San José is the capital of the Republic of Costa Rica and the head of the province of the same name. Located in the center of the country, specifically on the intervolcanic plateau called Central Valley, and contained entirely by the canton of the same name. Its metropolitan area, with approximately 3 160 000 inhabitants, makes San José the most important political, economic and social center of the Costa Rican territory, as well as the main hub for transportation and telecommunications. Culturally it can be considered almost entirely European influenced by immigration (especially Spanish and Italian) and the coupling of trends born in France and Belgium since the late nineteenth century. This can be seen in the layout of the city, which grew up around the present cathedral, and later in its architecture.

Like the dean cantons of the country, the canton of San José was founded on December 7, 1848, however the population emerged around 1737. Throughout its history, as a city of strategic importance, it has been the capital of the Republic on three occasions and, at present, its center is an eminently commercial area that congregates more than 1 million people daily. The San José Metropolitan Area is made up of the other satellite districts of San José and 13 other cantons of the province, forming the Greater Metropolitan Area together with the conurbations of Cartago, Heredia and Alajuela.

San José stands out among Latin American cities for its high quality of life, safety, globalization, environmental performance, public services and recognized institutions (hospitals, museums, universities, etc.), being the sixth most attractive tourist capital of the region, leader in Central America. This has led to a multitude of international organizations and continental cooperation agencies establishing their headquarters or regional representations in the city, which combined with a powerful emerging economic activity (among the largest in the world), important stability and marked cultural, financial and touristic influence, allows it to be considered a global Beta-city according to GaWC1617 and Ibero-American Capital of Culture in 2006.

The name of the city comes in honor of Joseph of Nazareth, Catholic saint who fulfills the role of being the putative father of Jesus and husband of Mary. This is because the town was consecrated to the patronage of this religious figure around 1737. The city was originally known as La Boca del Monte or Villa de San José de la Boca del Monte, a designation that evolved to its current name.

In this way, and as it happened in all the basal provinces of Costa Rica, the name of the current city influenced the name of its province, so that nowadays both are called the same despite being totally different territorial entities.

Likewise, and due to the fact that the patron saint’s first name is José, the city receives the nickname Chepe, which is a linguistic deformation of the nickname Pepe, as well as its variants of San Chepe and Peche (the latter in Spanish), or other generational nicknames such as La tacita de plata or SanJo. Nowadays it is considered that its abbreviation is SJO, mainly due to the city brand.