THE AREA | Geography
Costa Rica boasts a tumultuous geographical past which is reflected in a lesser scale in its present. The variety of landscapes includes ample coastlines, mountain ridges, rivers and volcanoes, all of them compressed in an area which is approximately the size of West Virginia. Numerous ecosystems and micro-climates are the result of this incredible diversity.
The total area of Costa Rica is 19,653 square miles. From all the cardinal points, North to South and East to West, the longest distance is only 200 miles. The area is double the size of El Salvador, but the population is half, at 3.5 million people. Therefore, the only region where overpopulation is felt is in the Central Valley, where the capital city of San José is located.
There are five main geographical areas in the country: Tropical Lowlands (Pacific and Caribbean Coasts), the North Central Plains, the Central Valley and the Northwest Peninsula. The governmental divisions, however, include seven provinces: Guanacaste, Alajuela, Heredia, Limón, Cartago, San José and Puntarenas. Both the geographical divisions and the political ones display different climates and different formations. However, most of them include at least the following geological phenomena: rivers, mountains, valleys and volcanoes.