The tropics are characterized by a variety of atmospheric and oceanic systems dominated by multi-scale interaction processes. This is Part I of a two-part review study on climate and climate variability of the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP). Here, the mean fields of incoming short wave radiation, surface energy fluxes, sea surface temperature, sea level pressure, salinity, wind patterns at 10m height, wind stress curl, precipitation, and evaporation are analyzed and synthetized using available data including that from the last decade. Given the strong interaction between the ETP and Caribbean Sea-Atlantic Ocean, mean field discussions are presented for two different domains, a relatively large domain from 24° S - 36° N and between 129° W - 17° W, and a smaller domain embedding only the Caribbean Sea and the easternmost part of the ETP. Most results on the climate of these two regions can be used as the base line for climate change studies. Interannual variability of tropical cyclones is also investigated over the domain of the latter two basins in the smaller domain. The study is complemented with a short review of some low frequency modes, such as, El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation. Such low-frequency modes are known to modulate regional systems, including tropical cyclone frequency.

Keywords: Cocos Island, Isla del Coco, Eastern Tropical Pacific, Caribbean Sea, climate, tropical cyclones, low frequency modes, shallow meridional circulation.