Costa Rica ranks 28th in new global biodiversity study

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    A group of data scientists based in San Francisco by lead researcher, Matthew H. Nash, set out on an ambitious project to identify the most biodiverse country in the world. With the acceleration of habitat loss, climate change, overexploitation, and other threats to biodiversity Matthew and his team set out to create a snapshot of the species still present on the planet in 2022. Costa Rica ranked 28th, out of 201 nations just above Japan and just below Angola.

    What is biodiversity?

    Biodiversity is the variety of natural biological species within an area. For this study, the researchers tallied the number of species of birds, amphibians, fish, mammals, reptiles, and plant species per country. They compared the data to the other countries to determine which has the most and least biodiversity. All metrics were given equal weight except for plant species which were given half-weighting due to the inconsistencies in data.

    The most and least biodiverse countries in the world

    Brazil is the most biodiverse country in the world, followed by Indonesia, Colombia, China, and Mexico. Unsurprisingly, some of the most diverse countries in the world also have the largest square kilometer area size, which naturally increases their biodiversity potential. Countries closer to the equator typically have greater species diversity for various factors, including temperature and precipitation.

    Also unsurprisingly, the least biodiverse countries tend to be smaller and farther from the equator. The world’s least biodiverse country is San Marino. This tiny, landlocked country only has one identified amphibian species, one reptile species, and zero fish species to speak of within its borders. Nauru, Tuvalu, Sint Maarten, and Monaco also ranked as some of the least biodiverse countries in the world. This is in large part due to their small size.

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    How Costa Rica ranks

    According to the study, Costa Rica has approximately 843 bird species, 212 amphibian species, 1124 fish species, 240 mammal species, 262 reptile species, and between 10,000 and 11,000 plant species. Anyone who has lived in or visited Costa Rica knows how stunning and varied the geography is, from coastlines to rainforests.

    The fact that the Global Biodiversity Index does not adjust for size makes Costa Rica’s ranking all the more impressive. Geographically speaking, it’s one of the smaller countries in the world, ranking 126th in land area. Costa Rica has managed to pack such an incredible amount of biodiversity in a relatively small country, making it one of the world’s most biologically dense countries per square kilometer.

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    Threats to Costa Rica’s biodiversity

    Deforestation has been and continues to be a considerable threat to Costa Rica’s biodiversity, with over half of its forest land having been cut down by the mid-1980s. The Costa Rican government and citizens have done an impressive job at reforestation, however, even receiving accolades and global recognition for their efforts. Much of the forest cover that was lost has been restored, but there is still more work to be done.

    Tourism is also a biodiversity threat, as a great deal of land and developments are dedicated to appealing to Costa Rica’s 2-3 million tourists per year. Much of the beachfront property has been developed for tourism, with beach resort developments damaging wildlife and foliage. Ecotourism is a booming industry in Costa Rica, but the conversation around conservation in tourism remains an ongoing debate.

    However, the biggest threat to Costa Rica’s biodiversity, like most places worldwide, is climate change. As sea levels rise, Costa Rica’s coastline will be negatively impacted. The average temperature of Costa Rica is also anticipated to increase by 3-6 degrees by 2070.

    Costa Rica’s climate change-induced increase in temperature will inevitably cause more instances of devastating droughts and deadly floods within Costa Rica. It will also cause extinctions within the animal kingdom and loss of plants and vegetation.


    Costa Rica is famous worldwide for its incredible wildlife, beautiful geography, and amazing beaches and forests. To learn more about how Costa Rica ranked in the research study relative to other countries, see the complete article at The Swiftest.
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