San José (literally meaning "Saint Joseph", pronounced [saŋ
hoˈse]) is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica. Located in the
mid-west of the Central Valley, San José is the seat of national
government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and
the major transportation hub of this Central American nation. The
San José Canton
San José Canton was 288,054 in 2011, and San
José’s municipal land area measures 44.2 square kilometers (17.2
square miles), and an estimated 333,980 residents in 2015. The
metropolitan area stretches beyond the canton limits and has an
estimated population of over 2 million in 2017. The city is named
in honor of Joseph of Nazareth.
Though few people live in the city center, it is the most important
working area of the country, which brings in more than a million
people daily. Despite its problems, according to studies in Latin
America, San José is still one of the safest and least violent cities
in the region. In 2006, the city was appointed Ibero-American
Capital of Culture.
San José is the sixth-most important destination in
according to The MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index 2012. San
José ranked 15th in the world’s fastest-growing destination cities
by visitor cross-border spending.
9 Major landmarks
9.1 Theaters and auditoriums
9.3 Parks, plazas, and zoos
9.3.1 Parks and zoos
10 International relations
10.1 Twin towns – sister cities
11 Notable people
14 External links
See also: Timeline of San José, Costa Rica
The population grew during the eighteenth-century colonial planning,
which was different from the traditional foundation plans of Spanish
cities in the continent.
Founded in 1738 by order of Cabildo de León, its objective was to
concentrate the scattered inhabitants of the Aserrí Valley. To do so,
the construction of a chapel near the area known as La Boca del Monte
was ordered; this was completed two years later. That year St. Joseph
was chosen as parish patron, hence its current name. The chapel, which
was very modest, was erected with help from the church of Cartago.
San José had water problems, and that was one of the main reasons
that the population grew slowly. However, the water supply was assured
by ditches, and the fertility of the surrounding fields along with the
installation of the Tobacco Factory of Costa Rica, which would aid
As San José, unlike what happened to Cartago, was not founded with a
formal act of foundation, it was not considered as a city or town, and
consequently the city lacked a city government. It was not until the
enactment of the Constitution of Cádiz in 1812 when San José had its
first city government. In 1813, the Spanish parliament gave the town
the title of city, which was then lost in 1814 when Ferdinand VII of
Spain annulled the proceedings by the courts. The municipal government
was restored in 1820 with the title of city population.
San José is one of the youngest capital cities in
Latin America by
year of conception, though it was not named capital until 1823. The
first modern urban neighborhood carries the name of his founder, the
French coffee entrepreneur Monsieur Amon, and was created in the late
19th century, in line with
Belle Époque contemporary architecture.
Barrio Amon, as well as the National Theatre remain symbols of
Costa Rican coffee golden age.
Today San José is a modern city with bustling commerce and brisk
expressions of art and architecture. Spurred by the country's improved
tourism industry, it is a significant destination and stopover for
San José exerts a strong influence because of its proximity to other
cities (Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago) and the country's demographic
assemblage in the Central Valley.
Costa Rica has developed high literacy rates and education levels.
Most of the nation's people are literate, know the basics of
arithmetic, and many have high-school level diplomas. The country as a
whole has the best education levels of all the Central American
nations, and one of the best in
Latin America. This is especially true
for this city, San José, which is the nation's educational hub, being
home to many institutions; including public and around 51 private
University of Santo Tomas, the first university of
Costa Rica was
established here in 1843. That institution maintained close ties with
the Roman Catholic Church and was closed in 1888 by the progressive
and anti-clerical government of President Bernardo Soto Alfaro as part
of a campaign to modernize public education. The schools of law,
agronomy, fine arts, and pharmacy continued to operate independently,
Costa Rica had no university proper until 1940, when those four
schools were re-united to establish the modern University of Costa
Rica (UCR), during the reformist administration of President Rafael
Ángel Calderón Guardia.
The city's public education system is composed of pre-schools,
elementary and high schools (from grades 7 to 11), which are located
in all of the city's districts and are under the supervision of the
Ministry of Public Education. Nevertheless, private institutions do
exist within the city. These educational institutions range from
pre-schools to universities. Most tend to be bilingual, teaching
subjects in either French or English and Spanish, among other
languages, apart from just teaching a certain language.
