Geography – So Big Yet So Small

Many first time visitors are surprised by how mountainous the country is. The variety of elevation, dominated by a jagged central ridge in a narrow isthmus separating a vast cool sea from a smaller, warmer sea provides much of the incredible biodiversity and natural beauty of this pocket sized country. It makes the country seem much bigger than it is and local travel more challenging – and therefore more interesting. 
 
Costa Rica covers about fifty thousand square kilometers, slightly less than twenty thousand square miles. That’s a fifth larger than Switzerland, about half the size of Kentucky, Ohio or Virginia.
 
It is relatively young geographically and a still evolving land mass with active volcanoes and earthquake activity. Although no part of the country is immune from seismic activity, the Costa Ballena is among the least likely to experience catastrophic buckling.
 
Varying elevations and proximity to either the Caribbean Sea or the Pacific Ocean determine much of the climatic and topographic variation. From the plains of Guanacasta, to peaks nearing 4,000 meters (over 12,000 feet), to the coastal lowlands of the southeast, few countries of any size offer the diversity of environments of Costa Rica.