San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Bumpy New Map for Sale

A new official raised-relief map of Costa Rica is on sale for the first time in more than 30 years.
In hard plastic with bright colors, the map reflects two main changes since its last edition in 1974: A bridge over the Tempisque River in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, and the expansion of an artificial lake near Arenal Volcano.
It is the brainchild of Ramón Mena, owner of the French Bookstore outside San José, where the map is now on sale. In 2004, Mena signed an agreement with the National Geographic Institute, part of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT), to create the map based on official aerial images of the country.
“It’s beautiful,” said Mena, a topographic engineer who owns some 40 maps of Costa Rica and the world. “It’s something that fills us with satisfaction and pride.”
Mena took out $90,000 in loans to pay for the map, which is one meter long and 70 centimeters wide and made of the hard plastic polyvinyl chloride. Ticophiles – “lovers of Costa Rica” – can buy the map for $90 a piece in stores throughout the country and on the Internet,Mena said.
Some 200 copies will be donated to President Oscar Arias’ cabinet, Costa Rican embassies, libraries and other public figures.
Maps are official here only if the National Geographic Institute approves them. Marta Aguilar, a cartographer at the institute, said some of the nonofficial maps on the market have glaring errors.
“There was one where Poás Volcano appeared close to the border with Panama,” she said, noting that the actual distance is 163 kilometers.

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