Costa Rican Central Valley

San José, Costa Rica

Costa Rican Central Valley

The Central Valley (Spanish: Valle Central) is a plateau and a geographic region of central Costa Rica. The land in the valley is a relative plain, despite being surrounded by several mountains and volcanoes, the latter part of the Central Range. The region houses almost three quarters of Costa Ricans, and includes the capital and most populous city, San José. The valley is shared among the provinces of Alajuela, Heredia, San José and Cartago. The region occupies an area of 11,366 km², more than a fifth of the country, and is drained by the Tárcoles River on the west side and by the Reventazón River on the east side.

The Central Valley is commonly considered to extend from the city of San Ramón in Alajuela in the west, to the city of Paraíso in Cartago in the east. The mountains north of the valley are part of the Central Range. There are four main volcanoes north of the valley, namely Poás, Barva, Irazú and Turrialba. The mountains that round the plateau to the south form part of the Talamanca Range. A smaller range, the Carpintera Hills, which runs from north to south roughly along the border between the provinces of San José and Cartago, divides the valley into two sections. The western section is normally referred to as "Western Valley" or "Central Valley" proper and the eastern section is referred to as the Eastern Valley or "Valle del Guarco". This smaller range also impacts the weather and ecosystems of the two subregions, with the Western Valley significantly influenced by the weather patterns of Costa Rica's Pacific coast and the Eastern Valley influenced by the Caribbean coast weather.

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