Costa Rica - Topography

Costa Rica has three main topographic regions. The central highlands, extending from northwest to southeast, reach elevations of more than 3,660 m (12,000 ft) south of San José; the highest point in the country is Chirripó Grande (3,810 m/12,500 ft). Four volcanoes, two of them active, rise near the capital city; one of these volcanoes, Irazú (3,432 m/11,260 ft), erupted destructively during 1963–65. Nestled in the highlands is the Meseta Central, with an elevation of 900–1,200 m (3,000–4,000 ft), covering some 2,000 sq km (770 sq mi) of fairly level, fertile terrain. Half of the population, the centers of culture and government, four of the six main cities, and the bulk of the coffee industry are found on the plateau. The Atlantic coastal plain, on the Caribbean side of the highlands, comprises about 30% of Costa Rica's territory and is low, swampy, hot, excessively rainy, and heavily forested. The Pacific slope, some 40% of the country's area, resembles the Caribbean lowlands, but to the northwest is a dry area producing cattle and grain. Fifteen small rivers drain Costa Rica.

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