San José, Costa Rica

History | Districts | Education | Security | Theaters and auditoriums | Museums | Parks | Zoo | Plazas | Transport | Buses | Train | Taxis | Transport : Air | Cuisine | Sport

🇨🇷 San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and the capital of the province of the same name. It is in the centre of the country, in the mid-west of the Central Valley, within San José Canton. San José is Costa Rica's seat of national government, focal point of political and economic activity, and major transportation hub. Together with several other cantons of the central valley, including Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago, it forms the country's Greater Metropolitan Area. The city is named in honour of Joseph of Nazareth.

Founded in 1736 by order of Cabildo de León, the population of San José rose during the 18th century through the use of colonial planning. It has historically been a city of strategic importance, having been the capital of Costa Rica three times. More than a million people pass through it daily. It is home to the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, the National Theatre of Costa Rica, and La Sabana Metropolitan Park. Juan Santamaría International Airport serves the city.

San José is notable among Latin American cities for its high quality of life, security, level of globalization, environmental performance, public service, and recognised institutions. According to studies on Latin America, San José is one of the safest and least violent cities in the region. In 2006, the city was appointed Ibero-American Capital of Culture. According to The MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index 2012, San José is the sixth-most visited destination in Latin America, ranking first in Central America. San José ranked 15th in the world's fastest-growing destination cities by visitor cross-border spending.


History The population of San José grew during the eighteenth-century colonization planning, which was different from the traditional foundation plans of Spanish cities in the continent of Central America.

Founded in 1736 by order of Cabildo de León, its objective was to concentrate the scattered inhabitants of the Aserrí Valley. De León thus ordered the construction of a chapel near the area known as La Boca del Monte which was completed a year later. That year St. Joseph was chosen as parish patron, hence its name. The chapel, which was very modest, was erected with help from the church of Cartago.

Unlike neighboring Cartago, San José was not founded by formal decree and thus lacked a city government. It was not until the enactment of the Constitution of Cádiz in 1812 that San José had its first city government. On 18 October 1813, the area was first defined as a city by presbyter Florencio del Castillo, on behalf of the Spanish government, a title which was then lost in 1814 when Ferdinand VII of Spain annulled the proceedings of the courts. The municipal government was restored in 1820 along with the title of city and in 1823 San José became the capital of Costa Rica. This makes San José one of the youngest capital cities in Latin America by year of conception.

Population and economic growth were spurred by improvements in access to water and the installment of the Tobacco Factory in 1782. The accumulation of capital brought by tobacco plantations allowed the city to economically surpass neighboring provinces.

The first modern urban neighborhood carries the name of its 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 the so-called 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 foreign visitors.

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.


Districts The borders of San José city, as defined in the Administrative Territorial Division and stipulated in the Executive Decree 11562 of 27 May 1980, assign the borders of San José canton except an East sector of Uruca district. Therefore the city is composed of the totality of the districts of Carmen, Merced, Hospital, Catedral, Zapote, San Francisco de Dos Ríos, Mata Redonda, Pavas, Hatillo, San Sebastián and partially of Uruca district.


Education Costa Rica has developed high education levels. As of 2011 97.6% of the population over 10 was literate, 96% of children aged 6–11 attend primary school and 71% of students of high-school age attend high-school. The country as a whole has the highest education levels in Central America and one of the best in Latin America. This is especially true for San José, the nation's educational hub home to a large number of public and private universities.

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, but 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 University for Peace, an intergovernmental organization with university status, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1980, is located in San José.


Security San José is one of Latin America's safest cities. As of 19 June 2012, both 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 Rights.


Theaters and auditoriums San José has a number of theaters, many with European-inspired architecture. These buildings serve as the city's main tourist attractions, not only because of their architecture, but because of the cultural, musical, and artistic presentations and activities, which include traditional and modern Costa Rican and San Josefinan culture.

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.

El Teatro Variedades (1892) is San José's oldest theater.


Museums 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 jade.

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 • The Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo) • The Museum of Jade (Museo del Jade Marco Fidel Tristán Castro)


Parks 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.

