San José metropolitan area
San Jose Metropolitan Area (Spanish: Area Metropolitana de San José) is the largest urban agglomeration in Costa Rica, comprising areas of high population density surrounding the capital, San José. The most proper definition corresponds to INEC's urban districts of San José's Gran Área Metropolitana or Great Metropolitan Area (commonly referred as GAM). According to the last census, the GAM has a population of 2.2 million inhabitants (about 50% of the population) in an area of 2,044 km² (just over 4% of the area Costa Rica).
Since colonial times, Costa Rica's Central Valley houses a major share of the population in less than a tenth of the country's total area. On this plateau lies four of the seven provincial seats, including the capital, San José. Throughout the years a strong immigration stream spurred by the uneven economic opportunities and a growing job demand helped to expand this urban cores and to develop new residential areas in former agricultural lands.
San Jose Metropolitan Area matches more to a political definition than to an urban one. Also, this metro area is more compatible with the urban area concept, because a proper metropolitan area definition applied in this case should include some cities englobed in the conurbation of San Jose nowadays should include the cities of Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago, but this is not currently accepted by the authorities, given the status of this cities as provincial capitals too.