Costa Rica is located in southern Central America, bordered by Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the southeast. The Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean form its eastern and southwestern coastlines. Its geography features coastal plains and rainforests separated by rugged mountains and major volcanoes.
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Landforms of Costa Rica
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 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.
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 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.
The Cordillera de Talamanca is a mountain range that lies in the southeast half of Costa Rica and the far west of Panama. The range rises from sea level on the Caribbean side to over 12,000 ft and then drops back down to the General Valley on the Pacific side.
Golfo Dulce lies between the Osa Peninsula and the southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Coronado Bay lies to the northwest. The peninsula contains a complex of national parks and protects one of the most significant stands of virgin rain forest in Central America.
The Irazú Volcano is an active stratovolcano situated in the Cordillera Central of east-central Costa Rica. A popular tourist destination, Irazú Volcano National Park is part of the Central Conservation Area of Costa Rica and encompasses the area around the volcano.
Chirripó National Park is named for its most prominent feature, Cerro Chirripó, the highest mountain in Costa Rica. The park hosts important areas of Talamancan montane forest and Costa Rican páramo, with high endemism and extremely high biodiversity.