The Central Valley region of Costa Rica is in fact a large mountain plateau sheltered on the southern side by the Talamanca Range and to the north by a string of active volcanoes. This region's elevated position supplies a more temperate climate, making it a welcome retreat from the summer humidity.
The capital city of San Jose benefits from this climate and owes much of its prosperity to the surrounding landscape's success as a coffee-growing centre. The wealth brought by coffee has contributed to the growing infrastructure of the Central Valley, creating a modern, urban feel to the cities here.
This is Costa Rica at its most low-key and travellers who linger here to visit the hot springs at Cartago or witness smoke belching from Turrialba volcano can escape the crowds for a time before journeying onto the busier costal regions of Puerto Viejo and Limon.