Cantons of Costa Rica

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Costa Rica

Costa Rica is administratively divided into seven provinces which are subdivided into 81 cantons, and these are further subdivided into districts. Cantons are the only administrative division in Costa Rica that possess local government in the form of municipalities. Each municipality has its own mayor and several representatives, all of them chosen via municipal elections every four years.

The original 14 cantons were established in 1848, and the number has risen gradually by the division of existing cantons. Law no. 4366 of 19 August 1969, which outlines the creation of administrative divisions of Costa Rica, states that new cantons may only be created if they have at least one percent of the republic's total population, which was 4,301,712 as of the last census (2011).[1][2] The last new canton, Garabito, was created on September 25, 1980.[3]

The largest canton by population is the capital San José with a population of 288,054. The smallest canton by population is Turrubares with 5,512 residents.[2] The largest canton by land area is San Carlos, which spans 3,347.98 km2 (1,292.66 sq mi), while the smallest is Flores at 6.96 km2 (2.69 sq mi).[3]

Political structure[edit]

Each canton is controlled by a government unit called Municipalidad.[4] The term reflects the fact that the cantons in Costa Rica have approximately the same function as municipios ("municipalities") in many other Spanish-speaking countries. This administrative unit consists of two bodies: a municipal executive (Concejo Municipal) and an executive body which only consists of a mayor (alcalde / alcaldesa municipal), a title that was introduced in 1998.[4]

The mayor's main duties are to liaise with the municipal council, district councils and the entire administrative apparatus of the canton, and to approve and implement the decisions taken by the municipal council.[5] The number of members of the municipal council varies from one canton to another, and they are elected by local elections held every four years.[6] The head of the council is titled the municipal president (presidente municipal). The council's main task is to manage the canton at the local level, and is responsible for planning basic policies and establishing budgets. More specifically, the responsibilities include urban and agricultural planning and organizing cultural affairs, health care, education and industry.[7] Each municipal president appoints a number of working commissions that deal with issues specific to the municipality.[8]

Cantons[edit]

