Costa Rica is located on the Central American Isthmus, surrounding the point 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 1,290 km of coastline (212 km on the Caribbean coast and 1,016 km on the Pacific).
Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica, is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. It has a population of around 5 million in a land area of 51,060 square kilometers. An estimated 333,980 people live in the capital and largest city, San José with around 2 million people in the surrounding metropolitan area.
An equator of a rotating spheroid is its zeroth circle of latitude (parallel). It is the imaginary line on the spheroid, equidistant from its poles, dividing it into northern and southern hemispheres. In other words, it is the intersection of the spheroid with the plane perpendicular to its axis of rotation and midway between its geographical poles.
A prime meridian is a meridian in a geographic coordinate system at which longitude is defined to be 0°. Together, a prime meridian and its anti-meridian form a great circle. This great circle divides a spheroid, e.g., Earth, into two hemispheres. If one uses directions of East and West from a defined prime meridian, then they can be called the Eastern Hemisphere and the Western Hemisphere.
Costa Rica shares a border with Nicaragua to the north (313 km long border) and with Panama to the south (348 km long border). The area of Costa Rica is 51,100 km² of which 51,060 km² is land and 40 km² is water, making it slightly smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia.
Nicaragua, officially the Republic of Nicaragua, is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Managua is the country's capital and largest city and is also the third-largest city in Central America, behind Tegucigalpa and Guatemala City. The multi-ethnic population of six million includes people of indigenous, European, African, and Asian heritage. The main language is Spanish. Indigenous tribes on the Mosquito Coast speak their own languages and English.
Panama, officially the Republic of Panama, is a country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half the country's 4 million people.
In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.
The nation's terrain is a coastal plain separated by rugged mountains, the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera de Talamanca, which form the spine of the country and separate the Pacific and Caribbean watersheds. Costa Rica claims an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical mile s (370.4 km; 230.2 mi) and a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles (22.2 km; 13.8 mi).
Terrain or relief involves the vertical and horizontal dimensions of land surface. The term bathymetry is used to describe underwater relief, while hypsometry studies terrain relative to sea level. The Latin word terra means "earth."
The Cordillera Central is a volcanic mountain range in central Costa Rica which continues from the Continental Divide to east of Cordillera de Tilarán. It extends 80 km from Tapezco Pass to the Turrialba Volcano and ending on the Pacuare River. It is separated from Cordillera de Tilarán by Balsa River and Platanar and Zarcero hills. The Cordillera Central is part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica.
The Cordillera de Talamanca is a mountain range that lies on the southeast half of Costa Rica and the far west of Panama. Much of the range and the area around it is included in the La Amistad International Park, which also is shared between the two countries.
The spine of the country produces many major river systems. Rivers draining into the Caribbean include:
The Colorado River, or the Rio Colorado, in Costa Rica is a distributary of the San Juan River which flows 96 kilometres (60 mi) towards the Caribbean in the northern parts of Heredia and Limón Provinces. The surrounding habitats are protected as part of the second largest rain forest preserve in the country, the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge.
The Pacuare River, or the Río Pacuare, flows approximately 108 kilometres (67 mi) to the Caribbean. It is a popular location for white water rafting, whitewater kayaking and riverboarding. The rainforests that surround the river are home to exotic animal species such as jaguars, monkeys, ocelots, and a very large number of birds. Also it was considered one of the 5 nicest rivers to practice rafting.
The Reventazón River or Rio Reventazón, is a river in Costa Rica which forms part of the Reventazón-Parismina drainage basin, it is 145 kilometres (90 mi) long and flows into the Caribbean sea. It starts at the base of the Irazú Volcano, passing through the east side of the Central Valley, and flows through the Orosí and Turrialba Valleys. After reaching the Caribbean coastal plains it joins the Parismina River and forms what is called the Reventazón-Parismina.
Rivers draining into the Lake Nicaragua or the San Juan River (Rio San Juan), whose waters eventually drains into the Caribbean, include:
Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca or Granada is a freshwater lake in Nicaragua. Of tectonic origin and with an area of 8,264 km2 (3,191 sq mi), it is the largest lake in Central America, the 19th largest lake in the world and the tenth largest in the Americas, slightly smaller than Lake Titicaca. With an elevation of 32.7 metres (107 ft) above sea level, the lake reaches a depth of 26 metres (85 ft). It is intermittently joined by the Tipitapa River to Lake Managua.
