Featuring both a Pacific and a Caribbean coastline and with a backbone of often fiery volcanoes, Costa Rica is one of the most varied and colourful of Central American countries. From the summit of its highest peak, Mount Chirripo (3820m), the land falls away eastwards to the hot and wet Caribbean coast, with its mangrove swamp and intracoastal waterways. To the west the much more extensive Pacific coast is drier and more rugged, with rocky headlands, sandy beaches and offshore islands. Overall, there is a tremendous variety of landscape and tropical habitat, giving rise to some of the most varied fauna on the planet. The capital, San Jose, lies in the middle of the fertile Central Valley where most of the country's three and a half million population live. Most visitors, whether looking to explore the trekking options, or to enjoy the wildlife, or to take an active family adventure, will have a varied itinerary, with visits to the pyrotechnic Volcan Arenal, to the turtle coast of Tortuguero and to the canopy-level walkways at the forest reserve of Monteverde.

Geography

Costa Rica is bordered to the north by Nicaragua and to the southeast by Panama. It has a Pacific and a Caribbean coastline, separated by a backbone of volcanoes and mountains, an extension of the Andes-Sierra Madre chain, which runs along the western side of the Americas. Lying on the Pacific “Rim of Fire” Costa Rica has seven of the Central American isthmus’s 42 active volcanoes, plus dozens of dormant and extinct cones. The country’s highest point is Mount Chirripo (3820m.). To the northeast of the volcanic highlands the hot, wet Caribbean coast stretches for 212km/131 miles and consists of mangrove swamp and intracoastal waterways. To the west the much more extensive Pacific coast is drier and more rugged, its 1016 km/ 631 miles length composed of rocky headlands, sandy beaches and off-shore islands. This small country, only 51,100 square kilometres/ 19700 square miles in area has a tremendous variety of landscape and tropical habitat giving rise to some of the most varied fauna on the planet. Costa Rica is world renowned for its efforts in conservation and has no less than 36 national parks and wildlife refuges. These, together with buffer zones around the parks account for over 25% of the total land area of the country. The capital, San Jose, lies in the middle of the fertile Central Valley where almost two-thirds of the three and a half million population live.

Time Zone

The time in Costa Rica is GMT -6 hours