North Pacific Coast Feature

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More Texan than Tropical

Guanacaste, Costa Rica's "Wild West," looks different from the rest of Costa Rica. It was originally covered in dry tropical forests, but beginning in early colonial times, and then picking up speed in the 1950s (when cattle ranching became big business), the dry forest was cleared to create vast cattle ranges. Harder-to-access forests covering the volcanic slopes survived. The resulting flat, sunbaked landscape makes the inland parts of the province look a little like the American Southwest. Cowboy culture still takes center stage during seasonal fiestas and a few rodeos. But these days more and more sabaneros (cowboys) have traded in their horses for pickup trucks.

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