San José is situated at the center of a tropical rain forest. Geographically the city itself lacks an airport, since the San José International Airport is located 45 minutes away from San Jose in a town named Alajuela.
San José was founded in 1737 serving as trading center for coffee plantations. However, San José didn’t become the national capital until 1823–two years after Costa Rica declared independence from Spain.
A popular nickname for San José is Chepe, a linguistic derivative of José. The city’s motto is Towards better things while the country of Costa Rica is often referred to as the “Switzerland of Central America”.
From an international trade perspective, Costa Rica ranks as the 85th top exporting nation. Costa Rica shipped an estimated US$11.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. Costa Rica’s most valuable export products include medical or veterinarian instruments and appliances (24.2% of its global total), bananas including plantains (8.7%), pineapples (8.6%), orthopedic appliances including crutches (5.9%), miscellaneous food preparations (4.1%), coffee (2.4%), new rubber tires (1.7%), insulated wire or cable (1.5%), drugs and medicines (1.4%) then fruit or vegetable juices (1.3%) according to the International Trade Centre.
Capital Facts for San José, Costa Rica: Quick Reference
Capital landmarks: National Theater of Costa Rica, National Artisanal Market, Metropolitan Church and the Correos de Costa Rica building.
Below, you will find 10 of the most famous people born in San José, Costa Rica.
- Anastasia Acosta, actress (born Oct. 18, 1974)
- Luis Marín, soccer/football national captain (born Aug. 10, 1974)
- Carlos Hernández, Olympic soccer/football player (born Apr. 9, 1982)
- Christal Clashing, Olympic swimmer (born Sep. 8, 1989)
- Daniel Zovatto, actor (born Jun. 28, 1991)
- Giannina Facio, actress & producer (born Sep. 10, 1955)
- Maribel Guardia, actress, model & singer (born May 29, 1959)
- Mauricio Castillo, soccer/football player (born Jun. 19, 1987)
- Luis Aguilar, Olympic swimmer (born Sep. 14, 1952)
- Rafael Pérez, Olympic marathon runner (born Jul. 3, 1946)
Note: Data for our Famous People tab was sourced from Google searches mostly targeting published Wikipedia articles specific to each person’s name.
Demonym for a San José resident: Josefino (male), Josefina (female)
Population: 342,188 (San José plus municipality) in 2018
Density: 19,860 people per square mile (7,669 per square kilometer)
Population: 5,093,644 (Costa Rica) at June 26, 2020
Density: 258 people per square mile (100 per square kilometer)
Median age for all Costa Ricans: 33.5 years old
GDP: US$91.6 billion in 2019 (Costa Rica)
GDP per person: $18,038
Note: The above country-level GDP metrics are on a Purchasing Power Parity basis and are in U.S. dollars. Credible city GDP statistics for San José were unavailable.
Official currency used in San José: Costa Rican colón
Atlas & Boots, The World’s Most Expensive Cities for Expats 2016.
Brookings Institution, Global Metro Monitor Report (includes GDP data).
Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook, Central America & Caribbean: Costa Rica .
Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook, Field Listing: Major Urban Areas.
CityMetric, Where are largest cities in the world? 2015 edition.
Demographia, World Urban Area, 12th Annual Edition.
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases.
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 17, 2017
Mercer, 2016 Cost of Living Rankings.
Official Government Website, Municipality of San José.
Wikimedia Commons, City Flags.
Note: Some city flags were unavailable. If so, attribution belongs to Wikimedia Commons for pertinent country flags.
Wikipedia, Costa Rica.
Wikipedia, Greater Metropolitan Area (Costa Rica).
Wikipedia, San José, Costa Rica.
WorldOMeter, Venezuela Population
Costa Rica separated from Spain on September 15, 1821. Costa Ricans celebrate Independence Day as a public holiday each September 15.
San José’s city core plus its municipal land area measures 17.23 square miles (44.62 square kilometers), and served as home to an estimated 342,188 residents in 2018.
Zooming out to national land boundaries, Costa Rica had a population of 5.1 million people as of June 26, 2020. The Central American country’s land mass spans 19,714 square miles (51,060 square kilometers).
Population density within San José’s municipal limits is an average 19,860 residents per square mile (7,669 per square kilometer).
From the national perspective, the Central American nation’s population density averages 258 Costa Ricans per square mile (100 per square kilometer).