In direct relationship with the climatic zones, the country of Costa Rica offers a significant variety of plant environments; the flora is also particularly rich because Costa Rica, like the whole Isthmian area, represents the meeting point of species typical of North and South America. Visit fashionissupreme.com for Costa Rica as a tourist country. We thus pass from the rainforest of the flat areas, rich – in particular on the Atlantic side – of tall trees (caoba, mahogany, etc.) with dense undergrowth of lianas and epiphytes, to the sparser woods of the tierras templadas, where the cedars and also some local plants, such as guanacaste; in the tierras frías there are grassy expanses (páramos) and ferns abound. The forests occupy a total of just under half of the territory (46.8%) and host about 500,000 animal species, of which more than half belong to the class of insects, although numerous, and often endemic, are those of birds (such as the harpy eagle) reptiles (including sea turtles, crocodiles and boas), amphibians (especially toads, such as the golden toad), mammals (jaguar, Baird’s tapir, giant anteater, squirrel monkey, Saimiri oerstedi) and fish. The terrestrial fauna is considered at risk due to the phenomenon of deforestation, a widespread practice especially in the past to make way for land dedicated to crops such as coffee, cocoa, bananas, pineapples; the phenomenon of reforestation aimed at the exploitation of timber has also caused a reduction in soil fertility. The Ministry of the Environment and Energy, according to the law of 1998, has delegated to SINAC (Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservación de Costa Rica), structured in a central office and in various territorial units called “conservation areas”, the the task of monitoring environmental, forestry and wildlife policies and managing protected areas. These areas, which cover almost a quarter of the country’s surface, include 20 national parks, biological reserves, wildlife oasis, destination of national and international tourism (22.9% of protected areas). Furthermore, the UNESCO has declared three Costa Rica’s World Heritage Sites: the Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / Parque Internacional de La Amistad (1983, 1990) co-managed with Panama, comprising a large section of rainforest inhabited by 4 indigenous tribes; Cocos Island National Park (1997, 2002), the only island in the eastern Pacific covered with rainforest, a destination for divers interested in observing tuna sharks, dolphins, etc. and the Guanacaste Conservation Area (1999, 2004), a unique marine and terrestrial ecosystem.
Largely mountainous, Costa Rica structurally corresponds to a section of the Isthmian ridge, bordered on both sides by coastal plains, wider to the N, towards Nicaragua. The territory is crossed by a vigorous system of reliefs in which three mountain ranges can be distinguished from N to S: those of Guanacaste and Central, both volcanic, and the Cordillera de Talamanca. The country is of recent formation, having originated in the Cenozoic era, when the entire isthmic region emerged. The inland, mountainous area of Costa Rica is made up of Mesozoic and Cenozoic rocks that emerge in the Cordillera de Talamanca, while elsewhere they are covered by imposing volcanic blankets and dominated by numerous volcanoes, including the Orosí (1487 m), the Rincón de la Vieja (1895 m), the Miravalles (2028 m) and the Tenorio (1920 m) in the Cordillera de Guanacaste, the Poás (2704 m), the Barba (2604 m), the Turrialba (3329 m) and the Irazú (3432 m), one of the most active Central American volcanoes, in the Cordillera Central. However, the country’s highest peaks belong to the non-volcanic Cordillera de Talamanca, where the Chirripó (3819 m), Terbi (3761 m), Blanco (3554 m) and Kámuk (3554 m) mountains rise. On the side facing the Pacific, secondary dorsals also lengthen, forming the backbone of the Peninsula de Nicoya and that of Osa. Between the Cordillera Central and that of Talamanca there is a depression of tectonic origin, the Meseta or Valle Central, a plateau high on average 1000 m which, due to the favorable climatic conditions and the fertility of the soils, has always represented the richest area and populated country, as well as an easy passage between the Caribbean and the Pacific coast. Along the Sea of the Antilles extends a relatively vast plain, formed by floods of the Neozoic and ending with low and straight coasts; the plains of the Pacific side, on the other hand, are much smaller, given the proximity of the mountain ranges to the coast, which is therefore very bumpy (Cabo Santa Elena, Golfo de Papagayo, Peninsula and Golfo de Nicoya, Bahia de Coronado, Península de Osa, Golfo Dulce, etc.); however, the Tempisque plain (or Pampa de Guanacaste) is quite extensive, which separates the Cordillera de Guanacaste from the reliefs of the Peninsula de Nicoya. § The country’s hydrographic system is essentially made up of short rivers (their development averages 100-150 km) but of relatively high flow due to the abundant rainfall; the major waterways are partly navigable. They flow mostly parallel to each other, descending from the opposite mountain slopes to the coastal plains; the San Juan (which for a good stretch marks the border with Nicaragua), enriched by the contribution of the San Carlos, the Reventazón and the Sixaola, which flows on the border with Panama, all contribute to the Sea of the Antilles; the Tempisque and the Río Grande de Tárcoles flow into the Pacific. § Given its position between the 8th and 11th of Lat. N, the country has a hot and humid tropical climate; made by NE trade wind, rainfall is particularly abundant and almost daily on the Atlantic side (Limón, for example, receives over 4000 mm per year), while on the Pacific side, a rainier season (June-November) and a drier (December-May) and the rains are less abundant overall (about 1000 mm per year in Puntarenas). Temperatures, on the other hand, are uniformly high, with annual averages of 26-29 ºC. In inland areas, however, the climate is profoundly conditioned by altitude; between 800 and 1600 m there are the tierras templadas, which record average temperatures between 12 and 22 ºC, with abundant but not excessive rainfall (1500-2000 mm per year) and where the environmental conditions are particularly suitable for human settlement; above 1600 m the tierras frías extend, with average temperatures between 5 and 14 ºC and strong daily temperature variations.