San José: the capital of a land of plenty
Midway between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, in the heart of a volcanic chain that crosses the country from north to south, San José occupies a major place in the genuine earthly paradise that is Costa Rica.
San José is one of the most liveable capitals in Central America. It is a good starting point before taking off to explore Costa Rica, or a perfect final stopover before leaving. Dominated by the modern architecture of its office buildings, shops, and homes, the city does nonetheless possess more traditional neighbourhoods containing venerable Hispanic-style houses, built in the late 19th century by wealthy families.
Districts such as the Amón and Otoya barrios, or the city centre, lend themselves to strolling. Such a walk takes you from a pedestrian shopping street to an art gallery, a design concept store to a trendy bar, or from a gourmet restaurant to the elegant National Theatre. The human-sized capital testifies to the wealth of Costa Rica not only through its two emblematic museums-one dedicated to pre-Columbian gold and one dedicated to jade –but also through its central market, which brings together the many flavours of the country.
Costa Rica, small in size and large in terms of natural heritage, has made biodiversity a well-guarded national treasure, protected by 28 national parks and many private reserves covering a total of a quarter of the country's surface. Environmental actions have resulted in a certification system for sustainable tourism and are indicated by the initials CST (Certification for Sustainable Tourism) and a tree leaf-shaped logo. Visitors who choose the certified facilities respect and encourage the efforts of Costa Rica in its development of ecotourism.
San José is entirely warranted waving the green flag of an ecological city watching over fauna and flora among the richest in the world, as well as a Costa-Rican population of just over 5 million inhabitants, affectionately nicknamed ‘Ticos’.
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