The San Juan River, also known as El Desaguadero, is a 192-kilometre (119 mi) river that flows east out of Lake Nicaragua into the Caribbean Sea. A large section of the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica runs on the southern bank of the river. It was part, with the lake, of a proposed route for a Nicaragua Canal in the 19th century. The idea of the project has been revived in the last decade, including the possibility of other routes within the country. The Ecocanal project has obtained a Concession from the National Assembly of Nicaragua to re-open the San Juan River to commercial barge traffic.
Sapoá River is a river of Costa Rica. With headwaters in the Guanacaste National Park, it flows north and crosses into Nicaragua. It empties into Lake Nicaragua.
Frío River is a river of Costa Rica, Alajuela province. The last few kilometers it passes through Nicaragua.
The San Carlos River is a river in the Alajuela Province of Costa Rica that drains into the San Juan River and thus into the Caribbean Sea. Its basin covers an area of about 3,100 km2. The river has a length of 142 km of which about 60 km allow navigation. The river originates from the confluence of the Jabillos River and Peje River both originating on the eastern side of the Cordillera de Tilarán and traverses the San Carlos Canton. It meets the San Juan River close to Boca San Carlos.
Rivers draining into the Pacific Ocean include:
In the eastern half of the country, the San Juan River forms the northern border with Nicaragua.
The Tilaran Range is part of the Continental Divide east of Lake Arenal and the nearby active volcano Arenal, and running into the Cordillera Central range further east. It is located in the Abangares district of the province of Guanacaste.
At the edge of the range is the Monteverde cloud forest preserve, a major ecotourism destination.
The Central Range continues the Continental Divide east of Cordillera de Tilarán. It has four large volcanoes: Poás, Barva, Irazú and Turrialba. The highest peak is Irazú at 3,432 m.
The Guanacaste Range is in northern Costa Rica near the border with Nicaragua. The range forms part of the southern region of the Continental Divide, the highest peak being the extinct stratovolcano Miravalles at 2,028 m. Peaks include:
Much of the Talamanca Range is included in the La Amistad International Park, which is shared between Costa Rica and Panama. The country's highest peaks lie in this mountain range: the Cerro Chirripó and the Cerro Kamuk. Much of the region is covered by the forest.
The Cerros de Escazú borders the Central Valley to the south and is considered the northernmost portion of the Cordillera de Talamanca.
Costa Rica's climate is mostly tropical and subtropical.
Like all Central American countries, Costa Rica is considered a biodiversity hotspot. According to the INBio, about 4.5% of the world's biodiversity can be found in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is home to about 12,119 species of plants, of which 950 are endemic.There are 117 native trees and more than 1,400 types of orchids; a third of them can be found in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Almost a half of the country's land is covered by forests, though only 3.5% is covered by primary forests. Deforestation is a devastating process, with more than 8,100 ha of forest being lost annually. The main reason for such high deforestation levels is to make plains for cattle ranching.
Wildlife diversity is very high; there are 441 species of amphibians and reptiles, 838 species of birds, 232 species of mammals and 181 species of fresh water fish. Costa Rica has high levels of endemism; 81 species of amphibians and reptiles, 17 species of birds and 7 species of mammals are endemic to the country. However, many species are endangered. According to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 209 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and plants are endangered.Some of the country's most endangered species are the Harpy eagle, the Giant anteater, the Golden toad and the Jaguar. IUCN reports the Golden toad as extinct.
Costa Rica is famous for its 26 national parks and more than 160 protected areas. The other types of protected areas in Costa Rica are National Wildlife Refuges, Biological Reserves, Protection Zones, and Absolute Nature Reserves. Together the protected areas comprise over one-fourth of Costa Rican territory. 9.3% of the country is protected under IUCN categories I-V.
The creation of the Tortuguero National Park in 1970 gave much needed protection to one of the region's most important and unique natural resources: a 22 km stretch of shoreline that serves as the principal nesting site for sea turtles.
