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Monteverde is Costa Rica’s newest canton

Monteverde has become Costa Rica’s 83rd and newest canton after lawmakers voted in favor of the designation. President Carlos Alvarado signed the bill into law on Wednesday.

“With a unique biodiversity in the country, Monteverde is a prosperous and peaceful area, of high tourist attraction, whose inhabitants have known how to develop sustainable economic activities, protecting and caring for their natural resources,” said President Carlos Alvarado at a signing ceremony.

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

“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,” said the Costa Rica Tourism Board, which supported the new designation.

As part of the transition process, the new Municipality of Monteverde must be inscribed into the National Registry. The Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) will prepare for the first municipal elections, slated for February 2024. And the Municipality of Puntarenas will transfer resources to the new local government.

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

“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,” she said, adding the change will “contribute to the development of the region and the improvement of the quality of life and general well-being of its inhabitants.”

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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