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GUANACASTE

Area: 10,140 KM2 or 6,300 square miles

Population: 224,631

Capital: Liberia, population 32,951, 175 miles from San Jose

Climate: Warm, average temperature 83 F

Altitude: 25 meters or 82 feet above sea level

Guanacaste is one of the largest and least populated of the seven provinces of Costa Rica. The province is known primarily for its cattle production, and it is often compared to the State of Texas for this reason. This comparison is not altogether erroneous as Guanacaste shares with Texas the long stretches of plains which are ideal for cattle ranches. The region has been designated by the government as a preferential tourism development area. In order to facilitate access, the Liberia airport was upgraded and extended so as to become the second international airport in the country.

Foreign pensioners and investors have chosen the area for retirement, in Flamingo Beach there are mainly USA citizens, in Tamarindo and Playa Grande mostly Europeans and in Potrero predominantly Canadians. Guanacaste, like the rest of Costa Rica, has interesting national parks which boast of lush flora and fauna, bird and wildlife .

Santa Cruz

This city has been declared Costa Rica's National Folklore City. Santa Cruz is famous for its colorful fiestas which feature delicious native foods and dances, among them the Punto Guanacasteco. Santa Cruz is a short 30-minute drive south from Liberia.

Guaitil

This small town hosts one of Costa Rica's best centers for native ceramic handicrafts. Guaitil is situated amid Costa Rican cattle country between the cities of Santa Cruz and Nicoya. The Guaitil Art Cooperative continues the long tradition of fine Chorotega Indian ceramic crafts. Descendants of this Indian tribe own and operate the center while generating their modem creations employing the techniques of their forefathers.

The Beaches of Guanacaste

Guanacaste is also famous for its spectacular Pacific Coast beaches which go on for over one hundred miles. The beaches of Guanacaste are blessed with blissful sunny days and warm crystalline waters. Swimming, fishing, snorkeling, sunbathing and surfing are just a few of many watersports available to the visitor. In addition, visitors are able to dine on freshly caught local seafood under clear, star-studded skies with low humidity and cool evening breezes.

Guanacaste's vacation beach is ideal for surfing, in fact the province is rated to be among the top five surfing areas in the world. Deep sea fishing is excellent, world championships are held annually. Most of Guanacaste's glistening white sand beaches are lined with palm trees and lush vegetation. Some of the beaches are the breeding grounds for turtles (leatherbacks, hawksbill and pacific ridley). They say there are so many beaches in Guanacaste that you might be surprised and enjoy the beach all alone ...

Beach Lodging: Among the many areas of Guanacaste offering first class accommodations in addition to beautiful white sand beaches are: Playa Grande Tamarindo Beach, , Playa Flamingo, Garza, and Playa Hermosa, Samara and Nosara. All of these can be reached by car from San JosÚ. Drive time will be between 3 Ż to 4 hours.

National Parks

The national parks of Costa Rica had their beginnings in a section of the 1969 Forestry Protection Law. Since then, Costa Rica has established a system of 39 national parks and biological reserves which cover 1,514,683 acres, an equivalent to 25% of its total land area. These parks and reserves protect the nation's most outstanding natural and cultural assets.

Vast and beautiful wilderness areas offer protection to most of the 205 species of mammals, 850 species of birds, 220 species of reptiles and 160 species of amphibians that have been recorded in the country. Also protected are the over 9,000 species of vascular plants that have been identified to date. These plant species account for almost 4% of the total number of plant types known to exist in the world.

The protected areas are also important conservation sites for almost all of the diverse natural habitats of Costa Rica. Some of these habitats are deciduous forests, mangrove swamps, rain forests, herbaceous swamps, cloud forests, oak groves, coral reefs, riperian forests and swamp forests.

Exceptionally important are areas such as nesting beaches for endangered sea turtles, island roosting sites for pelicans, frigate birds, and rare habitat types such as the Middle American dry forest, are protected as well.

The system of national parks and reserves also contains numerous areas of geological interest, from active volcanoes and thermal springs to caves and scenic landscapes with cascading waterfalls. In addition, important historical and archaeological sites found within the park system include battlefields and Pre-Columbian settlements.

Due to Costa Rica's commitment to protecting its remarkable biological richness and diversity, it has become an international center for scientists, naturalists and tourists wishing to study and admire the lush tropical American flora and fauna.

Wildlife

Although this Web page must limit its description of the abundance and diversity of Costa Rica's wildlife, another word on the country's amazing avian and animal wealth. Costa Rica has long been famous among serious birdwatchers, but many people who would never consider the activity at home become quickly interested in the country's spectacular diversity of birds. With 848 species of birds - more than in all of North America and Mexico - packed into an area half the size of Kentucky, it's hard not to become enthused about the variety of feathered creatures one encounters in Costa Rica.

There are a dazzling 57 species of hummingbirds and their flower flitting relatives, 16 different species of parrots, several species of toucans and their cousins, colorful trogons and motmots and spectacularly colorful creatures like the scarlet macaw and the resplendent quetzal, which many consider the most beautiful bird in the world. One of the reasons for this extraordinary avian wealth is the country's great variety of habitats: rain forests, mangrove swamps, beaches, cloud forests, rivers, lakes... the list goes on. And any two of these ecosystems, with their resident bird species, are often only a short distance apart.

The coasts, especially the Pacific, are alive with seabirds. It's easy to spot pelicans, terns sandpipers and magnificent frigatebirds. Wetlands are home to an even more impressive variety, including long-legged waders like the heron, ibis, spoonbill and the country's largest bird: the jabiru stork. Rain forests harbor an even greater variety, ranging from tiny hummingbirds to the bulky guans and curassows. The melodic oropendolas are common in many parts, and their colonies of hanging nests can be spotted in the crowns of large trees. But the star attractions are the noisy parrots, parakeets and toucans, and especially the spectacular scarlet macaws, which can be seen in Carara Biological Reserve and Corcovado National Park.

Though the bird population is impressive, there are lots of other exciting and interesting animals to be found in Costa Rica. The country is home for 237 species of mammals, 361 species of reptiles and amphibians, 10 percent of the world's butterfly species and more types of insects than the biologist can count.

The most exotic rain-forest creatures are probably the big mammals, like the jaguar and tapir, but those animals are so rare a-and secretive that only the luckiest tourists ever catch a glimpse of them. But there is plenty out there that's not too tough to see... Monkeys are among the most entertaining animals in the forest, and Costa Rica has four species, of which you're bound to spot a few: the noisy howler, the rambunctious spider, the cute capuchin, and the adorable squirrel monkey, which is only found in Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks.

Other mammals include the armadillo, which looks like a tiny tank, the agouti and paca, two terrier sized jungle rodents, a-and two types of anteaters. The most impressive lizards are the crocodiles, which can grow as long as 15 feet. However, as massive as the crocs may be, the largest reptile in the world is the leatherback sea turtle, which nests on Playa Grande and on others beaches at night.






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