|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
Costa Rica is administratively divided into seven provinces which are subdivided into 82 cantons, and these are further subdivided into districts. Cantons are the only administrative division in Costa Rica that possess local government in the form of municipalities. Each municipality has its own mayor and several representatives, all of them chosen via municipal elections every four years.
Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica, is a sovereign state in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. It has a population of around 5 million in a land area of 51,060 square kilometers. An estimated 333,980 people live in the capital and largest city, San José with around 2 million people in the surrounding metropolitan area.
According to Article 168 of the Constitution of Costa Rica, the political divisions are officially classified into 3 tiers of sub-national entities.
A canton is a type of administrative division of a country. In general, cantons are relatively small in terms of area and population when compared with other administrative divisions such as counties, departments, or provinces. Internationally, the best-known cantons - and the most politically important - are those of Switzerland. As the constituents of the Swiss Confederation, theoretically, the Swiss cantons are semi-sovereign states.
The original 14 cantons were established in 1848, and the number has risen gradually by the division of existing cantons. Law no. 4366 of 19 August 1969, which outlines the creation of administrative divisions of Costa Rica, states that new cantons may only be created if they have at least one percent of the republic's total population, which was 4,301,712 as of the last census (2011). The last new canton, Río Cuarto, was created on March 30, 2017.
Río Cuarto is the 16th canton of the province of Alajuela, Costa Rica.
The largest canton by population is the capital San José with a population of 288,054. The smallest canton by population is Turrubares with 5,512 residents. The largest canton by land area is San Carlos, which spans 3,347.98 km2 (1,292.66 sq mi), while the smallest is Flores at 6.96 km2 (2.69 sq mi).
San José is the first canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 44.62 km² and has a population of 288,054. It includes the national capital city of San José.
Turrubares is the 16th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 415.29 square kilometres (160.34 sq mi), and has a population of 5,175, making it the least populated of the 81 cantons in Costa Rica. The capital city of the canton is San Pablo.
San Carlos is the 10th canton in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 3,347.98 square kilometres (1,292.66 sq mi), making it the largest canton in the country. It has a population of 178,460. ranking it fifth.
Each canton is controlled by a government unit called Municipalidad.The term reflects the fact that the cantons in Costa Rica have approximately the same function as municipios ("municipalities") in many other Spanish-speaking countries. This administrative unit consists of two bodies: a municipal executive (Concejo Municipal) and an executive body which only consists of a mayor (alcalde / alcaldesa municipal), a title that was introduced in 1998.
The mayor's main duties are to liaise with the municipal council, district councils and the entire administrative apparatus of the canton, and to approve and implement the decisions taken by the municipal council.The number of members of the municipal council varies from one canton to another, and they are elected by local elections held every four years. The head of the council is titled the municipal president (presidente municipal). The council's main task is to manage the canton at the local level, and is responsible for planning basic policies and establishing budgets. More specifically, the responsibilities include urban and agricultural planning and organizing cultural affairs, health care, education and industry. Each municipal president appoints a number of working commissions that deal with issues specific to the municipality.
San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and the capital of the province of the same name. It is located in the centre of the country, specifically in the mid-west of the Central Valley, and contained within San José Canton. San José is the seat of national government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and the major transportation hub of Costa Rica. The population of San José Canton was 288,054 in 2011, and San José’s municipal land area measures 44.2 square kilometers, with an estimated 333,980 residents in 2015. Together with several other cantons of the central valley including Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago it forms the Greater Metropolitan Area of the country, with an estimated population of over 2 million in 2017. The city is named in honor of Joseph of Nazareth.
Alajuela is the second largest city in Costa Rica. It is also the capital of Alajuela Province.
Desamparados is the capital city of Desamparados Canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. It is also the name of the distrito (district) that includes the city. The district of Desamparados covers an area of 3.03 km², and has a population of 31,654.
