San Jose – Heredia – Alajuela – Guanacaste – Puntarenas – Limon – Cartago
The Limón Province consists of thick tropical jungles, coconut trees, ornamental plants, beaches, small towns, and an assortment of villages, and banana plantations. Limon is a top spot for scientific and ecological tourism and studies. The capital city Limón has over 60,000 inhabitants, and is located on the Carribean Coast.
Limón conjures up images of Costa Rica’s coconut-fringed Caribbean coast. Although the province does indeed extend the length of this coast — from the mouth of the San Juan River in the north, to the mouth of the Sixaola River on the Panamanian border — the southern sector includes a large area of mountainous terrain that stretches up to the country’s highest peak, Mt. Chirripó, in the Talamanca Cordillera. Likewise, the provincial boundaries also climb to over 2,000 m. elevation on the northeastern flank of Turrialba Volcano.
Despite the rise in elevation from sea level to 3,820 meters, Limón is the only one of Costa Rica’s seven provinces to be entirely on the Caribbean side of the Continental Divide, and thus its weather is directly affected by the flow of warm, moist air brought in off this body of water by the northeast trade winds. The result is a climate with no pronounced dry season, even though it does tend to be less rainy in the months of March, April, September, and October, and typically rains the most in June, July, August, November, and December. The lowland regions remain warm and humid year-round, while the higher portions are both cooler and wetter.
Christopher Columbus, or Cristobal Colón as he is known in Spanish, and his crew were the first Europeans to lay eyes on the shores and forest-covered mountains of Costa Rica. On the great Admiral’s fourth and final voyage to the Americas, in 1502, he anchored near what is now the port city and provincial capital of Limón. His brief dealings with the native people he met on the mainland were apparently good-natured, yet this benevolent interaction was not to be the norm during the centuries to come.
Spanish settlement of Costa Rica came not from the Atlantic but from the Pacific side of the country. Given the mountainous barrier between the Central Valley and the Caribbean lowlands, as well as the dense forests and high rainfall characteristic of the latter region, would-be colonists were faced with a real challenge. The periodic expeditions organized with, at least in part, the purpose of establishing permanent settlements in the Caribbean region inevitably met with failure. Their cruel treatment of the indigenous people did not help the Spaniards in their objective either, since the natives in the area wholeheartedly resisted colonization.
Thus, throughout the three centuries of the colonial period, while the Central Valley and northern Pacific portions of Costa Rica were being progressively dominated by settlers from Spain, the Atlantic wilderness continued to be an untamed frontier.
The real opening of Costa Rica’s eastern frontier did not come until the second half of the 19th century. In 1867, the site for a Caribbean port was chosen, and it is said that growing on the spot was an old lemon tree, or limon.
To make the port accessible from the interior of the country, the government decided to construct a railroad and contracted the services of the North American entrepreneur, Minor Keith, in exchange for 300,000 hectares of land in the Caribbean lowlands, plus other benefits.
Keith established banana plantations on the land and brought in Afro-American workers from Jamaica to tend the plantations and build the railroad, thus changing not only the physical environment — which for thousands of years had been rain forest — but also the cultural milieu of the region.
1) Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge
2) Tortuguero National Park
3) Braulio Carrillo National Park
4) Cahuita National Park
5) Gandoca – Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge
6) La Amistad International Park
7) Hitoy – Cerere Biological Reserve
8) Chirripó National Park