Environmental issues include deforestation, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching; soil erosion; coastal marine pollution; fisheries protection; solid waste management; and air pollution.
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Costa Rica is party to many environmental 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 ratified the Convention on Marine Life Conservation and the Kyoto Protocol.
Central America is located on the southern tip of North America, or is sometimes defined as a subcontinent of the Americas, bordered by Mexico to the north, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south. Central America consists of seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The combined population of Central America has been estimated to be 41,739,000 and 42,688,190.
Nicaragua is a country in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Costa Rica and Honduras. Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America.
Panama is a country located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, between Colombia and Costa Rica. Panama is located on the narrow and low Isthmus of Panama.
Guanacaste is a province of Costa Rica located in the northwestern region of the country, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It borders Nicaragua to the north, Alajuela Province to the east, and Puntarenas Province to the southeast. It is the most sparsely populated of all the provinces of Costa Rica. The province covers an area of 10,141 km2 (3,915 sq mi) and as of 2010, had a population of 354,154.
The Central Valley is a plateau and a geographic region of central Costa Rica. The land in the valley is a relative plain, despite being surrounded by several mountains and volcanos, the latter part of the Central Range. The region houses almost three quarters of Costa Ricans, and includes the capital and most populous city, San José. The valley is shared among the provinces of Alajuela, Heredia, San José and Cartago. The region occupies an area of 11,366 km², more than a fifth of the country, and is drained by the Tárcoles River on the west side and by the Reventazón River on the east side.
San Carlos is the 10th canton in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 3,347.98 square kilometres (1,292.66 sq mi), making it the largest canton in the country. It has a population of 178,460. ranking it fifth.
The Cordillera de Guanacaste, also called Guanacaste Cordillera, are a volcanic mountain range in northern Costa Rica near the border with Nicaragua. The mountain range stretches 110 km from northwest to the southeast and contains mostly complex stratovolcanoes. The range forms part of the southern region of the Continental Divide, with the highest peak is the stratovolcano Miravalles at 2,028 m.
Maquenque National Park is a proposed National Park, which would form part of the Arenal Huetar Norte Conservation Area, in the northern part of Costa Rica. It would bring together a number of existing Nature Reserves, Wildlife refuges and Forest Reserves to form a new National Park. The park would cover areas between the San Carlos River and the Sarapiquí River and other areas near the Nicaraguan border.
Cerro Kamuk is a mountain in the core of the mountains of La Amistad International Park, in the Cordillera de Talamanca, between the mountain ranges of northern Panama and southeastern Costa Rica. These are one of the highest and wildest mountains of Central America. The diversity of species in this area is unequaled in any other similarly sized reserve in the world. The area protected comprises four national parks clustered together that became La Amistad Biosphere Reserve. UNESCO declared it a natural World Heritage Site in 1983. It is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, UNESCO's project shared by eight Central American countries to help protect the remaining pristine mountain forest and wildlife of Central America
The Costa Rican páramo, also known as the Talamanca páramo, is a natural region of montane grassland and shrubland of Costa Rica and western Panama.
Limón is the first canton in the province of Limón in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 1,765.79 km², and has a population of 97,102. Its capital is the provincial capital city of Puerto Limón.
Dice's cottontail is a species of cottontail rabbit in the family Leporidae. It is found in Costa Rica and Panama, in páramo and cloud forest habitats.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Costa Rica:
The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to the Republic of Costa Rica.
This is an Index of Central America-related articles. This index defines Central America as the seven nations of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
The Sixaola River is a river in southern Limón Province, Costa Rica. It flows from the Cordillera Talamanca to the Caribbean Sea northeast of Sixaola at. The river's headwaters are part of the La Amistad International Park. For part of its length, the river forms the border between Limón Province, Costa Rica and Bocas del Toro Province, Panama. An old railroad bridge spans the river between Guabito, Panama, and Sixaola, Costa Rica. This bridge is a border crossing between Costa Rica and Panama. Tourists use the border crossing when travelling between Costa Rica and Bocas del Toro.
The Costa Rica–Panama border is the 330 km international boundary between Costa Rica and Panama. The border in its present state is demarcated by the Echandi-Fernandez Treaty of 1941.
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