Tempisque-Bebedero Basin (Cost Rica)

Socioeconomic Development

The Guanacaste region in northern Costa Rica has long been an important bridge in Central America for imports and exports of particularly agricultural products. Historically, the main rivers (Tempisque and Bebedero) were used for transportation dating back to pre-Colombian times (Chorotega, Corobici and Aztecan native people inhabited the region). During colonial times, the region, which coincides to almost 40% with the Tempisque-Bebedero catchment system (Map 1) was transformed into a large-scale, hacienda-type cattle farming area. Such a development was based on the deforestation of mainly tropical dry forests and subsequent conversion into pasture in the lower parts of the catchment system.

More recent land use transformations mainly since the 1950s have seen an expanding crop production, such as rice, sugar, beans, melon and to a lesser extent coffee (~940km2 of cropland area in 2010 or 28% catchment area). In 2015, 326,953 inhabitants lived in the province of Guanacaste (4,757,606 total or ~7% of the Costa Rican population), which is mainly conformed of rural communities apart from the province capitol Liberia (~57,000 inhabitants) also located within the catchment. The average population density of 32.2 hab/km2 is low compared to the national average of 84.2 hab/km2. The Human Development Index (HDI) for Costa Rica increased from 0.605 in 1980 (50th world ranking) to 0.766 in 2014 (69th world ranking). The Guanacaste province averages an HDI of 0.768 in 2015 with the district of Liberia exhibiting an HDI among the highest of the country (0.839) stating a relatively high quality of life with access to education, health services and economic resources.


References and further reading:

Fondo Nacional de Financiamiento Forestal FONAFIFO (2012) Estudio de cobertura forestal de Costa Rica 2009-2010.

Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos, INEC (2014) VI Censo Nacional Agropecuario.

Magaña, V., Amador, J.A., and Medina, S. (1999) The midsummer drought over Mexico and Central America. J. Climate, 12 (1967): 1577-1588, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/1520-0442 (1999)012<1577:TMDOMA>2.0.CO;2.

Peel, M. C., Finlayson, B. L., and McMahon, T. A. (2007) Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 1633-1644, doi:10.5194/hess-11-1633-2007.

Tecnológico de Costa Rica, TEC (2014) Altas de Costa Rica.

Waylen, M.E. (1996) Interannual variability of monthly precipitation in Costa Rica. J. Climate, 9: 2606-2613, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/1520-0442(1996)009<2606:IVOMPI>2.0.CO;2.

WorldClim global product: http://www.worldclim.org/tiles.php?Zone=23

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