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Costa Rica: the rich coast

When Columbus dubbed it the "rich coast" in 1502, he was referring to his hopes of gold, but the real wealth of this tiny country is its amazing biodiversity. Sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama, its land area is less than half of Scotland's. Yet its habitats include extensive Pacific and Caribbean coasts, volcanoes (active and dormant), primary rainforest and montane cloudforest. Combined with its rich soils and tropical climate, this makes for an incredible richness of plants, animals, and above all birds. About 900 avian species are resident and Keir is setting about learning to idenitfy some of them – quite a challenge. With only about 0.04% of the world's land area, Costa Rica officially has 5% of its measured biodiversity.

Of only 4 million Ticos (as nationals call themselves), one third live in San Jose. The rest seem to live in national parks and conservation areas. OK, that's an exaggeration, but 25 per cent of its land is inside national parks, and this peaceful country (it disbanded its army under its 1949 constitution) has wisely focused on ecotourism. And it does it very well. Every driver, waiter and boat captain sees wiildlife spotting as part of the job, not just the professional ornithologists.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 22, 2012 12:32 PM.

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