Banco Central de Costa Rica


Costa Rica’s ecosystems in the new family of banknotes


Región de Acordeón

Tropical Dry Forest -1000 Colones banknote


In Costa Rica, the tropical dry forest is found in the lowlands, from 0-700 meters above sea level (MASL), in the Guanacaste province and in the northern part of the Puntarenas province, in the surroundings of River Tarcoles. This ecosystem changes gradually toward the south, as climate conditions there favor the tropical rainforest.


A marked dry season, stretching from November to March, is the main factor conditioning species adaptations in tropical dry forests, e.g. leaf falling to reduce water loss, animal migration toward wetter zones, and an abundance of cacti. During the rainy season the loss of humidity is intensified by heavy trade winds, thereby favoring dispersal of certain seeds. 


During the rainy season, the dry forest receives 900-1700 mm of rainfall annually. With the arrival of rains, the forest changes radically: with an increase in humidity, leaves come out and forests are covered with green, there is less light available within them, and many seeds sprout.


Animals that had moved away in search of water and food come back for breeding. Birds sing while building their nests, indicating that the time has come to nest and raise their chicks.


Fauna in these forests is as rich as its flora. It is home to howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white-headed capuchins, deer, coatis, peccaries, Desmarest's spiny pocket mice, Central American agoutis, cougars, armadillos, magpies, trogons, parrots, and a great diversity of insects and spiders, among other groups.



Source: INBioparque

Coral Reef / 2000 colones banknote


In Costa Rica there are both live and fossil coral reefs of different ages and in different parts of the territory. Along the Caribbean Coast, they may be found in Moín, Limon, Uvita Island, Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo, and Punta Mona. On the Pacific coast, they are found mainly in Bahía Culebra, Pelona Islands, Sámara, Dominical, Punta Mala, Gulf of Dulce, Caño Island, Cocos Island, as well as Ballena Marine National Park- the first national park of its kind created in Costa Rica and Central America.


These ecosystems are found in coastal zones. Their waters are clear, warm (73º-82ºF), and shallow (less than 45 m BSL.) Coral reefs need stable surfaces like rocks to become adhered. They may be found near the beach, up until 1 mile off the coast.  They are among the most diverse, productive, and beautiful ecosystems in the world.


With their rich colors and corals, fish, and all other organisms living around them, coral reefs may be viewed as true water gardens.


Corals adhere to the rocks or to the remains of dead corals deposited on the floor bottom for hundreds or thousands of years. They are true mountain ranges of limestone. Corals are made up of small invertebrate animals called polyps. Polyps usually live in colonies, and their tentacles have stinging cells to catch their pray.



Coral reefs have an important role in protecting beaches from waves, as well as in the constant production of sand. Some soft corals have been used with medicinal purposes. This ecosystem is highly attractive to tourists.



Source: INBioparque

Mangrove - 5000 Colones Banknote


On Costa Rica’s Pacific coast mangroves are located mainly in the mouths of rivers Tempisque, Bebedero, Tarcoles, Térraba, and Sierpe; in the gulfs of Papagago, Nicoya, and Dulce; and in the bays of Santa Elena, Salinas, Tamarindo, and Herradura. On the Caribbean coast they are located in Moin, and in the pond/lake* of Gandoca.  Mangroves make up for nearly 1 percent of the country’s territory. During the high tide, these forests are flooded with salt water. In mangroves located on river mouths water is less saline, as it is mixed with fresh water.


A great diversity of species found in mangroves is a result of the fact that in these ecosystems there is a high production of organic matter and there are different environments, which are the result of variations in salinity. These coastal forests are used by huge amounts of sea animals to lay their eggs, feed, and grow, and they also provide shelter and food to significant amounts of birds, mammals, and insects.


In Costa Rica there are several mangrove species, with common names such as red mangrove, silver-leaved buttonwood, black mangrove, and white mangrove, and button mangrove. Shells, crabs, snails, as well as shrimp and fish larvae inhabit their leaves, creating highly complex communities. On their treetops live countless birds such as herons, snakes, white-headed capuchins, raccoons, lizards, and bats. There are also countless crickets, mosquitoes, biting flies, spiders, and scorpions.



