San José, Costa Rica
|City and municipality|
Motto: Ad Meliora (Latin)|
San José and surrounding area
Location of San José within Costa Rica
|Coordinates: 9°56′N 84°5′W / 9.933°N 84.083°WCoordinates: 9°56′N 84°5′W / 9.933°N 84.083°W|
|Capital as of||16 May 1823|
|• Mayor||Johnny Araya Monge (PASJ|
|• City and municipality||44.62 km2 (17.23 sq mi)|
|• Metro||2,044 km2 (789 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,172 m (3,845 ft)|
|• City and municipality||333,981|
|• Density||6,455.71/km2 (16,720.2/sq mi)|
|• Urban||1,543,000 (March 2,013)|
|• Metro density||1,056.2/km2 (2,736/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Central Standard Time (UTC-6)|
|Area code(s)||+ 506|
|HDI (2011)||0.756 – high|
San José (literally meaning "Saint Joseph", pronounced: [saŋ xoˈse]) is the capital of Costa Rica, western province of San José, and the nation's largest city. Located in 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 population of San José Canton is 288,054, though the metropolitan area stretches beyond the canton limits and comprises a third of the country's population. It 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 Latin America, 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.
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 urban concentration.
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 latest 19th century in line with Belle Époque contemporary architecture. The 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, brisk expressions of art and architecture, and spurred by the country's improved tourism industry, it is a significant destination and stopover for foreign visitors.
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 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 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 German 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. 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.
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 Rica.
San José is currently undergoing modernization in transportation. The current 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 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 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.
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 that are generally orange or yellow colored.
The car-sharing company Uber has entered Costa Rica, but the government has stated that is not allowed to operate because it is in violation of public transport laws. Despite repeated clashes with the government 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 (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-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 32 league titles. They play their home games at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá, which is located in Tibás. Another top level club, Universidad play at the Estadio Ecológio.
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 experiences tropical wet and dry climate (Aw) according Köppen Climate Classification as there's a distinct precipitation total between the driest month 6.3 millimetres (0.25 in) and the wettest month 355.1 millimetres (13.98 in). The average temperature seems to be mild due to altitude influence. As it lies in the tropics, the average temperature throughout the year has only a little variation. The hottest month is April with average temperature 23.7 °C (74.7 °F), while the coolest month is October with average temperature 21.8 °C (71.2 °F).
|Climate data for San José, Costa Rica|
|Record high °C (°F)|| 31.5
|Average high °C (°F)|| 28.2
|Daily mean °C (°F)|| 22.6
|Average low °C (°F)|| 18.5
|Record low °C (°F)|| 11.7
|Average precipitation mm (inches)|| 6.3
|Average precipitation days||3||3||5||10||23||22||20||22||26||25||17||8||184|
|Average relative humidity (%)||68||68||66||70||77||83||80||83||85||87||79||74||76.7|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||217||220||248||210||161||120||124||136||150||136||135||183||2,040|
|Source #1: Deutscher Wetterdienst|
|Source #2: Danish Meteorological Institute|
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 José 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 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.
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)
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 (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.
- Simón Bolívar Zoo — the city's only zoo, with a large variety of native Costa Rican and exotic animals and plant species.
- Culture Square—La Plaza de La Cultura (one example).
Twin towns – Sister cities
San José is twinned with:
This is a list in alphabetical order of notable people from San José, Costa Rica or lived in San José, Costa Rica.
- Manuel Aguilar Chacón, former head of state of Costa Rica
- Randall Arauz, environmentalist
- Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia, former president of Costa Rica
- Daniel Cambronero, goalkeeper
- 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
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- "CHAPTER 7: Introduction to the Atmosphere". PhysicalGeography.net. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
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- "Klimatafel von San José (Int. Flugh.) / Costa Rica" (PDF). Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
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- Patrimonio Nacional
- "Sister Cities, Public Relations". Guadalajara municipal government. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to San José, Costa Rica.|
- San José, 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.). 1911.
- "San José. The capital of Costa Rica". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.