Climate Change Overview

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for Costa Rica's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of Costa Rica's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

Situated between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America, Costa Rica occupies an area of 51,100 square kilometers (km2) and is bordered by both the Caribbean Sea in the north-east and the North Pacific Ocean in the southwest. The country’s topography is varied and includes coastal plains separated by rugged mountains, including over 100 volcanic cones. Even though Costa Rica constitutes only 0.034% of the total Earth surface, its habitats represent around 5% of the planet’s biodiversity. Costa Rica is known worldwide for its conservation efforts and is a hot spot for eco-tourism, with more than 26% of its land under protection. Due to a combination of geographic variations and economic factors, Costa Rica is highly vulnerable to extreme climate events and natural hazards. Part of this vulnerability is due to the presence of populations in vulnerable areas as well as the country’s severe risk to sea level rise (primary at-risk areas include Puerto Limón, Jaco and Puntarenas).

Costa Rica is classified by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income country and the country’s approximately 5 million people enjoy the highest standard of living in Central America, with a per capita GDP of approximately US $12,076 and an unemployment rate of around 11.5% in 2019. 80% of Costa Rica’s population resides in urban areas. Population projections for 2030 point to an additional 468,000 people living in the country, 85.8% residing in urban areas, while in 2050, the country’s estimated population will top 5.773 million inhabitants, of which 90.1% will reside in urban areas.

Costa Rica submitted its Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDC) to the UNFCCC in 2016, in support of the country’s efforts to realize its development goals and increase its resilience to climate change by enhancing mitigation and adaptation implementation efforts. De-carbonization is a priority for the country as indicated in the country’s decarbonization plan of 2019. Adaptation efforts, particularly in the water supply and agriculture sectors are high priorities and reflected in Costa Rica’s NDC. In support of adaptation efforts, Costa Rica aims to strengthen capacities and promote a high degree of coordination and teamwork between different government and civil society entities. The country also aims to support inter-ministerial coordination efforts, which are important in guaranteeing synergies between entities and to increase national research budgets on climate change. Climate change adaptation in Costa Rica is also strongly linked with components of the National Disaster Risk Management Policy, through capacity building for resilience and technology transfer. Costa Rica completed its Third National Communication (NC3) to the UNFCCC in 2014.