What Is the Capital of Costa Rica?

The National Theatre in San José, Costa Rica.
The National Theatre in San José, Costa Rica.

Located in the isthmus of Central America, the Republic of Costa Rica is bordered by the countries of Panama, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. The country has coastlines along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Costa Rica covers an area of 51,060 square km and has a population of around 4.9 million.

What Is the Capital of Costa Rica and Where Is it Located?

San José is Costa Rica’s most populous city and is the country's seat of the national government. The city is located in Costa’s Rica’s western province in the Central Valley. San José covers a land area of 44.2 square km and had a population of 333,288 in 2015. The average elevation of the city is 1,172 m. San José experiences a tropical wet and dry climate.

History of the Capital City of Costa Rica

In 1738, Cabildo de León ordered the establishment of San José, which was intended to bring the dispersed settlers of the Aserrí Valley under a single administration. This plan included the building of a chapel, named La Boca del Monte, which was completed within two years. Other facilities and amenities were also established to attract people to the area. However, the population of San José did not grow rapidly due to water problems. Several measures were adopted by the local administration to ensure adequate supplies of clean water and encourage growth of the settlement. San José had its own local government in 1812, and a year later it was formally designated as a city by the Spanish government. It became the capital of Costa Rica in 1823, replacing Cartago following the victory of the Republicans in the Battle of Ochomogo.

Current Role of the Capital of Costa Rica

San José’s El Carmen District houses the National Congress building of Costa Rica, which serves as the meeting place of parliament. Several other national government buildings, ministries, and official residences are also present in the capital city. San José is also the economic and transportation hub of the country. Over a million people travel to the city center daily for work. San José is one of the safest cities in the region, and attracts a large number of tourists. Attractions include beautiful theaters, interesting museums, open green areas, shopping complexes, and recreational areas.


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