Costa Rica
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Geography Study Topics for Costa Rica

Costa Rica provides your students with rewarding first hand experience of geography in action. Explore a host of geography and geology topics, and visit field stations to learn about and take part in a variety conservation projects, bringing to life a range of geographical concepts and field work:

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Tectonic processes, landforms & hazards

Costa Rica sits above the collision point of two tectonic plates; the Cocos and Caribbean plates. The movement of these plates has created over 200 volcanoes, 6 of which are currently active. The country is also prone to earthquakes making Costa Rica a top choice when studying living with natural hazards.

Weather processes & hazards

Compare the weather in San Jose, the central valley and the tropical rainforests. What has caused the varied climate, how do these weather systems interact, and to what extent is the climate of one region influenced by that of another? Why does Costa Rica experience high rainfall compared to the UK?

Climate change

Costa Rica is sensitive to climate change and has experienced increased rainfall and temperatures in recent decades. The government has a self-imposed goal of Costa Rica becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral country. It has increased rainforest coverage by 31% of its overall territory from 1983-2012, and plans targeting transport, agriculture and waste aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

Costa Rica’s amazing biodiversity can be attributed to its incredible geographic diversity; from high altitude cloudforest regions, to lowland tropical rainforests plus mangroves and some of the healthiest coral reef to be found in Central America.
Coastal processes, landforms & management
Costa Rica is a long, narrow country bordered by two lengthy coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, offering plenty of opportunities to study different features. Marine reserves manage and conserve coastal environments whilst the impact of waves on coastlines via deposition and destruction can also be seen.
Water & river processes, landforms & management
With high altitude areas and a lot of rain it is no surprise that Costa Rica has many fast flowing rivers. The rivers form an important habitat for local wildlife; some are used for hydroelectric power generation while others are famous for white water rafting!
Geological processes & landforms
Compare the limestone scenery of the Venedo caves with the igneous and metamorphic rocks around Poas, Arenal and Miravalles volcanoes.
Urban change & growth
How has urban migration from rural areas changed San Jose in recent years? What impact have economic migrants from Nicaragua and Panama influenced this migration?
Development & inequality
How has Costa Rica’s strong economic growth and industrialisation of the last 20 years affected equality inn the country? What are the differences in wealth between urban and rural areas?
Food resources
Visit a coffee plantation to learn more about one of Costa Rica’s famous food exports. You’ll also see plenty of banana and pineapple plantations as you travel around. Cash crops are the largest export sector in Costa Rica, closely followed by electronic components and medical products, though the gap is closing.
Water resources
Compare the infrastructure required for water supply in Costa Rica with that in the UK. How does Costa Rica’s climate, size and water demands impact on this?
Energy resources
Costa Rica generated 99% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2015. Visit HEP and geothermal power stations to learn more about sustainable energy and how Costa Rica has successfully implemented a powerful drive towards renewable energy production.