costa Rica has a number of small islands including La Noita in the Caribbean Sea, Chira, Isla del Caño and Isla del Coco in the Pacific.
There are three general climate zones of Costa Rica, the tropical lowlands on both coasts (up to 600 meters), the plateau in the interior (Meseta Central) which is 800-1,600 meters and the high mountains reaching 3.820 meters. The lowlands on the Caribbean coast are tropical, hot and humid with an annual average temperature around 28°C. The months of July and December are climatically the most demanding with higher rainfalls. The areas along the Pacific coast are hot and mostly dry from November to around May. In the other months, heavy rain showers (usually in the early afternoon) are expected. The temperatures here, similar to those on the Caribbean coast, are around 27 to 34°C. The Meseta Central plateau has a subtropical climate with average temperatures of 20°C, which is pleasant even on hot days thanks to a constantly blowing breeze. In the high mountains above 1,600 meters the average temperature is 12°C. In San José, the country’s capital, the dry season begins in December, with the hottest months being March to June. The rainy season usually lasts from May to November and is generally around 80 percent. In San José, the average humidity in the morning is around 86 percent and falls to about 68 percent around noon.
Typically the rainy season is from May to November and the dry season is from December to April on the Pacific side. In the Caribbean regions, it is rather dry in September and October and rainy in December, January, June and July. The rest of the months are a Caribbean fickle. Expect to get wet more often, especially in the rainy season, and wear good rain gear. A good umbrella that fits in your hand luggage is highly recommended and ponchos that cover the backpack have proven their worth. Normally it only rains in the afternoon but from time to time it may rain all day which is common in a subtropical climate. You can find more information about the climate under Travel time Costa Rica.
It is considered certain that the first people settled on the Nicoya peninsula as early as 9000 BC. However, the country’s population density was very low until it was colonized as Costa Rica mainly served as a “land of transit” to South America. In 1502, Columbus discovered the coast of Costa Rica on his fourth voyage. Around 1560 the Spaniards conquered the country and began to settle the Valle Central. In 1821, Costa Rica broke away peacefully from Spain who no longer had interest in the country. For a short time, Costa Rica was part of the Central American Federation (together with El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua) before it declared its state sovereignty on November 14, 1838. In the following years, Costa Rica developed into a state, mainly under American influence. Large banana plantations spread out where small and medium-sized farmers once lived and worked. After turmoils such as the civil war of 1948, Costa Rica is a well-functioning democracy.