Name Province Population
(2011)[2]
Population
(2000)[9]
Change[2][9] Land area (km²)[3] Population density Incorporation date[3]
San José San José 288,054 309,672 −7.0% 44.62 6,455.7/km2 1848
Escazú San José 56,509 52,372 +7.9% 34.49 1,638.4/km2 1848
Desamparados San José 208,411 193,478 +7.7% 118.26 1,762.3/km2 1862
Puriscal San José 33,004 29,407 +12.2% 553.66 59.6/km2 1868
Tarrazú San José 16,280 14,160 +15.0% 297.50 54.7/km2 1868
Aserrí San José 57,892 49,319 +17.4% 167.10 346.5/km2 1882
Mora San José 26,294 21,666 +21.4% 162.04 162.3/km2 1883
Goicoechea San José 115,084 117,532 −2.1% 31.50 3,653.5/km2 1891
Santa Ana San José 49,123 34,507 +42.4% 61.42 799.8/km2 1907
Alajuelita San José 77,603 70,297 +10.4% 21.17 3,665.7/km2 1909
Vásquez de Coronado San José 60,486 55,585 +8.8% 222.20 272.2/km2 1910
Acosta San José 20,209 18,661 +8.3% 342.24 59.0/km2 1910
Tibás San José 64,842 72,074 −10.0% 8.15 7,956.1/km2 1914
Moravia San José 56,919 50,419 +12.9% 28.62 1,988.8/km2 1914
Montes de Oca San José 49,132 50,433 −2.6% 15.16 3,240.9/km2 1915
Turrubares San José 5,512 4,877 +13.0% 415.29 13.3/km2 1920
Dota San José 6,948 6,519 +6.6% 400.22 17.4/km2 1925
Curridabat San José 65,206 60,889 +7.1% 15.95 4,088.2/km2 1929
Pérez Zeledón San José 134,534 122,187 +10.1% 1,905.51 70.6/km2 1931
León Cortés Castro San José 12,200 11,696 +4.3% 120.80 101.0/km2 1961
Alajuela Alajuela 254,886 222,853 +14.4% 758.32 336.1/km2 1848
San Ramón Alajuela 80,566 67,975 +18.5% 1,018.64 79.1/km2 1856
Grecia Alajuela 76,898 65,119 +18.1% 395.72 194.3/km2 1848
San Mateo Alajuela 6,136 5,343 +14.8% 125.90 48.7/km2 1868
Atenas Alajuela 25,460 22,479 +13.3% 127.19 200.2/km2 1868
Naranjo Alajuela 42,713 37,602 +13.6% 126.62 337.3/km2 1886
Palmares Alajuela 34,716 29,766 +16.6% 38.06 912.1/km2 1888
Poás Alajuela 29,199 24,764 +17.9% 73.84 395.4/km2 1901
Orotina Alajuela 20,341 15,705 +29.5% 141.92 143.3/km2 1908
San Carlos Alajuela 163,745 127,140 +28.8% 3,347.98 48.9/km2 1911
Zarcero Alajuela 12,205 10,845 +12.5% 155.13 78.7/km2 1915
Valverde Vega Alajuela 18,085 16,239 +11.4% 120.25 150.4/km2 1949
Upala Alajuela 43,953 37,679 +16.7% 1,580.67 27.8/km2 1970
Los Chiles Alajuela 23,735 19,732 +20.3% 1,358.86 17.5/km2 1970
Guatuso Alajuela 15,508 13,045 +18.9% 758.32 20.5/km2 1970
Cartago Cartago 147,898 132,057 +12.0% 287.77 513.9/km2 1848
Paraíso Cartago 57,743 52,393 +10.2% 411.91 140.2/km2 1848
La Unión Cartago 99,399 80,279 +23.8% 44.83 2,217.2/km2 1848
Jiménez Cartago 14,669 14,046 +4.4% 286.43 51.2/km2 1903
Turrialba Cartago 69,616 68,510 +1.6% 1,642.67 42.4/km2 1903
Alvarado Cartago 14,312 12,290 +16.5% 81.06 176.6/km2 1908
Oreamuno Cartago 45,473 39,032 +16.5% 202.31 224.8/km2 1914
El Guarco Cartago 41,793 33,788 +23.7% 167.69 249.2/km2 1939
Heredia Heredia 123,616 103,894 +19.0% 282.60 437.4/km2 1848
Barva Heredia 40,660 32,440 +25.3% 53.80 755.8/km2 1848
Santo Domingo Heredia 40,072 34,748 +15.3% 24.84 1,613.2/km2 1869
Santa Bárbara Heredia 36,243 29,181 +24.2% 53.21 681.1/km2 1882
San Rafael Heredia 45,965 37,293 +23.3% 48.39 949.9/km2 1885
San Isidro Heredia 20,633 16,056 +28.5% 26.96 765.3/km2 1905
Belén Heredia 21,633 19,834 +9.1% 12.15 1,780.5/km2 1907
Flores Heredia 20,037 15,038 +33.2% 6.96 2,878.9/km2 1915
San Pablo Heredia 27,671 20,813 +33.0% 7.53 3,674.8/km2 1961
Sarapiquí Heredia 57,147 45,435 +25.8% 2,140.54 26.7/km2 1970
Liberia Guanacaste 62,987 46,703 +34.9% 1,436.47 43.8/km2 1848
Nicoya Guanacaste 50,825 42,189 +20.5% 1,333.68 38.1/km2 1848
Santa Cruz Guanacaste 55,104 40,821 +35.0% 1,312.27 42.0/km2 1848
Bagaces Guanacaste 19,536 15,972 +22.3% 1,273.49 15.3/km2 1848
Carrillo Guanacaste 37,122 27,306 +35.9% 577.54 64.3/km2 1877
Cañas Guanacaste 26,201 24,076 +8.8% 682.20 38.4/km2 1878
Abangares Guanacaste 18,039 16,276 +10.8% 675.76 26.7/km2 1915
Tilarán Guanacaste 19,640 17,871 +9.9% 638.39 30.8/km2 1923
Nandayure Guanacaste 11,121 9,985 +11.4% 565.59 19.7/km2 1961
La Cruz Guanacaste 19,181 16,505 +16.2% 1,383.90 13.9/km2 1969
Hojancha Guanacaste 7,197 6,534 +10.1% 261.42 27.5/km2 1971
Puntarenas Puntarenas 115,019 102,504 +12.2% 1,842.33 62.4/km2 1862
Esparza Puntarenas 28,644 23,963 +19.5% 216.80 132.1/km2 1848
Buenos Aires Puntarenas 45,244 40,139 +12.7% 2,384.22 19.0/km2 1914
Montes de Oro Puntarenas 12,950 11,159 +16.0% 244.76 52.9/km2 1915
Osa Puntarenas 29,433 25,861 +13.8% 1,930.24 15.2/km2 1940
Quepos Puntarenas 26,861 20,188 +33.1% 543.77 49.4/km2 1948
Golfito Puntarenas 39,150 33,823 +15.7% 1,753.96 22.3/km2 1949
Coto Brus Puntarenas 38,453 40,082 −4.1% 933.91 41.2/km2 1965
Parrita Puntarenas 16,115 12,112 +33.0% 478.79 33.7/km2 1971
Corredores Puntarenas 41,831 37,274 +12.2% 620.60 67.4/km2 1973
Garabito Puntarenas 17,229 10,378 +66.0% 316.31 54.5/km2 1980
Limón Limón 94,415 89,933 +5.0% 1,765.79 53.5/km2 1909
Pococí Limón 125,962 103,121 +22.1% 2,403.49 52.4/km2 1911
Siquirres Limón 56,786 52,409 +8.4% 860.19 66.0/km2 1911
Talamanca Limón 30,712 25,857 +18.8% 2,809.93 10.9/km2 1969
Matina Limón 37,721 33,096 +14.0% 772.64 48.8/km2 1969
Guácimo Limón 41,266 34,879 +18.3% 576.48 71.6/km2 1971
Costa Rica 4,301,712 3,810,179 +12.9% 51,100 84.2/km2