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 (Parque Metropolitano La Sabana) — largest park and "the lungs of San José", in Mata Redonda District (west city) • Peace Park (Parque de la Paz) • Okayama Park (Parque Okayama) — Japanese style garden and architectural elements, ornamental ponds, and garden sculptures


Zoo • Simón Bolívar Zoo — the city's only zoo, with a large variety of native Costa Rican and exotic animals and plant species


Plazas Plazas, or town squares, are very prominent across San José's districts. • Plaza de la Democracia • Culture Square — La Plaza de La Cultura


Transport 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 Rica.

San José is undergoing modernization in transportation. The mayor, Johnny 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 in 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.


Buses 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 center. There are also bus services between Juan Santamaría International Airport and downtown San José.


Train 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 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.


Taxis 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 is active in Costa Rica and, despite repeated clashes with and strikes by taxi drivers protesting unfair competition, continues to operate in the country.


Transport: Air The city is serviced by 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 received 4.3 million passengers, most of them from international flights. In 2011, the airport was named the 3rd Best Airport in Latin America/Caribbean from the Airport Service Quality Awards by Airports Council International.

The airport is undergoing a modernization plan, which is expected to be brief. The previous remodeling done to the airport cost around $7 million.

Another important airport in San José is Tobías Bolaños International Airport (IATA: SYQ, ICAO: MRPV). It is located 8 km (5 mi) north-west of the city proper and 11 km (7 mi) south-east of Juan Santamaría International Airport.


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.


Sport The city's major football club is Deportivo Saprissa, which has won a record 36 league titles. The team plays its home games at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá, which is located in Tibas. Another top-level club, Universidad, plays at the Estadio Ecológico.

San José hosted the 2015 FIBA COCABA Championship, where the Costa Rica national basketball team finished 2nd. Playground was the Gimnasio Nacional.

Costa Rica Time 
Costa Rica Time
Image: Adobe Stock Gian #226932813

San José is rated Beta − by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) which evaluates and ranks the relationships between world cities in the context of globalisation. Beta level cities are cities that link moderate economic regions to the world economy.

San José is ranked #162 and rated D+ by the Global Urban Competitiveness Report (GUCR) which evaluates and ranks world cities in the context of economic competitiveness. D+ cities are strong regional hub cities. San José was ranked #584 by the Nomad List which evaluates and ranks remote work hubs by cost, internet, fun and safety. San José has a population of over 342,200 people. San José also forms part of the Greater San José metropolitan area which has a population of over 2,200,000 people. San José is ranked #333 for startups with a score of 0.738.

To set up a UBI Lab for San José see: Twitter:

San José is a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for Design see:

Twin Towns, Sister Cities San José has links with:

🇸🇻 Ahuachapan, El Salvador 🇲🇽 Álvaro Obregón, Mexico 🇦🇩 Andorra la Vella, Andorra 🇵🇾 Asunción, Paraguay 🇬🇷 Athens, Greece 🇮🇹 Bari, Italy 🇨🇳 Beijing, China 🇦🇷 Buenos Aires, Argentina 🇻🇪 Caracas, Venezuela 🇨🇳 Cheongwen, China 🇵🇪 Chimbote, Perú 🇪🇸 Coslada, Spain 🇲🇽 Ecatepec, Mexico 🇧🇷 Goiânia, Brazil 🇲🇽 Guadalajara, Mexico 🇬🇹 Guatemala City, Guatemala 🇵🇪 Huancayo, Perú 🇮🇩 Jayapura, Indonesia 🇵🇪 Juliaca, Perú 🇮🇱 Kfar Saba, Israel 🇵🇪 Lima, Perú 🇵🇹 Lisbon, Portugal 🇪🇸 Madrid, Spain 🇳🇮 Managua, Nicaragua 🇻🇪 Maracay, Venezuela 🇺🇸 McAllen, USA 🇲🇽 Mexico City, Mexico 🇺🇸 Miami, USA 🇺🇾 Montevideo, Uruguay 🇨🇳 Nansha District, China 🇯🇵 Okayama, Japan 🇪🇸 Pontevedra, Spain 🇬🇹 Quetzaltenango, Guatemala 🇧🇷 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 🇺🇸 San José, USA 🇭🇳 San Pedro Sula, Honduras 🇨🇱 Santiago, Chile 🇯🇵 Seikibashi, Japan 🇨🇳 Shunyi, China 🇹🇼 Taipei, Taiwan 🇨🇱 Viña del Mar, Chile
Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license | GaWC | GUCR | Nomad | StartupBlink