San José is one of
Latin America's safest cities. As of 19 June 2012,
both the city and nation reduced their crime indices
considerably.[timeframe?] Nationwide, crime was reduced from 12.5 to
9.5 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants.
In 2012, new police equipment was issued by the government, and the
security budget was increased. President Laura Chinchilla's government
has donated vehicles and other equipment to the police department on
at least two occasions.
The city's greater metropolitan area (in Los Yoses, San Pedro) also
serves as the headquarters of the Inter-American Court of Human
San José is divided into 11 districts (distritos): Catedral, Carmen,
Hatillo, Hospital, Uruca, Mata Redonda, Merced, Pavas, San Francisco
de Dos Ríos, San Sebastián, Zapote. The districts are divided up
into a number of neighborhoods (local name: "barrios").
San José has several internal transportation networks that connect
the city districts and metropolitan area; as well as national
transportation networks that connect the city to other parts of Costa
San José is currently undergoing modernization in transportation. The
current mayor, Johnny" Boss Tweed" Araya, has announced the
establishment of an urban tramway system that will, in its first
phase, cover the central core of the city going from west to east.
This entire plan was announced and publicly presented on February 2011
by the city mayor and Costa Rican President, Laura Chinchilla.
On 27 September 2012, San José disclosed plans to install its first
street signs, about 22,000 signs and plaques. It is estimated that the
lack of proper street names for directions causes the loss of $720
million a year by the Inter-American Development Bank in 2008, due to
undelivered, returned or re-sent mail.
Private bus companies connect different areas of the city with each
other and the suburbs. Services to other parts of the country are
provided by other private companies which have stations or stops
spread all over the city centre. There are also bus services between
Juan Santamaría International Airport
Juan Santamaría International Airport and downtown San José.
The Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles, or the state owned
railway institute, is in charge of all of Costa Rica's railways. In
2004, this institution began work on the establishment of an
inter-urban railway network. This network would connect Tibás,
Heredia, San Antonio de Belén, Pavas, San Pedro de Montes de Oca,
Sabanilla, and Curridabat, among other locations.
There are current plans to expand this inter-urban railway system into
Cartago, Alajuela, and the Juan Santamaría International Airport.
Trains run to Heredia from Estación Atlantico and San Antonio de
Belen and from Estación Pacifico.
San José public taxi services complement the urban transportation
network. Taxis are characterized by their red color and belong to
registered cooperatives. There are other taxi services which do not
belong to the registered system, there are also taxis from the airport
that are usually orange.
The car-sharing company Uber has entered Costa Rica, but the
government has stated that is allowed to operate. Despite repeated
clashes with and strikes from taxi drivers due to unfair competition
claims, the company has continued to operate in the country.
The city is serviced by
Juan Santamaría International Airport
Juan Santamaría International Airport (IATA:
SJO, ICAO: MROC), 23 km (14 mi) west of downtown, in the
city of Alajuela, which is one of the busiest airports in Central
America. In 2010,
Juan Santamaría International Airport
Juan Santamaría International Airport received 4.3
million passengers, most of them from international flights. In 2011,
the airport was named the 3rd Best Airport in
from the Airport Service Quality Awards by Airports Council
The airport is undergoing a modernization plan, which is expected to
be brief. The previous remodeling done to the airport cost around $7
Another important airport in San José is Tobías Bolaños
International Airport (IATA: SYQ, ICAO: MRPV). It is located 8 km
(5 mi) north-east of the city proper and 11 km (7 mi)
south-east of Juan Santamaría International Airport.
The city's major football club is Deportivo Saprissa, who won a record
33 league titles. They play their home games at the Estadio Ricardo
Saprissa Aymá, which is located in Tibas. Another top-level club,
Universidad, play at the Estadio Ecológio.
Main article: Costa Rican cuisine
Costa Rican cuisine
Costa Rican cuisine (comida típica) is generally not spicy.
