Valle Central is a highland valley region in central Costa Rica that hosts some of the most important cities in the country. Valle del General is an agricultural and coffee-growing region that lies at the base of the Cordillera de Talamanca in the south-central part of the country.
Valle Central (Central Valley), also called Meseta Central, is a highland valley region in central Costa Rica that contains approximately 70% of the population and is home to some of the most important cities in the country: San José, Heredia, Alajuela, and Cartago.
In addition to hosting government offices and the main institutions of the country, Valle Central is also where several smaller towns are located, such as Grecia, Naranjo, Palmares, San Ramón, etc. The Pan-American Highway passes through the region.
Valle Central is divided into two parts by the Continental Divide represented by two volcanic hills that are situated 900 - 1,500 m (3,000 - 5,000 ft) above sea level and lie between the city of Cartago and the city of San José, Costa Rica's capital and most populous city.
The higher eastern part of the valley is drained by the Reventazón River to the Caribbean Sea while the western sector forms part of the basin of the Grande de Tárcoles River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean.
The valley is surrounded by a series of hills, mountains, and mountain ranges. The western slopes of the Cordillera de Talamanca appear on the south side of the valley while the mountains north of the valley are part of the Cordillera Central.
Gradual weathering of volcanic material and basaltic lavas from the four volcanoes overlooking the valley from the Cordillera Central to the north provides the area with naturally rich soils.
Map of Costa Rica: the major cities of San José, Heredia, Alajuela, and Cartago are located in the Valle Central
Valle del General
Valle del General is a long syncline valley (tectonic depression) that lies at the base of the Cordillera de Talamanca in the south-central part of Costa Rica, within the provinces of San José and Puntarenas.
Valle del General runs northwest to southeast for approximately 75 km (46 mi), following the course of the General River from the confluence of the Chirripó Pacífico and Pacuare rivers in the northwest, to the Jaba and Coto Brus rivers in the southeast. The average altitude of the valley ranges from 500 - 1,000 m (1,640 - 3,280 ft) above sea level.
The valley is a rich agricultural area as well as one of the most important coffee-growing regions in the country. The city of San Isidro de El General, the most populated city in southeast Costa Rica, is located along the Inter-American Highway which traverses the valley.