Two chains of mountain ranges run from northwest to southeast, almost the entire length of Costa Rica. Running from the northwest to the central part of the country is the Cordillera Volcánica Central, which is noted for its volcanic activity. From the south-central to the southeast is the Cordillera de Talamanca.
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Landforms of Central America
The Andean Volcanic Belt is a major volcanic belt along the South American coast, segmented into four main areas of active volcanism. The Ring of Fire is an area in the Pacific Ocean basin where earthquakes and eruptions occur due to the movement and collision of tectonic plates.
Arenal National Park is located in Alajuela province in northwestern Costa Rica. The park encompasses the Arenal Volcano, an active andesitic stratovolcano. It was Costa Rica's most active volcano until 2010 and one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world.
The Azuero Peninsula is located in southern Panama, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean the Gulf of Panama. Panama City, the Panamanian capital, is the main urban center on the gulf shore. The Pearl Islands are an archipelago in the Gulf of Panama.
The Caribbean Plate is a mostly oceanic tectonic plate underlying much of Central America and the Caribbean Sea off the north coast of South America. These borders are regions of intense seismic activity, including frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
The Central America Volcanic Arc (CAVA) is a chain of hundreds of volcanic formations that extend from Guatemala to northern Panama, parallel to the Pacific coastline of the Central American Isthmus. These volcanic formations range from major stratovolcanoes to lava domes and cinder cones.
Cocos Island lies off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and is the only island in the tropical eastern Pacific with a tropical rain forest. Surrounded by deep waters with counter-currents, Cocos Island National Park is admired by scuba divers for its populations of large marine species.
The Cocos Plate is a tectonic plate beneath the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of Central America. It is named for Cocos Island, which is the only emergent island of the plate.
Coiba National Park, off the western coast of Panama, protects Coiba Island and 38 smaller islands as well as surrounding marine areas within the Gulf of Chiriqui. Coiba’s Pacific tropical moist forest maintains high levels of mammal, bird and plant endemism.
The Continental Divide extends from the most northern reaches of North America to the most southern reaches of South America. It separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Cordillera de Guanacaste is a volcanic mountain range in northwestern Costa Rica, near the border with Nicaragua. The mountain range forms part of the southern region of the Continental Divide and contains a number of volcanic peaks as well as several protected areas.