UNESCO Creative Cities for Design include: 🇯🇵 Asahikawa 🇹🇲 Ashgabat 🇦🇿 Baku 🇮🇩 Bandung 🇹🇭 Bangkok 🇩🇪 Berlin 🇪🇸 Bilbao 🇧🇷 Brasília 🇭🇺 Budapest 🇦🇷 Buenos Aires 🇿🇦 Cape Town 🇵🇭 Cebu City 🇲🇪 Cetinje 🇹🇭 Chiang Rai 🇨🇳 Chongqing 🇧🇷 Curitiba 🇺🇸 Detroit 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Dundee 🇧🇷 Fortaleza 🇦🇺 Geelong 🇳🇮 Granada 🇦🇹 Graz 🇻🇳 Hanoi 🇫🇮 Helsinki 🇹🇷 Istanbul 🇱🇹 Kaunas 🇯🇵 Kōbe 🇩🇰 Kolding 🇧🇪 Kortrijk 🇲🇽 Mexico City 🇨🇦 Montreal 🇧🇭 Muharraq 🇯🇵 Nagoya 🇲🇽 Puebla 🇲🇽 Querétaro 🇫🇷 Saint-Étienne 🇨🇷 San José 🇰🇷 Seoul 🇨🇳 Shanghai 🇨🇳 Shenzhen 🇸🇬 Singapore 🇮🇹 Turin 🇪🇸 València 🇨🇳 Wuhan
See Also: 🇺🇸 San José, California, United States | 🇺🇸 San Jose, New Mexico, United States | 🇵🇭 San Jose, Province of Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon Region, Philippines | 🇵🇭 San Jose, Province of Occidental Mindoro, Mimaropa, Philippines | 🇳🇮 San José de Bocay, Jinotega Department, Nicaragua | 🇵🇭 San Jose de Buenavista, The Province of Antique, Western Visayas Region, Philippines | 🇻🇪 San José de Guaribe, Guarico State, Venezuela | 🇳🇮 San José de los Remates, Boaco Department, Nicaragua | 🇦🇷 San José de Metán, Salta Province, Argentina | 🇲🇽 San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico | 🇨🇴 San José del Guaviare, Guaviare Department, Colombia | 🇵🇭 San José del Monte, The Province of Bulacan, Central Luzon Region, Philippines | 🇲🇽 San José del Progreso, Oaxaca, Mexico | 🇸🇻 San José Las Flores, Chalatenango Department, El Salvador

Antipodal to San José is: 95.885,-9.945

Locations Near: San José -84.1152,9.94456

🇨🇷 Pavas -84.139,9.95 d: 2.7  

🇨🇷 Escazú -84.146,9.916 d: 4.6  

🇨🇷 Heredia -84.116,9.999 d: 6  

🇨🇷 Santa Ana -84.176,9.932 d: 6.8  

🇨🇷 Alajuela -84.221,10.016 d: 14.1  

🇨🇷 Cartago -83.921,9.857 d: 23.4  

🇨🇷 Turrialba -83.681,9.89 d: 48  

🇨🇷 Quesada -84.42,10.344 d: 55.6  

🇨🇷 Puntarenas -84.834,9.977 d: 78.8  

🇨🇷 Limón -83.029,9.991 d: 119.1  

Antipodal to: San José 95.885,-9.945

🇮🇩 Bengkulu 102.25,-3.783 d: 19033.9  

🇮🇩 Bengkulu City 102.264,-3.792 d: 19033.5  

🇮🇩 Liwa 104.083,-5.033 d: 18959.4  

🇮🇩 Padang 100.355,-0.951 d: 18899.6  

🇮🇩 Pringsewu 104.961,-5.356 d: 18892.5  

🇮🇩 Bandar Lampung 105.267,-5.45 d: 18867  

🇮🇩 Sawahlunto 100.777,-0.681 d: 18851.6  

🇮🇩 Padang Panjang 100.429,-0.458 d: 18846.6  

🇮🇩 Bukittinggi 100.367,-0.3 d: 18833.6  

🇮🇩 Teluk Dalam 97.8,0.55 d: 18829.1  

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