Topography and Climate

No, it's not an island although there are several islands within its territory. The tropical mountainous nation of Costa Rica is situated in Central America with a land mass of 19,730 square miles making it close to the size of West Virginia or Greece. Costa Rica shares boarders with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Beach lovers can enjoy the Pacific Ocean on the west coast and the Caribbean on the east.

Translating to "Rich Coast," Costa Rica's volcanic soil is ideal for yielding bananas, pineapples and coffee; the country's three main cash crops. Volcanic soil means volcanoes, and Costa Rica has many that are active. The dramatic appearance and beauty of Costa Rica's volcanoes such as Arenal, Poas and Irazu provide another reason that Costa Rica is the most visited nation in the Central American region.

Equally famous are Costa Rica's lush tropical rainforests, mountains reaching 12,500 feet, waterfalls, beaches, deep sea fishing and diversity of ecosystems. In fact, more than 5% of the entire world's biodiversity is within Costa Rica's boarders. With all that nature offers in Costa Rica, it's no wonder that tourism brings in more foreign dollars than do its bananas, coffee and pineapples. Being conscious to safeguard its unique environment Costa Rica holds more than 26% of its land under protection.

Microclimates are another unique attribute of Costa Rica. This means that the climates of Costa Rica's regions can vary dramatically within a short distance, often depending on elevation. While you're not likely to experience snow in Costa Rica, finding ice an hour's journey from a jungle is a reality here.

There are two seasons in Costa Rica: the rainy season or "winter" (May - November) and the dry the dry season locally known as "summer" (December - April). During the dry season, Costa Rica enjoys over 12 hours of sunshine a day. Sunrises occurs around 5 am and sets around 6 pm consistently throughout the year. During the rainy season, rain showers often occur in the afternoon lasting a few hours. The average rainfall in Costa Rica is 100 inches/yr depending on the microclimate.

Average annual temperatures for Costa Rica are around 21 to 27 degrees Celsius (or 70 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit). The coolest months of the year are November, December and January, while March through May is the hottest.

Depending on the specific location, Costa Rica contends with some of the most infamous forces nature can bring to bear: earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding and volcanic activity.