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Monteverde will become Costa Rica’s 83rd canton

Monteverde will become Costa Rica’s newest canton after lawmakers voted in favor of the designation.

Law project 21.618, which will convert Monteverde into Costa Rica’s eighty-third canton, received 49 votes in favor and none opposed Wednesday during a second debate in the Legislative Assembly.

“Local development and decentralization processes have been a vital part of the National Tourism Development Plan, so we are sure that working together with the new local government will be of great benefit to the region,” the Costa Rica Tourism Board said in a statement

Currently, the tourist-heavy region resides in the central canton of Puntarenas, complicating administrative procedures due to the distance between the two locations.

Deputy Carmen Chan says the cantonal designation will strengthen municipal autonomy and allow Monteverde to improve the planning and investment of resources.

“The initiative summarizes the need and will of a community to become a canton,” Chan said.

“The project will contribute to addressing problems of order, planning and infrastructure and will make possible the urban development that Monteverde requires as a tourist destination.”

Authorities also believe creating Monteverde canton would “contribute to the development of the region and the improvement of the quality of life and general well-being of its inhabitants,” Chan said.

Monteverde, one of Costa Rica’s most-visited locations, hopes to continue its growth as a sustainable tourism destination.

As part of that development, the 17-kilometer portion of Route 606 between Guacimal and Santa Elena/Cerro Plano/Monteverde was finally paved.

As Guillermo Vargas, President of the Monteverde Chamber of Tourism, explained in early 2020, a visitor’s car will is no longer a barrier to access Monteverde and its famous cloud forests.

Here are the developments being planned in Monteverde, according to local tourism authorities:

  • Hiking: Expand, improve and develop the network of trails in the community of San Luis. These are part of the Pacific Slope Trail network.
  • Training: Provide tourism guides and environmental educators the opportunity to receive high-level training that allows them to instruct and inspire visitors.
  • Parking: Create a parking area in Santa Elena to alleviate road congestion.
  • Regulating: Perform technical and legal studies to identify standards to partially regulate some areas of growth.
  • Conserving: Establish a comprehensive sanitation system focused on the recovery of resources such as water, energy and nutrients for local use.

Monteverde is located on the western slope of the Tilarán mountain range. It’s famous for its diversity of flora and fauna, much of it found within cloud forest.

The modern community was established in the 1950s by Quakers from Alabama who emigrated from the United States in opposition to the country’s involvement in World War II. After purchasing a large swath of land on their “Green Mountain,” the Friends founded the Monteverde Cheese Factory and later the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Between 2016-18, ecotourism was a primary reason for travel for the majority of international visitors to Costa Rica, according to ICT.  Pre-pandemic, tens of thousands of people visited Monteverde each year.

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