San José, Costa Rica
|Motto: Ad Meliora|
|Province||San José Province|
|Canton||San José Canton|
|Capital as of||May 16, 1823|
|• Mayor||Sandra García Pérez (PLN)|
|• City||44.62 km2 (17.23 sq mi)|
|• Metro||2,044 km2 (789 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,170 m (3,840 ft)|
|• Density||6,455.71/km2 (16,720.2/sq mi)|
|• Urban||1,543,000 (March '13)|
|• Metro density||1,056.2/km2 (2,736/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Central Standard Time (UTC-6)|
|Area code(s)||+ 506|
|HDI (2007/2008)||0.748 – high|
San Jose ("Saint Joseph", Spanish: San José, pronounced: [saŋ xoˈse]) is the capital of Costa Rica, head of the 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.
Culturally, the city can be considered almost entirely European influenced, in part because of Spanish immigration soon after Costa Rica's discovery by Christopher Columbus, and the privileged classes which generally studied in Europe during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. This can be seen in the architecture of the city, namely theatres, museums and houses in the city centre. 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 Jose 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 Jose, 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 Jose 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.
Today it 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 titles. 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 city is one of Latin America's safest cities. On June 19, 2012, the city and nation reduced considerably their respective criminality indexes. Criminality, on a national scale, was reduced from 12.5% to a 9.5% (per 100,000 habitants).
In 2012, new police equipment was given out by the government; as well as receiving an increase in security budget. 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 September 27, 2012, San Jose 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.
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 that are generally orange or yellow colored.
The city is serviced by Juan Santamaría International Airport, 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 called Aeropuerto Internacional Tobías Bolaños Palma (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.
Costa Rican cuisine (comida típica) is not spicy, but it is tasty and simple, and in San José, it is easy to find. Costa Rican food is wholesome and reasonably priced. 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. A wide variety of food can be bought for home cooking at San José Central Market in downtown San José, as well as for inexpensive eating in Sodas within the market complex itself.
San José City lies in the Torrid Zone and is in a tropical rainforest. However its elevation gives it a mild climate. Under the Köppen climate classification it features a Tropical wet and dry climate. The temperature ranges between 17 and 30 °C (63 and 86 °F). Relative humidity averages 68.2% (with extremes of 55% in March and 78% in October) and the daily range tends to be between 60% and 90%, with the humidity typically dropping to the lower end of this range near mid-day and rising again during the night. It rains on an average of 170 days per year but half the rainfall pours down on only 15 of these days. The rainy season is from May to mid-November, but cloudiness and rainfall can occur during the dry season. There are approximately 2040 hours of sunshine per year. Regularly, there is a very strong wind[quantify] at some locations in San Jose during the dry season.
|Climate data for San José, Costa Rica|
|Average high °C (°F)||26.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||21.8
|Average low °C (°F)||17.8
|Precipitation mm (inches)||6.3
|Avg. rainy days||1||1||2||4||13||14||13||14||18||17||8||2||107|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||285.2||266.0||282.1||240.0||182.9||144.0||151.9||158.1||147.0||161.2||177.0||244.9||2,440.3|
|Source #1: HKO|
|Source #2: Weatherbase.com (rain days)|
Main City Landmarks
in the Justice Square in San José, Costa Rica.
Theatres and Auditoriums
San José has many beautiful theatres, 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 Theatre of Costa Rica (Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica).
- The Melico Salazar Theatre (Teatro Popular Melico Salazar).
- The National Auditorium of The Children's Museum of Costa Rica (Museo de los Niños).
The National Theatre of Costa Rica and the Melico Salazar Theatre present drama, dance performances and concerts throughout the year. Nevertheless, other 'smaller' theatres can be found throughout the city and provide a large array of entertainment.
Teatro Variedades is San José's oldest theatre.
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.
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.
- San José Central Park (Parque Central)
- 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.
- Culture Square—La Plaza de La Cultura (one example).
- Simón Bolívar Zoo — city's only zoo, with a large variety of native Costa Rican and exotic animals and plant species.
Twin towns – Sister cities
San José is twinned with:
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- Patrimonio Nacional
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