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Comisión Nacional de División Territorial Administrativa (1980). Estudio sobre la División Territorial Administrativa de la Republica de Costa Rica [Study on the Administrative Territorial Division of the Republic of Costa Rica] (in Spanish). Costa Rica: Imprenta Nacional. §53. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Población total por zona y sexo, según provincia, cantón y distrito" [Total population by area and sex, province, county and district] (XLS) (in Spanish). Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos. 2011. Retrieved December 23, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Division Territorial Administrativa de Costa Rica" [Administrative Territorial Divisions of Costa Rica] (PDF) (in Spanish). Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos. 2009. Archived from the original on August 2, 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Alfaro and Zeledón (2006). Derechos ciudadanos y el gobierno local en Costa Rica [Rights of citizens and local governments in Costa Rica] (in Spanish). San José: Lara Segura & Asoc. p. 35. 
  5. ^ Alfaro and Zeledón (2006). Derechos ciudadanos y el gobierno local en Costa Rica [Rights of citizens and local governments in Costa Rica] (in Spanish). San José: Lara Segura & Asoc. pp. 36–37. 
  6. ^ "El Elector" [The Elector] (PDF) (in Spanish). Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones. May 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2016. 
  7. ^ Unidad de Información y Adiestramiento (1987). La Municipalidad y sus funciones [The Municipality and its functions] (in Spanish). San José. §6. 
  8. ^ Unidad de Información y Adiestramiento (1987). La Municipalidad y sus funciones [The Municipality and its functions] (in Spanish). San José. §11. 
  9. ^ a b "Población total por zona y sexo, según provincia, cantón y distrito" [Total population by area and sex, province, county and district] (in Spanish). Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos. 2000. Archived from the original (XLS) on May 5, 2016. Retrieved December 23, 2015.