Throughout San José, the most popular food is the national dish of
gallo pinto, which is a mixture of fried rice and black beans. Gallo
pinto is usually served for breakfast with tortillas and natilla, a
thin sour cream. Costa Rican restaurants serving traditional food at
an affordable price are called sodas and usually offer casados for
lunch and dinner. A casado (which means "married" in Spanish) consists
of rice, beans, and meat, and normally comes with cabbage-and-tomato
salad, fried plantains, and/or tortillas. San José Central
Market, in downtown San José, has numerous stalls and sodas.
San José has a tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen climate
Precipitation varies widely between the driest
month (6.3 mm (0.25 in)) and the wettest month
(355.1 mm (13.98 in)), while average temperatures vary
little. The hottest month is April with an average temperature of
23.7 °C (74.7 °F), while the coolest month is October with
an average temperature of 21.8 °C (71.2 °F).
Climate data for San José,
Costa Rica (Juan Santamaría International
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source #1: Deutscher Wetterdienst
Source #2: NOAA (sun 1961–1990)
San José skyline with mountains in the background
Plaza de la Cultura
National Museum of Costa Rica
Theaters and auditoriums
San José has many beautiful theaters, many with European-inspired
architecture. These buildings serve as the city's main tourist
attractions, not only because of the architectural beauty, but because
of the numerous cultural, musical, and artistic presentations and
activities, which include traditional and modern Costa Rican and San
The most well-known are:
The National Theater of
Costa Rica (Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica).
The Melico Salazar Theater (Teatro Popular Melico Salazar).
The National Auditorium of The Children's Museum of
Costa Rica (Museo
de los Niños).
The National Theater of
Costa Rica (considered the finest historic
building in the capital and known for its exquisite interior which
includes its lavish Italian furnishings) and the Melico Salazar
Theater present drama, dance performances and concerts throughout the
year. Nevertheless, other 'smaller' theaters can be found throughout
the city and provide a large array of entertainment.
Teatro Variedades is San José's oldest theater.
See also: List of museums in Costa Rica
San José is also host to various museums. These museums allow
visitors to view Costa Rican history, scientific discoveries,
pre-Columbian era culture and art, as well as modern Costa Rican art.
The city is also host to the nation's museum of gold and museum of
Some of the city's main museums are:
The Children's Museum (Museo de los Niños)
The National Museum of
Costa Rica (Museo Nacional de Costa Rica)
The Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold (Museo de Oro Precolombino)
The Museum of Costa Rican Art
Museum of Contemporary Art and Design
Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (Museo de Arte y Diseño
The Museum of Jade (Museo del Jade Marco Fidel Tristán Castro)
Parks, plazas, and zoos
San José is home to many parks and squares (plazas in Spanish); where
one can find gazebos, open green areas, recreational areas, lakes,
fountains, statues and sculptures by Costa Rican artists and many
different bird, tree and plant species.
Parks and zoos
The city's primary parks include:
The National Park (Parque Nacional)
Morazán Park (Parque Morazán) — with Neoclassical Temple of Music
(Templo de la Música) pavilion
La Sabana Metropolitan Park
La Sabana Metropolitan Park (Parque Metropolitano La Sabana) —
largest park and "the lungs of San José," in Mata Redonda District
Peace Park (Parque de la Paz)
Okayama Park (Parque Okayama) — Japanese style garden and
architectural elements, ornamental ponds, and garden sculptures
Simón Bolívar Zoo — the city's only zoo, with a large variety of
native Costa Rican and exotic animals and plant species
Plazas, or town squares, are very prominent across San José's
Culture Square — La
Plaza de La Cultura (one example)
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Costa Rica
Twin towns – sister cities
San José is twinned with:
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Florida (United States)
McAllen, Texas, (United States)
San Jose, California
San Jose, California (United States)
Kfar Saba, Israel
Mexico City, Mexico
Ahuachapán, El Salvador
Guatemala City, Guatemala
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
This is an alphabetical list of notable people who were born in or
have lived in San José.
Manuel Aguilar Chacón, former head of state of Costa Rica
Randall Arauz, environmentalist
Randall Azofeifa, football player for Herediano
Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia, former president of Costa Rica
Daniel Cambronero, goalkeeper
Joel Campbell, football player for Arsenal F.C.
