Costa Rica

Explore historical and projected climate data, climate data by sector, impacts, key vulnerabilities and what adaptation measures are being taken. Explore the overview for a general context of how climate change is affecting Costa Rica.


Costa Rica is at risk from several natural disasters, which pose a great threat under a changing climate. Costa Rica has the 8th highest economic risk exposure to three or more hazards and 6.8 percent of its total area is exposed to three or more adverse natural events. Further, 77.9 percent of Costa Rica’s population and 80.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product reside in areas at high risk of multiple hazards, including floods and landslides, cyclones, storm surge, and sea level rise.

This section provides a summary of key natural hazards and their associated socioeconomic impacts in a given country. And it allows quick evaluation of most vulnerable areas through the spatial comparison of natural hazard data with development data, thereby identifying exposed livelihoods and natural systems.

Natural Hazard Statistics

The charts provide overview of the most frequent natural disaster in a given country and understand the impacts of those disasters on human populations.

Natural Hazard / Development Nexus

This tool allows the overlay of different natural hazard maps with social economic datasets by sliding the bar horizontally, which provides a broad sense of vulnerable areas.


Key Vulnerabilities

  • In recent years (2001-2008), floods and storms have had the highest human and economic impact in Costa Rica – 106,000 people have been affected by floods in 8 flooding events, with the cost of damages reaching US$106 million.
  • Evidence of acceleration in sea level rise (up to 2-3mm/yr) over the past decade suggests an increase in the vulnerability of low-lying coasts, which are already subjected to increasing storm surges.
  • Costa Rica is vulnerable to tropical and subtropical cyclones and their associated storm surges on its Caribbean coast.
  • In 2005, landslides caused major damage to agricultural fields and areas covered with primary forest. 

More information on natural hazards can be found at ThinkHazard.

  • Storm and flood warning systems, coupled with improved sanitation and agricultural adaption measures, would curb damage and help protect vulnerable populations. Impact assessments should also be performed on the aquifers in the San Jose metropolitan area in the Northwestern Region of the Central Valley, as they are the primary source of water for over half of the country’s population.
  • Low-lying coastal regions impacted by sea level rise and increased severe weather require more adequate funding for preparedness, climate proofing, and strategic public infrastructure. Housing designs able to sustain some coastal flooding should be expanded through municipal building codes and land use guidelines.
  • Changes in storm regimes near the coast may further erode coastal morphology, disrupt fishing areas and agricultural lands, and salinize water sources. Impact assessments should be performed to identify the most at-risk ecosystems and water sources and to aid in the creation of appropriate adaptation measures and programs.