Transport in Costa Rica

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San Pedro roundabout in San Jose CRC 07 2009 San Pedro Roundabout 6318.JPG
San Pedro roundabout in San José

There are many modes of transport in Costa Rica but the country's infrastructure has suffered from a lack of maintenance and new investment. There is an extensive road system of more than 30,000 kilometers, although much of it is in disrepair; this also applies to ports, railways and water delivery systems. [1] According to a 2016 U.S. government report, investment from China that attempted to improve the infrastructure found the "projects stalled by bureaucratic and legal concerns". [2] [3]


Most parts of the country are accessible by road. The main highland cities in the country's Central Valley are connected by paved all-weather roads with the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and by the Pan American Highway with Nicaragua and Panama, the neighboring countries to the north and to the south Costa Rica's ports are struggling to keep pace with growing trade. They have insufficient capacity, and their equipment is in poor condition. The railroad didn't function for several years, until recent government effort to reactivate it for city transportation. An August 2016 OECD report provided this summary: "The road network is extensive but of poor quality, railways are in disrepair and only slowly being reactivated after having been shut down in the 1990s. Seaports’ quality and capacity are deficient. Internal transportation overly relies on private road vehicles as the public transport system, especially railways, is inadequate." [4]


Road transportation

La Amistad de Taiwan Bridge over Tempisque River, part of National Route 18. CRI 12 2004 Puente Tempisque 430.JPG
La Amistad de Taiwán Bridge over Tempisque River, part of National Route 18.

The road system in Costa Rica is not as developed as it might be expected for such a country. However, there are some two-lane trunk roads with restricted access under development.

National road network

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT), along with the National Road Council (Conavi), are the government organizations in charge of national road nomenclature and maintenance.

There are three levels in the national road network:


730 km (454 mi), seasonally navigable by small craft


Ports and harbors

Cruise ships at Puntarenas. CRI 04 2013 Cruceros Puntarenas 6300.JPG
Cruise ships at Puntarenas.

In 2016, the government pledged ₡93 million ($166,000) for a new cruise ship terminal for Puerto Limón. [5]

Atlantic Ocean

Pacific Ocean

Merchant marine


Juan Santamaria International Airport. SJO Aerial view 019 01 2009.jpg
Juan Santamaría International Airport.

Total: 161 (2013) [6]

Airports - with paved runways

Airports - with unpaved runways

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Limón District and city in Costa Rica

Limón, commonly known as Puerto Limón, is a district, the capital city and main hub of Limón province, as well as of the Limón canton in Costa Rica. It is the seventh largest city in Costa Rica, with a population of over 55,000, and is home of the Afro-Costa Rican community. Part of the community traces its roots to Italian, Jamaican and Chinese laborers who worked on a late nineteenth-century railroad project that connected San José to Puerto Limón. Until 1948, the Costa Rican government did not recognize Afro-Caribbean people as citizens and restricted their movement outside Limón province. As a result of this "travel ban", this Afro-Caribbean population became firmly established in the region, which influenced decisions not to move even after it was legally permitted. Nowadays, there is a significant outflow of Limón natives who move to the country's Central Valley in search for better employment and education. The Afro-Caribbean community speaks Spanish and Limonese Creole, a creole of English.

The Port Terminal of Limón,, whose official name is Hernán Garrón Salazar Terminal, adjacent to the city of Limón, is one of the seaports in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

The Port Terminal of Moín,, whose official name is Gastón Kogan Kogan Terminal, is located in the Moín bay, west to the city of Limón, is one of the seaports in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Not to be confused with the Moín Container Terminal operated by APM Terminals.


  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-08-05. Retrieved 2017-08-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. 1 2 3 "The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency". Retrieved 2017-02-10.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website .