San Jose is the capital of the Republic of Costa Rica; it is the head of the province. The city is the political and economic center of the country. It crowds together more than half of the commerce and the services. It receives his name in honor to Jose of Nazareth, presumed father of Jesus of Nazareth.
The central corner of San Jose was founded the 7th of December in 1848. The population arises around 1737-1738.It has been Costa Rica's capital three times: in 1822, from 1823 to 1834 and from 1838 to the present time.It is a city with a very interesting mixture of history and modernity; although the center of the zone is almost vacated it becomes a crossing site during the day for more than a million people, which generates a road chaos and an increase of the contamination levels.
Even though of its problems, according to studies made in the scope of all Latin America, San Jose continues being one of the safest and less violent cities of the entire region. In 2006 San José was designated Capital of the Latin American Culture.
The territory that San José occupies is formed by a level of land with slight undulations, very fertile, surrounded by mountains, and covered by streams that cross to the west. The city is located in the Central Valley with an altitude of 1170 msnm (meters on the sea level).
The temperatures are between 18°C to 22 °C. The rainy season, like the rest of the country, goes from May to November, and the accumulated precipitations during the year go up to 2000 mm.
San Jose has a surface of 44.6 km ². It limits in the north with the province of Heredia (specifically with the canton of Belen, Heredia and Santo Domingo), as well with Tibás and Goicoechea; in the east with San Pedro and Curridabat and in the south with Desamparados, Alajuelita and Escazú.
According to the census made in 1815, San Jose had about 11,500 neighbors.
For this time the division of Costa Rica with Spain (1821) made San Jose surpassed the population and resources of Cartago, capital since century XVI. This development was very fast because of the sprouting of the coffee plantations in the decades of 1820 and 1830.
Through century XIX the signs of the urban planning were pronounced.
It is known as Chepe by all the Costa Ricans. San José today is the center of all productions, all the principal banks and the greatest Companies. High office towers, shopping malls and fast food service make all Ticos have a fast daily life.
Traffic Jam is always between 6-8 am and from 5-7pm. Inside the downtown roads each day a number plate prohibition is made for making the transit flow. Roads are divided into streets and avenues, from east to west. Avenues are numbered with odd numbers and avenues with even numbers. Josefinos (San Jose people) are not used to give address using streets and avenues. Until last years the Government was trying to label every road, this is the reason that Costa Ricans don’t know the road number they live on.
Some important districts of San Jose are: Barrio Amon, Barrio Mexico, Desamparados, Escazu, Los Yoses, Moravia, Rhomoser, San Bosco, San Pedro and Tibas.
A cultural and positive environment will describe perfectly Costa Rica. Lots of activities and entertainment will make you enjoy and learn about this Latin country.
Medical service is always free if you have international insurance otherwise you can pay for a private doctor. Public service is always very slow so if it is an emergency a private doctor will be better.
Around the capital you will hardly find laundries. Many hotels and hostels offer this service.
There are thousands of banks. The best solution for changing money is to use the hotel cashiers. In the hotel and in the bank they have similar exchange rates. Every bank has different exchange rates. You will always need you ID. A better way for obtaining cash is to use the automatic machines. They work for Visa and some of them for Master Card, in the front of the instrument a clear sticker will indicate you which credit cards work. You can sent or receive money by wire transfer in or out the country.
Dollars are accepted almost everywhere. In international restaurants or in stores prices come in colones and in dollars. Although they may give you a poor exchange.
Most shops and restaurants accept credit cards.
Telephone, Fax and Internet: All around the country you will find a public phone. There are two ways of using it, with coins or with cards. This cards can be obtain in hotels, in pulperias (little stores), in supermarkets or even in pharmacies. From all of these phones you can make international calls. In the hotels you can call too but it will be expensive.
All hotels have internet service; it will cost you around $2 per hour. Another cheapest option is to visit an Internet Café. They are all around too and they will charge you $1 hour. Normally in the internet cafes you can send or receive faxes.
If you have an emergency just dial 9-1-1.
Costa Rica's people eat 5 times in a day.
In all Costa Rica's restaurants you can taste the typical food. Some cheap restaurants are called Sodas, this are clean, small and normally outside the house, these are normally familiar works. Food customs are very famous too. The most traditional Costa Rica’s culinary food is the “Tamal”. This is made in Christmas days. It is a familiar situation. It is a generic name given in several Latin American countries. This is a plate prepared with mass of maize cooked surrounded with banana leaves. They contain meat, vegetables, chili, fruits, and sauce; in addition can be sweet or salty. Every family has its one recipe that has been change until they think is the best.In every dish you can put some Tabasco (typical chili bottle) or use the Chilera (a dash of hot chili).
These are the principal typical foods.
In every restaurant the natural drinks (made from fruits) are what people prefer. Fizzy soft drinks are common too. A famous Costa Rican drink are the “batidos”, this are like smoothies, they are a mixture of fruits with water or with milk. Costa Rica is famous for its beers. You can choose on 4 or 5 national beers. I f you want a cocktail or a different drink, there is the typical drink called “guaro”. It comes derived from the sugar cane; normally it is combined with sparkling water, lime and salt. Also the popular “Cuba libre” this is coca cola with Rum, you can also drink vodka or any other liquor, they cost around $3-$5 depending on the place.
All Costa Rica's water is drinkable, although in some places the water has many minerals and this affects people. The best solution is to buy bottles of water, to drink and sometimes to cook. A water bottle goes for $1-$2.
Ticos love to have fun at night especially on Fridays. They love to drink as much as they like to dance. There are two entertainment places in San Jose town, in San Pedro on the east and in Escazu on the west. San Pedro is the university district so all the bars around are very cheap and full of young students. In Escazu you will find a fashionable environment, this bars are expensive but you will find nice looking people and fun up to 4 am.
Some bars have week promotes; this is from Monday throw Friday. It consists on selling drinks 2 x1 or giving a drink for half price. They give special hours for this promotes. Many bars will have dance rooms or they might have also karaoke time.
Casinos: They usually are inside expensive hotels. Casinos are casual sometimes it is asked to wear dress code. Casinos are mostly visited by prostitutes or undesirable people.
Dangers: San Jose is the place were more assaults and crimes occur. Thief’s just by looking at people know which ones are local or tourists. The best thing you can do is to leave on the hotel all personal documents and the money. Another important thing is to wear a money belt with some cents and with a photocopy of your identification. The best thing to do in a physical attack is to give the thief what he wants not fighting at all.