To understand Costa Rica, you first must understand the culture, and to understand the culture then you have to study the capital city, San Jose. San Jose is the largest and the most densely populated city in Costa Rica, it is normally the first port of call for people visiting this most diverse country.Unlike many Central American capital cities, the city of Saint Joseph feels modern and is not as poverty ridden as most. It has a thriving business community as well as being steeped in culture, the food is quite amazing and there is a general buzz around the place.
Geography of Costa Rica
The capital city is to be found right in the center of Costa Rica and is located in the central valley. The Central Valley is a large flat plain that sits around one thousand meters above sea level, and San Jose itself is at an elevated position of eleven hundred meters above sea level.
The main thoroughfare is called the Paseo Colon or as it is sometimes called Avenida 2. It begins at the splendid Sabana Metropolitan Park which is the green lung of the city, and in the close vicinity are many large businesses and foreign consulates. Continuing on down Paseo Colon you will come to the oldest part of this great city which entertains the central plaza of the town, here also is the city’s cathedral. The rest of the city is divided is in the form of a grid pattern based around the Paseo Colon. And in the local area there are many restaurants, shops, museums and hotels. To find your way about is fairly easy as the roads running from east to west are called Avenues, and from north to south Calles. This crisscross of roads are all numbered so finding places is relatively straight forward.
The Costa Rican People
San Jose has a population of two million, and is a third of the entire population of the country. Really San Jose is a microcosm of the country as a whole, with people from all corners of Costa Rica represented living in the capital. Most are a mix of indigenous people and Spanish (mestizo) and white, although aboriginal and black people can also be found. San Jose also has a mix of Arab and Chinese communities, and a great number of expats from North America.
Founded as a Spanish administration center in 1738, San Jose was developed from a neglected backwater that was ruled by Guatemala. So, in every sense of the word, San Jose is young, and is one of the most recent capitals in the whole of Latin America. The original capital of Costa Rica was Cartago, but this was deemed at the time of the Spanish expansion as too Mexican. But it was not until 1838 that San Jose became known as the official capital of a totally independent country. Since then San Jose has developed as one of the significant political and cultural capital cities in Latin America. At a glance it seems to lack history of other notable capitals, but scratch the surface and San Jose offers great landmarks and interesting buildings.