San José, capital of Costa Rica, is also the largest city, the seat of the government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and the major transportation hub of this Central American nation. Because of the city’s location in a mountainous valley in the middle of the country, San José is an ideal jumping off point to explore Costa Rica’s thriving rainforests or an excellent place to cool down after tanning at the beach. This 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 23°C and precipitation of 150 mm per month.
Founded in 1738, San José is one of the youngest capitals of Latin America by its year of foundation, though it was not named capital until 1823. Nowadays, it is a modern and cosmopolitan city, with approximately a third of the country’s population living downtown and in the surrounding suburbs. Officially, the city's current population is 346,799, inhabiting the area corresponding to San José canton, the first of twenty administrative units in San José province, though, the metropolitan area stretches beyond the canton limits. San José exerts a strong influence on a wider geographical range because of its proximity to minor cities such as Alajuela, Heredia.
San José is home to many of most important institutions in the country and in Central America. For instance, Universidad de Costa Rica (University of Costa Rica), which was established in 1843 with the name of Universidad de Santo Tomás (University of Saint Thomas) and the international airport Juan Santamaría, which is located 23 km west of downtown, near Alajuela. Another important institution located in San José is the headquarters of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
The city offers to its visitors a wide variety of hotels and accommodations, theatres, museums, restaurants, markets, golf courses, casinos, incredible nightlife and adventure tours. San José’s main points of interest are concentrated in a compact center laid out in a grid, which makes exploring easy. Like most cities in Latin America, this city is built around a central plaza or square called the “Plaza de la Cultura”. The Plaza is the heart of the city’s pedestrian-only shopping zone which spans 8 blocks along the “Avenida Central” or Central Avenue. The Plaza de la Cultura is a gathering point for musicians, street performers and youth – making it an ideal place for people watching and is a great starting point for exploring the capital and it’s museums, churches and points of interest.