Getting Around Costa Rica

Costa Rica is not one of the biggest countries in the world, yet its topography means that it is one of the most difficult to build transport infrastructures for. This has not stopped the country from building them, it has just taken great planning and large investments of money to overcome the steep slopes and tropical vegetation.

The rail line from Alajuela to Limon

One of the earliest projects was to build a rail line from Alajuela in the interior to Puerto Limon on the Caribbean coast in order to export agricultural produce. This was essential to bring in foreign capital into the country because at this stage in the country’s history Costa Rica was one of the poorest nations in the world. Many lives were lost in the construction of the early railways but it was essential for the economic development of the country. However, over the years there has been a lack of investment in maintaining and repairing the railways and today the system is now suffering as a result of this.

The railways have also been effected by seismic activity and in 1992 many lines were damaged by the earthquake. There is now a concerted effort by the government to popularize rail travel with more money being invested in the rail system. The road system in the country is dominated by the major cities being connected by the highways. Outside of these major routes there is very little other network but this is hardly a surprise as the government is committed to preserving its natural environment. The construction of roads damages the environment and opens up rare ecosystems to potentially unwanted visitors.

The Juan Santamaria airport

The biggest road in the country is the Pan American highway as it passes through the country on its way from North to South America. It connects Liberia with San Jose, Cartago, Perez Zeledon, Palmares and Neily before crossing into Panama. It Costa Roca it is more commonly known as either route 1 or route 2. The road system is also suffering from the combination of more business activity, as the country continues to develop, with a lack of investment into maintaining the state of the road surfaces. The roads in the best condition are those servicing the major transport bubs such as the airports and the ports.

The majority of people arriving into Costa Rica do so through one of the four international airports in the Country. Two are found just outside the capital, San Jose with there being one each at Limon and Liberia. The largest airport is the Juan Santamaria International airport that is found 20km west of San Jose. The airport serves cities in South America, Central America, North America, the Caribbean and Europe. Throughout the country there are another 20 airports that are connected with the main international airport.

The ports of Costa Rica are a popular way for visitors to both enter and leave the country. These gateways are divided between the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast. On the Atlantic coast the government announced that there would be a new cruise ship terminal being built at Port Limon. Here the two docks have been the busiest ports in the country.

On the Pacific side of the country the port at Puntarenas was built in the 1980s. There are many visitors who visit the country each year that arrive on the cruise ships that dock at the port. Overall the transport system in the country is not developing as rapidly as the rest of the country and requires large investment to get it back on track.