Costa Rica may be a small country, but when it comes to high-quality coffee production its other national resources, and a continually growing tourism industry, it is incredibly important. Surprisingly, not a lot of people know where Costa Rica is, or even what the country is about.
Even though this should have been one of this first articles for the this Costa Rica blog, I figure it was about time I return to the basics and share a few basic pieces of information about the country so you know more about it.
Where is Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is located in Central America. It is placed in the center of the small strip of land that connects North America to South America and is positioned between the countries of Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.
Costa Rica and Nicaragua are separated by natural geographic features such as winding rivers. It isn’t really hard to tell where Costa Rica ends and Nicaragua begins, basically.
To the southeast of the mainland of Costa Rica, you have Panama. However, Costa Rica stretches down a little bit more than this. Because Costa Rica is also responsible for Cocos Island, which is the southernmost part of the country. This is located close to Ecuador.
To the southwest of the country, you will find the Pacific Ocean. To the northeast, you have the Caribbean Sea.
What is the Geography of Costa Rica?
While Costa Rica may be a small country (covering an area of roughly 51,000 square miles) , the landscape of the region is incredibly varied.
Along the coasts, you have beautiful, white sandy beaches. These overlook blue waters. Heading out to sea a little, there are several islands that belong to Costa Rica. However, very few of them maintain populations outside of any Park Rangers that may be controlling the island to help protect them.
There are five different mountain ranges in Costa Rica. Mount Chirripo is the highest mountain in the country, sitting at a lofty 12,540-feet. Some of these mountains have lush forests sitting upon them.
In addition to the mountain ranges, there are multiple volcanoes scattered around the country. In fact, there are 60 volcanoes. 5 of them are still active volcanoes. Because of the location of Costa Rica, the country is prone to earthquakes, albeit very mild ones. This is how the country managed to end up with so many volcanoes.
The rest of the land is rife with winding rivers, lush forests, and agricultural farmland.
In short, Costa Rica is an incredibly beautiful country. It is likely to get even more beautiful too. Costa Rica is one of the only countries on this planet that has not only managed to stop deforestation, but it has reversed the process. This means that more and more trees are being planted.
So, while there is still wood being gathered in the country, it is sustainably gathered. More trees will always end up being planted than cut down. This means that the rainforests of Costa Rica will continue to be around for a long time still.
What is the Climate in Costa Rica?
Because Costa Rica is located ever so slightly above the equator, the climate of the country reflects that. You aren’t getting seasons like Spring or Fall here. The country has just 2 seasons; Summer and Winter. However, the Winter is unlike anything else you would have experienced. This is because it is a tropical winter.
The summer months in Costa Rica start in December and go all the way through to April. This is called the dry season. While there is a little bit of rain in the country during the dry season, it is fairly minimal.
The rest of the year is the rainy season in Costa Rica. While some may call this winter, it isn’t. Because Costa Rica is so close to the equator, the average temperature doesn’t change all that much. It just gets wetter. In some regions, up to 600cm of rain can fall each year.
Somewhat surprisingly, the rainy season is when Costa Rica gets most of its tourism. This is because it has an impact on some of the watersports activities around the coast of the country such as surfing and fishing, and the rainforests become a lot greener. Don’t worry. It doesn’t really tend to rain constantly during the rainy season. Sure, when it rains, it really rains. However, the early morning tends to be sunny, with showers of rain happening later on in the day.
No matter when you visit Costa Rica, you can expect there to be around 12-hours of sunlight every single day. Again, another benefit of the country being near the equator. Nothing ever changes. This does make it somewhat unusual that the country follows daylight savings time, though.
What Time Zone is Costa Rica In?
Costa Rica is in the Central Standard Time and 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-6)
Costa Rica does not use Daylight Savings Time and therefore, the clocks do not change in Costa Rica as they do in the United States and in many other parts of the world
What is the Population of Costa Rica?
The country has a little over 5,100,000 people living there. Almost half of this population lives around the capital of Costa Rica; San Jose. Well, at least in the surrounding Metropolitan area. Only about 350,000 people live in the city itself.
Despite the small population, the country is economically stable, and it has been claimed that the standard of living in Costa Rica is higher than anywhere else in Central America.
What Language is Spoken in Costa Rica?
The main language spoken in Costa Rica is Spanish, and it has been since Spanish colonization. However, there are three other languages that are recognized in the region:
- Mekatelyu, which is sometimes known as ‘Jamaican Creole’. which sounds English, albeit with a different sentence structure.
- Bribri was a language spoken by some of the original natives of Costa Rica. However, there are only 11,000 speakers globally now, which means it is not spoken extensively in the country. However, it remains a recognized language.
- Patois is the original version of Mekatelyu (that is a dialect). So, it has an English base from the colonization period, although it has also been heavily influenced by West Africa.
While English is not an officially recognized language in Costa Rica, it is claimed that the majority of the population can speak English to a certain degree. This is why the country is so economically viable. They have managed to tap into international trade.