Laura Chinchilla, former president of Costa Rica
Jens Hoffmann, writer and art curator
Eunice Odio, writer
Virginia Pérez-Ratton, fine artist
Daniel Zovatto, American actor
Alex Curling Delisser, senator, human rights
activist[better source needed]
^ "Demographia World Urban Areas PDF (March 2013)". Instituto Nacional
de Censos de Costa Rica. Archived from the original on 20 November
2015. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
^ "Índice de Desarrollo Humano Cantonal 2013" (PDF) (in Spanish). 25
June 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
^ Conrad, Peter (23 November 2012). "Interest activities to do in San
Jose, Costa Rica". TravelExcellence.com.
Costa Rica still one of the safest places in
Latin America". The
Costa Rica News. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
^ "San Jose
Costa Rica is the sixth most important destination in
Latin America". The
Costa Rica News. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 8 July
^ History of San José,
Costa Rica Archived 3 March 2012 at the
Wayback Machine., by Spanish Abroad, Inc. Archived 17 August 2007 at
the Wayback Machine.
^ "San José, city, Costa Rica".
^ In San José, Costa Rica, effective metropolitan planning and
selective infrastructure investment can improve the quality of life
for the poor, by Rosendo Pujol, researcher of ProDUS on the World Bank
Urban Research Symposium in Brasilia, Brasil, 4–6 April 2005
^ "Universidades de San José (Privadas y Públicas)". Altillo.com.
Retrieved 8 July 2013.
^ "CHINA DONA 200 PATRULLAS CON GARANTÍA DE REPUESTOS".
Prensalibre.cr. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013.
Retrieved 8 July 2013.
^ Cota, Isabella. "San Jose,
Costa Rica to install its first street
signs". Yahoo News. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
^ Horario de Tren, www.horariodetren.com. "Urban Train in Costa Rica".
Horariodetren.com. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
^ "ASQ Award for Best Airport in
Latin America - Caribbean" Airports
Council International. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2012
^ "Costa Rica: Cuisine". Globalgourmet.com. Retrieved 8 July
^ "CHAPTER 7: Introduction to the Atmosphere". PhysicalGeography.net.
Retrieved September 17, 2016.
^ "The Climate of Tropical Regions". The British Geographer. Retrieved
September 17, 2016.
^ "Klimatafel von San José (Int. Flugh.) / Costa Rica" (PDF). Federal
Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Retrieved September
^ "Juan Santamaria Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
^ Baker, C.P. (2005). Costa Rica.
Dorling Kindersley Eye Witness
Travel Guides. p. 60.
^ Patrimonio Nacional
^ "Sister Cities, Public Relations".
Guadalajara municipal government.
Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March
^ es:Alex Curling Delisser
See also: Bibliography of the history of San José, Costa Rica
Wikimedia Commons has media related to San José, Costa Rica.
Costa Rica travel guide from Wikivoyage
Municipalidad de San José: office of the
Mayor of San José
"San José de Costa Rica". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.).
"San José. The capital of Costa Rica". New International
Provincial capitals of Costa Rica
Capitals of North America
Dependent territories are in italics
Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis
Castries, St. Lucia
Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands
Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands (US)
Cockburn Town, Turks and Caicos (UK)
George Town, Cayman Islands
George Town, Cayman Islands (UK)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Gustavia, St. Barthélemy (France)
Hamilton, Bermuda (UK)
Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Marigot, St. Martin (France)
Mexico City, Mexico
Nassau, The Bahamas
Oranjestad, Aruba (Netherlands)
Oranjestad, Sint Eustatius
Oranjestad, Sint Eustatius (Netherlands)
Panama City, Panama
Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Philipsburg, Sint Maarten (Netherlands)
Plymouth (de jure) •
Brades (de facto),
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands (UK)
Saint-Pierre, St. Pierre and Miquelon (France)
San José, Costa Rica
San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico (US)
San Salvador, El Salvador
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
St. George's, Grenada
St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda
The Valley, Anguilla
The Valley, Anguilla (UK)
Washington, D.C., United States
Provinces and cantons of Costa Rica
Montes de Oro
Montes de Oca