National Capital and Provincial Capital
|Change||Land area (km²)||Population density||Incorporation date|
| San José ||San José||288,054||309,672||−7.0%||44.62||6,455.7/km2||1848|
|Santa Ana||San José||49,123||34,507||+42.4%||61.42||799.8/km2||1907|
|Vásquez de Coronado||San José||60,486||55,585||+8.8%||222.20||272.2/km2||1910|
|Montes de Oca||San José||49,132||50,433||−2.6%||15.16||3,240.9/km2||1915|
|Pérez Zeledón||San José||134,534||122,187||+10.1%||1,905.51||70.6/km2||1931|
|León Cortés Castro||San José||12,200||11,696||+4.3%||120.80||101.0/km2||1961|
| Alajuela ||Alajuela||254,886||222,853||+14.4%||758.32||336.1/km2||1848|
| Cartago ||Cartago||147,898||132,057||+12.0%||287.77||513.9/km2||1848|
| Heredia ||Heredia||123,616||103,894||+19.0%||282.60||437.4/km2||1848|
| Liberia ||Guanacaste||62,987||46,703||+34.9%||1,436.47||43.8/km2||1848|
| Puntarenas ||Puntarenas||115,019||102,504||+12.2%||1,842.33||62.4/km2||1862|
|Montes de Oro||Puntarenas||12,950||11,159||+16.0%||244.76||52.9/km2||1915|
| Limón ||Limón||94,415||89,933||+5.0%||1,765.79||53.5/km2||1909|
Tibás is the 13th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 8.15 km², and has a population of 76,815. The capital city of the canton is San Juan.
Escazú is the second canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 34.49 km². The canton lies west of the San José Canton and its whole territory is part of San José Metropolitan Area. According to 2011 census data, its population is 56,509.
Desamparados is the 3rd canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 118.26 km², and has a population of 206,708, making it the third most populated among the 81 cantons of Costa Rica. The capital city of the canton is also called Desamparados.
Puriscal is the 4th canton in the province of San José, Costa Rica. In Spanish, a "puriscal" is the flower of the common bean. The capital city of the canton is Santiago (de Puriscal).
Montes de Oca is the 15th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 15.16 square kilometres (5.85 sq mi), and has a population of 54,288. The capital city of the canton is San Pedro.
Zarcero is the 11th canton in Alajuela, a province in Costa Rica. It is located west of the Costa Rican Central Valley, 67 kilometres (42 mi) northeast of the national capital, San José. The region covers an area of 155.13 square kilometers (59.90 sq mi), and is divided into seven districts. To the north, the region borders canton San Carlos, to the south it borders canton Naranjo, to the east it borders canton Valverde Vega and to the west it borders the canton San Ramón. Zarcero was founded on June 21, 1915, and was originally given the name "Alfaro Ruiz" in remembrance of Juan Alfaro Ruíz, a hero from the National Campaign of 1856, or Filibuster War. The capital of the canton is the city of Zarcero.
La Unión is the third canton in the province of Cartago in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 44.83 km2 (17.31 sq mi), and has a population of 85,506.
Belén is the seventh canton in the province of Heredia in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 12.15 km², and has a population of 21,085. The capital city of the canton is San Antonio. The area is well known locally for its inland chalk cliffs.
León Cortés, also known as León Cortés Castro, is the 20th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 120.80 square kilometres (46.64 sq mi). Its estimated population as of 2009 was 13,285. The capital city of the canton is San Pablo.
Curridabat is the 18th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 15.95 square kilometres (6.16 sq mi), and has a population of 72,564. The capital city of the canton is also called Curridabat.
Moravia is the 14th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 28.62 km², and had a total population of 56,919 people at the 2011 Census. The capital city of the canton is San Vicente.
Acosta is the 12th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 242.24 km2 (93.53 sq mi), and has a population of 19,342. The capital city of the canton is San Ignacio.
Dota is the 17th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 400.22 square kilometres (154.53 sq mi), and has a population of 6,940. The capital city of the canton is Santa María.
Alajuelita is the 10th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 21.17 km², and has a population of 75,418. The capital city of the canton is Alajuelita.
Goicoechea is the eighth canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 31.5 km2 (12.2 sq mi), and has a population of 124,704. The capital city of the canton is Guadalupe.
Aserrí is the 6th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 167.10 km², and has a population of 52,808. The capital city of the canton is also called Aserrí.
Tarrazú is the 5th canton in the province of San José in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 297.50 km², and has a population of 17,233 The capital city of the canton is San Marcos.
Limón is the first canton in the province of Limón in Costa Rica. The canton covers an area of 1,765.79 km², and has a population of 97,102. Its capital is the provincial capital city of Puerto Limón.