San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica. The undisputed cultural and economic center of Costa Rica's central valley, where most of the population lives, San José is also the most important transportation hub for domestic travel even though the international airport is in Alajuela. Many international visitors bypass San José altogether or spend only the time it takes to change from one bus to another, but its museums, cultural output and the opportunity to meet the "real Costa Rica" make it well worth staying a few days.
San José is on a plateau in the Central Valley at 1,200 m (3,900 ft) elevation. It is ringed by lush green mountains and valleys. The population of the Central Valley - which could be described as the San José metro area - is probably half of the whole country. It is served by the primary airport (which is in nearby Alajuela) the University of Costa Rica, most if not all embassies, and many museums, cultural venues, hotels, markets, etc. It is the hub of the country.
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