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Provinces - Costa Rica Country Profile


Area: 9,753 sq.km.

Capital: Alajuela

Distance from San Jose: 22.5 km

Climate: Moderate to warm, average temperature 23 to 26 C

Altitude: 925 mts above sea level

Alajuela is one of the most diverse and largest provinces of the country. Within the boundaries of Alajuela we find portions of the Central, Tilaran and Guanacaste Mountain Ranges. Another sight not to be missed are the panoramas of the lush and fertile plains of San Carlos. Altitudes vary from 90 to 900 meters above sea level, and drastic changes in flora and fauna are observed over relatively short distances.

Tourist Attractions: Juan Santamaria Museum, Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, Sarchi (oxcart factories), Poas Volcano National Park, Carara Biological Reserve

The towns of La Guacima, La Garita, Atenas, Grecia are among the most popular in Alajuela.


Area: 3,124 sq.km.

Capital: Cartago

Distance from San Jose: 27 km

Climate: Temperate to moderate, average temperature 20 to 23 C

Altitude: 1,439 mts above sea level.

Cartago is one of the smallest provinces, but also probably the richest in colonial tradition.
Cartago was the capital city of Costa Rica until 1823. Altitudes vary from the highest peak of Cerro de la Muerte at 3,600 meters above sea level to 90 meters above sea level at Turrialba.

Tourist Attractions: Ruins of Ujarras Orosi, Charrarra, Basilica de Los Angeles (Patron Saint of Costa Rica), Irazu Volcano National Park, Guayabo National Monument


Area: 10,140 sq.km.

Capital: Liberia

Distance from San Jose: 281 km

Climate: Warm, average temperature 28 C

Altitude: 25 mts above sea level

Guanacaste is one of the largest but yet one of the least populated provinces of Costa Rica. It is primarily known for its cattle production, but also for its spectacular Pacific coast beaches.

Tourist Attractions: Santa Rosa National Park, Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Palo Verde National Park, Barra Honda National Park, Guaitil (Chorotega Indian Ceramic)

The beaches of Ocotal, Hermosa, Coco, Tamarindo, Conchal, Flamingo are the most popular.


Area: 2,656 sq.km.

Capital: Heredia

Distance from San Jose: 10 kms

Climate: Moderate, average temperature 23 C

Altitude: 1,150 meters above sea level

Heredia is also very rich in colonial tradition. Situated on the Central Mountain Range and extending north towards the border with Nicaragua. Heredia is the heartland of Costa Rica's world famous coffee plantations.

Tourist Attractions: Braulio Carrillo National Park, Ojo de Agua, Monte de la Cruz, Barva Volcano National Park


Area: 9,188 sq.km.

Capital: Puerto Limon

Distance from San Jose: 209 kms

Climate: Hot humid, average temperature 29 C

Altitude: Sea level.

When Christopher Columbus discovered Costa Rica in 1502, it was the coastline of Limon that inspired him to name it the "Rich Coast". Limon has become an important area for fishing enthusiasts looking for Snook and Tarpon.

Tourist Attractions: Tortuguero National Park, Cahuita National Park, Barra de Colorado Wildlife Refuge, Hitoy - Cerere Biological Reserve, Gandoca - Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

The beaches of Puerto Viejo, Punta Uva, Punta Mona and Manzanillo are the most popular.


Area: 11,276 sq.km.

Capital: Puntarenas

Distance from San Jose: 130 kms

Climate: Hot, average temperature 28 C

Altitude: Sea level.

Puntarenas is the largest province. The principal attractions are on the Pacific coast itself. The islands located in the Gulf of Nicoya are within the boundaries of this province, as well as parts of the Tilaran and Talamanca Mountain Ranges. Puerto Caldera, located 16 km south of the city of Puntarenas, has become the most important Pacific port of call for some of the major cruise liners.

Tourist Attractions: Manuel Antonio National Park, Jaco Beach, Cabo Blanco Strict Nature Reserve, Cao Island Biological Reserve, Islands in the Gulf (Guayabo, Negritos, Pajaros Biological Reserves), Corcovado National Park.

The beaches of Herradura, Jaco, Hermosa, Manuel Antonio, Matapalo are the most popular.

San Jose

Area: 4,959 sq.km.

Capital: San Jose, capital of Costa Rica

Climate: Moderate, average temperature 23 C

Altitude: 1,160 mts above sea level

San Jose is the most populous province of the country. Within the boundaries of San Jose we find portions of the Central and Talamanca Mountain Ranges. The principal areas of development are the surrounding areas of the city of San Jose. San Jose shows with all the activity of any major metropolitan city, but at a somewhat slower pace.

Tourist Attractions: National Museum, Jade Museum, Gold Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, National Theater

The towns of Escazu, Santa Ana, Sabana, Rohrmoser, Los Yoses are among the most popular.

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