Guanacaste (Spanish pronunciation: is a province of Costa Rica located in the northwestern region of the country, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It borders Nicaragua to the north, Alajuela Province to the east, and Puntarenas Province to the southeast. It is the most sparsely populated of all the provinces of Costa Rica. The province covers an area of 10,141 km2 (3,915 sq mi) and as of 2010, had a population of 354,154.
Guanacaste’s capital is Liberia. Other important cities include Cañas and Nicoya.
A beach in the Guanacaste Province. Typical headdress of Costa Rican oxen
The province is bounded on the east by a group of green-swathed volcanoes forming the Cordillera de Guanacaste (which features Orosi, Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles and Tenorio volcanoes) and the Cordillera de Tilarán. The rivers that tumble out of these steep mountains flow down to rolling flatlands, forming a vast alluvial plain drained by the Rio Tempisque, which empties through swampy wetlands into de Golfo de Nicoya. The Rio Tempisque defines one side of the horsehead-shaped Península de Nicoya enclosing the gulf to the west.
Guanacaste’s climate and culture are unique among Costa Rican provinces. The province experiences little rain and consistent heat from November to April, resulting in ubiquitous tropical dry forests as a natural adaption to the dry season conditions. Tourists seek out this dry heat during the North American winter to enjoy the Guanacastecan beaches. Irrigation of the agricultural land is necessary during the long dry period. From May to October, the climate is similar to that of San José, consisting of showers daily and moderate temperatures. Guanacaste is, however, considerably warmer than other provinces in the country located in higher elevations.
Tourism spreads across Guanacaste’s 5,921 sq. miles and more than 400 miles of coast line. Main attractions of tourists include water, land, mountains, volcanos, and coastal ecosystems. The two main commercial areas Santa Cruz and Liberia with six surrounding tourism development centers: Papagayo Peninsula, El Coco, Las Catalinas, Flamingo, Conchal, and Tamarindo. Liberia is central to the six locations and is complete with an airport. Animal rehab center, Centro de Rescate Las Pumas, is located in the heart of Area de Conservación Guanacaste World Heritage Site. The Guanacaste province is home to the bulk of Costa Rica’s all-inclusive resorts. This along with its proximity to both beaches and the Arenal volcano have made it one of the more popular tourist destinations in the country.
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