Tres Ríos, Cartago

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Tres Ríos
Iglesia de Tres Ríos
Iglesia de Tres Ríos
Tres Ríos is located in Costa Rica
Tres Ríos
Tres Ríos
Location in Costa Rica
Coordinates: 9°54′00″N 83°59′23″W / 9.90000°N 83.98972°W / 9.90000; -83.98972Coordinates: 9°54′00″N 83°59′23″W / 9.90000°N 83.98972°W / 9.90000; -83.98972
Country  Costa Rica
Province Cartago Province
Canton La Unión Canton
Elevation 1,345 m (4,413 ft)
Population (2009)[1]
 • Total 9,484
Time zone UTC-6 (Central Standard Time)

Tres Ríos (Three Rivers) is the capital city of La Unión Canton in Cartago Province in Costa Rica. It is about 12 km east of San José and 11 km west of Cartago. It lies at an elevation of 1,345 m,[2] and the estimated population is 9,484 people (2009).[1]


In pre-Columbian times this area, now in the canton of La Unión, was inhabited by Indians of the North Huetar kingdom, domains of the chief Guarco. At the time of the conquest the principal chief of the region was Guarco's son, Correque.

In the eighteenth century some parish priests from the Church of the Holy Spirit of Esparza City, accompanied by natives of Salamanca, were heading to the city of Cartago. On their way they traveled through the valley of the Three Rivers, as it was called at that time. They settled there, thus giving rise to a more stable population.

They built a small chapel that was dedicated to the Virgen del Pilar, whose image had been given to them by Bishop Hall. Thus the fledgling town was named for Our Lady of the Pillar of Three Rivers, or simply people of Pilar. The people of Three Rivers are sometimes known as "Pilaricos".

In relation to the name of the canton there are two popular versions. One concerns a group of Spanish missionaries from a convent in Guatemala, arriving accompanied by Indians of different cultural groups. The small town they established was called La Unión, to commemorate their friendliness and brotherhood.

The other version is attributed to the fact that the location of the town is at the junction of three rivers, now called Tiribi, Shorty and The Cross so that the village then became known as The Union of Three Rivers.[3]


Tres Ríos coffee is recognized[by whom?] internationally as one of the best in the world[citation needed] for its high quality. Its unique flavor is due to the high fertility and composition of the region's soils, which have been enriched by minerals in the various eruptions of Irazú Volcano (last in 1963) and to an ideal balance of moisture from rains and warm summers.

Due to a dynamic urban growth in the metropolitan area of Costa Rica in the late twentieth century, the land use has progressivelly changed from agricultural to suburban, forcing the elimination of dozens of coffee farms. However, the Tres Rios area still continues to grow coffee beans for the gourmet market.

The economy of Tres Rios is now diversified and no longer depends only on the cultivation of coffee. Urban development and geographical location close to other densely populated metropolitan suburbs and midway between the cities of San José and Cartago have oriented its economy to trade and services, including the development of many private schools.[4]


  1. ^ a b Estadísticas Vitales 2008 Archived 2013-08-13 at the Wayback Machine. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INEC), December 2009.
  2. ^ "La Union - Council information". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  3. ^ "Tres Rios, Cartago". Go visit Costa Rica. Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  4. ^ "Coffee From The Tres Rios Region of Costa Rica". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 

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