A NEW MODEL FOR
BOOK OF MORMON GEOGRAPHY
By James Lee Warr
The Narrow Strip of Wilderness.
The Nephite and Lamanite lands were separated by a narrow strip of wilderness (Alma 22:27) which ran from the sea on the east to the sea on the west, and which was to the south of the greater land of Zarahemla. It was also to the south of such border cities as Manti, Moroni and Nephihah. It is difficult to quantify "narrow", but in reference to the narrow neck of land, it was a days journey across. Perhaps the strip of wilderness would be about the same width. It was not impenatrable as the Lamanites crossed it and journeyed through it on a regular basis. It was apparently not inhabited. The Book of Mormon does not describe in any detail the nature of this wilderness, but it does seem to serve as a barrier of sorts between the two areas.
In line with my proposal of the land of Zarahemla being in central Costa Rica, and the land of Nephi being in southeastern Costa Rica and western Panama, I believe that the Talamancan Mountain chain forms this separating wilderness and barrier. This mountain chain runs northwest-southeast forming the southern spine of the country, but its north end abuts the Central Valley south of San Jose, and forms an east-west front which rises steeply from the valley floor at about 6000 ft. elevation, to an approximate height of 11,000 ft. at the summit. This front has east and west spurs which taper down to sea level on both the east and west coasts. This front catches much of the rainfall coming inland from the Caribbean and is covered with dense rainforest which tends to be impenetrable because of the mass of trees, vines and undergrowth. Most travel is restricted to established paths, trails and roads. As far as I have been able to determine there were only 4 or 5 ancient trails which crossed this barrier.