San José, Costa Rica, the nation's capital and largest city and the seat of San José province. It lies about 3,900 feet (1,190 m) above sea level on the Meseta Central {central plateau), surrounded by mountains with prominent volcanoes. San José is the commercial, cultural, and transportation center of Costa Rica. Coffee, the country's chief export crop, is shipped here from the surrounding area for distribution to coastal ports. San José's manufactured products include consumer goods such as beverages, textiles, and processed foods. Several railways, an international airport, and the Inter-American Highway serve the city.

San José's architecture is a mixture of traditional Spanish and modern. The city has wide avenues flanked by parks and flower gardens, as well as narrow streets suitable only for one-way traffic. Most impressive of the pre-20th-century structures are the National Theater, modeled after the Paris Opera House, and the National Museum, a former fortress. Government buildings include the National Palace, where the legislature meets, and the Municipal Palace, or city hall. The National University has campuses in San José and in the neighboring suburb of San Pedro.

San José was founded in 1737 as a trading center for coffee plantations. It became the national capital in 1823, two years after Costa Rica declared its independence from Spain.

Population: 336,829.