Source: INBioparque

Tropical Rainforest / 10.000 Colones


The tropical rainforest is one of the world’s most diverse and exuberant ecosystems. In Costa Rica it used to cover the largest share of the territory, as it may be found in lowlands -up to 700 MASL, and in heavily rainy places like the Central and Southern Pacific Zones, the Northern Zone, and the Caribbean. Due to extensive deforestation towards the end of the past century, rainforests are today highly fragmented, and their largest remainders are protected as national parks and biological reserves.


This is a complex and dense ecosystem, with trees as high as 130-180 feet. Trees usually have an umbrella-like shape with wide crowns and long trunks, quite often with high, smooth, and slender buttress roots.


This forest is more diverse in terms of plants and animals per unit than any other type of forest. More animal species may be found in one single tree of a tropical rainforest than in an entire forest in a higher altitude. Various forms of animal and plant life live in a great variety of specialized environments located in different forest strata.



Source: INBioparque

Paramo - 20000 colones Banknote


Paramos are ecosystems with a varied mountainous, herbaceous vegetation. They usually have no trees -and if they are found, they are small, dense, and isolated from each other-   and are located in cold, inhospitable, rainy places. In Costa Rica they are found mainly on the country’s highest peaks, above 2.800 MASL, in the mountains of Chirripó, Kámuk and La Muerte (Buenavista and Vueltas, in the Talamanca Mountain Range.) They are also found at the tops of Irazu and Turrialba volcanoes, in the Central Mountain Range.


Rainfall is abundant -2.000-4.000 mm per year. Rains are not evenly distributed throughout the year. The rainiest month is October, and the driest months are February and March. Because of their location, ultraviolet rays are high, though they are reduced with cloud formation. Paramo temperatures range from  35°-86°F, occasionally dipping below zero in the early morning , with fluctuations of up to 80ºF between the minimum and the maximum temperatures in one single day.


Vegetation consists mainly of herbs and small-leave shrubs. Dwarf bamboos such as chusquea are abundant, as well as various types of grass and ferns. Small swamps called bogs, which consist mainly of partially decaying plant matter, are formed in poorly drained areas.


Paramos are inhabited by various species of insects and spiders, along with some mammals such as rabbits and coyotes, two lizard species, one salamander species, and some highly common birds such as Vulcano Hummingbirds, Juncos, Sooty Robins, Blackbirds, and Rufous Collared Sparrows. There are no fish, despite an abundance of lakes and creeks. Some animals lower their metabolism to the point of not moving until there is enough sunlight. Visits of some mammals such as red brockets, pumas, and ocelots.



Source: INBioparque

Tropical cloud forest/ 50.000 Colones Banknote


Costa Rica’s tropical cloud forests are found on the high parts of mountains forming mountain ranges, in the main peaks on the Osa Peninsula, and in Cocos Island, in altitudes ranging from 500-3500 MASL. They are characterized by a persistent presence of clouds or fog, thereby favoring heavy rainfall, low temperatures, and little sun rays.


Trees in the tropical cloud forest are characterized by their relatively small size, having twisted branches, small and hard leaves, and by being densely covered with moss and epiphytes (Hamilton et al. 1995). The forest floor is characterized by the presence of bamboo, ferns, and because it is covered with organic matter in decay.


Cloud forests are home to birds such as the Resplendent Quetzal, the Bell Bird, eagles, Emerald Toucanettes, a huge variety of hummingbirds, and pollinator bats. Other common mammals are howler monkeys, olingos, gray foxes, sloths, anteaters, jaguars, pumas, armadillos, and so forth.



The cloud forest used to be home to the Golden Toad, a species now considered to be extinct possibly due to global warming. Cloud forests are a priority in terms of the country’s conservation efforts, especially because of their importance for aquifer recharge.



Source: INBioparque



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