Costa Rica is a country in Central America bordering the Caribbean Sea, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Pacific Ocean. It is regarded as the country with the most stable democratic government of all the Central American countries. Costa Rica covers a land of approximately 18,700 square miles and 227 square miles of territorial waters. It has a coastline of approximately 1,290 kilometers on the Caribbean coast and the Pacific. Costa Rica is endowed with several natural resources that have contributed to its economic growth and development. The agricultural land and climate are some of the country’s most important natural resources. Discussed in this article are some of the major natural resources of Costa Rica
Historically, the economy of Costa Rica was based on agriculture. Agriculture still contributes greatly to the country’s gross domestic product. It accounts for 6.5% of the GDP and 15% of the labor force. Different crops are produced in different parts of the country. The major exports include coffee, rice, banana, vegetables, and sugar. Agricultural activities in the country have been promoted by the availability of large tracks of arable land. About 10% of the land use is dedicated to agriculture. Most of the regions of Costa Rica can support at least two crops. Coffee and sugar are grown in the highland regions while banana is grown in the lowlands. Pineapple is grown throughout the country. Costa Rica has the capacity to feeds itself but dedicates much of its arable land
Because Costa Rica is situated north of the equator, it experiences tropical climate throughout the year. However, it also has several microclimates depending on the level of elevation, geography, topography, and rainfall of the particular region. During the wet season (May-October in the north and April-December in the south), the onshore breeze and thermal convection bring a lot of rain to the Pacific coast. The trade winds on the Caribbean ensure that there is adequate precipitation in the east throughout the year. Costa Rica experiences the dry season from December to April and the wet or rainy season from May to November. San Jose receives ample rainfall and enjoys moderate temperatures.
According to the United States Geological Survey, Costa Rica has about 373 mineral deposits. Some of the most important minerals found in the country include copper which can be found in the Cordillera de Talamanca. There is also manganese found near Nicoya Peninsula and gold which is extremely rare and can be found in sections of the Pacific slopes and on the Osa Peninsula. Magnetite is scattered on some of the beaches, especially on the southern Caribbean beaches. The most important but yet to be exploited mineral is the bauxite which is common in the valley of General and Coto Brus. Despite the presence of such valuable minerals, the government of Costa Rica is yet to make a significant investment in mining.
Costa Rica has a rich diversity of plants and animals. While the country accounts for only 0.03% of the total land mass, it is home to 5% of the world’s plants and animals. About 25% of Costa Rica’s land area is covered by protected national parks and protected areas, the world’s largest protected area. Around one-third of the country is covered by the dense evergreen forest. The Corcovado National Park is renowned for its ecological biodiversity and visitors have an opportunity to see abundant wildlife including the big cat and the four Costa Rican monkey species. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve has over 2,000 plant species 400 of the 840 birds in Costa Rica, and 100 mammals. Costa Rica has abundant fruit trees which bear fruits throughout the year.
Costa Rica is crossed by dozens of rivers. The rivers range from rapids to peaceful canals and some are almost 100 meters wide and over 100 kilometers long. 14 of the rivers originates from the country’s mountains and drain into the Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Lake Nicaragua, or the San Juan River. One of the most popular rivers in the country is the Pacuare River, a popular water rafting location in the world. Other popular rivers include Sierpe River known for the largest mangrove system in Latin America, Rio Celeste which is popular for the blue waters, and the Tarcoles River, commonly referred to as “the crocodile bridge.”
Two mountain chains, Cordillera Volcanica, and the Cordillera de Talamanca run almost the entire length of Costa Rica. Cordillera Volcanica is divided into three mountain ranges, namely Tilaran, Guanacaste, and Central. The highest point in Costa Rica is Mount Cerro Chirripo at an elevation of 12,530 feet above sea level. It is the 5th highest mountain in Central America. Apart from the mountains, there are 60 volcanoes in Costa Rica. The abundant volcanoes are as a result of the two tectonic plates; Caribbean plate and the Cocos plate that sit beneath the country’s landmass. At 11,257 feet, Irazu Volcano is the highest volcano in Costa Rica.
Bordered by the Caribbean and the Pacific coastline, Costa Rica has some of the most stunning and most beautiful beaches in Central America. The country has a coastline measuring approximately 800 miles. The golden beaches on the Pacific Ocean and the powdery beaches on the Caribbean Sea make Costa Rica one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central America. Some of the famous beaches of Costa Rica include Playa Conchal, Manuel Antonio, Playa Flamingo, Tamarindo, and Punta Uva.
There are different types of forests in Costa Rica, most of which are protected areas. The forests are homes to species of plants and animals numbering thousands. The six main forests of Costa Rica are the tropical rainforest in the southwest region and the lowland Atlantic regions, the cloud forest in the protected areas of the Monteverde Cloud Forest and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, tropical dry forest located in North Pacific coast, mangrove forest found along the Pacific coast, lowland forest common in areas of elevations of up to 1,000 meters, and the riparian forests commonly found near water bodies such as rivers and streams.