An important junction on the Inter-American 107 miles (172 km) northwest of San Jose, Canas offers gas stations, banks, a clinic, pharmacies, and small restaurants and hotels. From here travelers can go northeast by paved highway to Tilaran for access to Arenal and other north central destinations. The town (population 17,075) can be a base for day trips into Lomas Barbudal Biological Reserve and/or Palo Verde National Park. About 4 miles (6 km) northwest of Canas is a paved road to Upala, a gateway to the western side of Cano Negro wildlife refuge.

Big ditches in this area are part of the government's ambitious Arenal-Tempisque irrigation project (SENARA) to supply Guanacaste farms with water. By the time the water gets to the lowlands, it has already generated electricity three times: at Arenal, Corobici, and Sandillal hydroelectric plants. The project benefits more than 1,000 farm families, providing water to almost 45,000 acres (18,000 ha) that would otherwise be dry for half the year. Main agricultural crops are rice, sugarcane, sorghum, and cotton; cattle ranching is also important to the economy.

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