Central Highlands / Greater San José

Central Highlands Region


Over 60 percent of Costa Rica's population occupies the expansive, fertile plateau known as the Central Highlands, or Meseta Central. More than 1,200 square miles in area, this province is the location of some of the nation's largest, most densely-populated, and economically-productive towns and cities, the most notable being San José, Costa Rica's capital.

Lush and verdant, dynamic and full of culture, the Central Highlands is a majestic, sprawling valley, flanked by forest-swathed mountains on two sides. To the south, the Talamanca range provides many opportunities for discovery and outdoor adventure. The northern border is formed by the Cordillera Central, a string of volcanoes including Volcán Poás, Barva, Irazú, Cacho Negro, and Turrialba. A low range of hills, the Cerro de la Carpintera, run north-south, dividing the larger valley into two smaller valleys. To the west of the hills, San José and surrounding cities occupy this larger, more heavily-populated half. The smaller Cartago valley slopes eastward, then falls steeply through the valley of the Río Reventazón to the Caribbean Lowlands.

The clear, refreshing climate of this region resembles a perpetual springtime, becoming gradually cooler with greater elevation. The average temperature is approximately 74°F (23°C) throughout the year, and the skies are rarely overcast. It's no wonder that National Geographic determined San José as possessing one of the top three best climates in the world.

The coupling of its moist, temperate climate with the blessing of exceptionally fertile soil has long made the Central Highlands the obvious breadbasket of Costa Rica. Moderate yet dependable rainfall ensures that the nutrient-filled volcanic soil is ideal for farming. Dairy and horticulture farms abound, and the hills are filled with crops of strawberry, sugarcane, and coffee. The latter has had the greatest impact on the character and customs of the Central Highlands, and no where is Costa Rica's coffee culture more apparent than in San José.


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Regional Overview

Costa Rica Maps - Central Highlands

Over 60 percent of Costa Rica's population occupies the expansive, fertile plateau known as the Central Highlands, or Meseta Central.

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