San José, Costa Rica
San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

. Located in the Central Valley
Costa Rican Central Valley
The Central Valley is a plateau and a geographic region of central Costa Rica. The land in the valley is a relative plain, despite being surrounded by several mountains and volcanos, the latter part of the Central Range. The region houses almost three quarters of Costa Ricans, and includes the...

, San José is the seat of national government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and the major transportation hub of this Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

n nation.

Founded in 1738 by order of Cabildo de León
Cabildo (council)
For a discussion of the contemporary Spanish and Latin American cabildo, see Ayuntamiento.A cabildo or ayuntamiento was a former Spanish, colonial administrative council that governed a municipality. Cabildos were sometimes appointed, sometimes elected, but were considered to be representative of...

, San José is one of the youngest capital cities in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 by year of conception, though it was not named capital until 1823. 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.

The population of San José Canton
San José Canton
San José is the name of the first canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 44.62 km² and has a population of 386,799 . It includes the national capital city of San José....

 is 365,799, though the metropolitan area
San José Metropolitan Area
San Jose Metropolitan Area is the largest urban agglomeration in Costa Rica, comprising areas of high population density surrounding the capital, San José...

 stretches beyond the canton limits and comprises a third of the country's population. San José exerts a strong influence on a wider range because of its proximity to other cities (Alajuela
Alajuela is the second largest city in Costa Rica after the capital, San José. It is also the capital of the namesake province. Because of its location in the Costa Rican Central Valley, Alajuela is nowadays englobed in the conurbation of Great Metropolitan Area...

, Heredia
Heredia, Costa Rica
Heredia is a city located in the Heredia province of Costa Rica and is the capital of that province. It is currently undergoing a rapid process of industrialization and is located 10 kilometers north of the country's capital, San José....

 and Cartago
Cartago, Costa Rica
- See also :* Cartago Agrarian Union Party* Provincial Integration Party Three* Cartago in Spanish...

) and the country's demographic assemblage in the Central Valley.

The city lies at a mean elevation of 1,161 m above sea level, and enjoys a stable climate throughout the year, with an average temperature of 25oC (77oF) and annual precipitation of 1800 mm, more than 90% of it falling in the rainy season from May to November.

University of Santo Tomás, 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. San José serves as the headquarters of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is an autonomous judicial institution based in the city of San José, Costa Rica. Together with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, it makes up the human rights protection system of the Organization of American States , which serves to uphold and...

. The city is served by Juan Santamaría International Airport
Juan Santamaría International Airport
Juan Santamaría International Airport is located in Alajuela Province, about from downtown San José, Costa Rica. It is a hub airport for TACA/Lacsa, and focus city airport for Copa Airlines. It is named after Costa Rica's national hero Juan Santamaría, a courageous drummer boy who died in 1856...

, 23 km west of downtown, in the city of Alajuela
Alajuela is the second largest city in Costa Rica after the capital, San José. It is also the capital of the namesake province. Because of its location in the Costa Rican Central Valley, Alajuela is nowadays englobed in the conurbation of Great Metropolitan Area...

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