Geography & Maps

Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus, 10� north of the equator and 84� west of the Prime Meridian. It borders both the Caribbean Sea (to the east) and the North Pacific Ocean (to the west), with a total of 1,290km of coastline (212km on the Caribbean coast and 1016km on the Pacific).

Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua to the north (309km of border) and Panama to the south-southeast (639km of border). In total, Costa Rica comprises 51,100 km,� of which 50,660 km� is land and 440 km� is water, making it slightly smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia.

The nation's terrain is coastal plain separated by rugged mountains in the center of the country. Costa Rica claims an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles and a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles. The country has a tropical and subtropical climate and is part of the Neotropic ecozone. It is part of many ecoregions, including Costa Rican seasonal moist forests, Bocas del Toro-San Bastimentos Island-San Blas mangroves, Mosquitia-Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast mangroves, Southern Dry Pacific Coast mangroves, Central American dry forests, and Talamancan montane forests.

Costa Rica's dry season is from December to April, while the rainy season is from May to November. The highlands areas are cooler. The lowest elevation level in the country is the Pacific Ocean at sea level, the highest point is Cerro Chirripo, a volcanic mountain with an elevation of 3,810m (part of Cerro Chirripo National Park). On a clear day, it is possible to sea both the Caribbean and the Pacific from the peak.

Costa Rica is party to many enviromental treaties, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Environmental Modification, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Montreal Protocol, the Ramsar Convention, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, the Desertification Convention, the Endangered Species Convention, the Basel Convention, the Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Marine Dumping, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It has signed but not ratifed the Convention on Marine Life Conservation and the Kyoto Protocol.

Natural resources: Hydropower

Natural hazards: occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season; active volcanoes

Environment: Currently deforestation, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching; soil erosion; water pollution (rivers); fisheries protection; solid waste management