|City and municipality|
Images, from top down, left to right: Alajuela skyline at night, Central Church, Juan Santamaría Statue, Central Park, Municipal Theater, a traditional Costa Rican bullock cart, the Juan Santamaría International Airport, Alejandro Morera Soto Stadium.
|Nickname(s): Ciudad de los Mangos (Spanish)
"City of Mangoes"
|Motto: Pro Patria Nostra - Sanguis Noster (Latin)
"For our country, our blood"
Alajuela and surrounding area
|Location of Alajuela within Costa Rica|
|Coordinates: / 10.017; -84.217|
|• Mayor||Roberto Thompson|
|• City and municipality||8.88 km (3.43 sq mi)|
|Elevation||952 m (3,123 ft)|
|• City and municipality||42,975|
|• Density||4,800/km (13,000/sq mi)|
Alajuela (Spanish pronunciation: [alaˈxwela]) is the second-largest city in Costa Rica after the capital, San José. It is also the capital of Alajuela Province.
Because of its location in the Costa Rican Central Valley, Alajuela is nowadays part of the conurbation of the Great Metropolitan Area. The city is the birthplace of Juan Santamaría, the national hero of Costa Rica and the figure who gives the name to the country's main international airport, which is south of Alajuela downtown.
The limits of the city corresponds formally to the canton's first district limits, even though the city's current population and urban area stretches beyond these limits. The district of Alajuela covers an area of 8.88 km², It lies at an elevation of 952 metres above sea level in the Central Valley, 19 kilometres northwest of San José.
The climate is tropical, typical of the Central Valley, but slightly warmer than San José. Temperatures are moderate, averaging 23–26 degrees Celsius with a low humidity level of 20% almost all year round. Alajuela and its surroundings are famed for having "the best weather in the world".
According to the 2000 Census, the urban area of the city had a population of 123,481 (including the district of Alajuela and the urban population of other districts in Alajuela canton). The population of the district in 2009 was 50,753 people.
In pre-Columbian times the land where the canton of Alajuela is today was part of the Huetar Kingdom of the West, which was inhabited by native tribes, who at the time of the Spanish conquest were led by Chief Garabito.
The first Spanish settlers established settlements in the region in about 1650. In a letter of obligation granted in 1864, the place is mentioned as La Lajuela in the Valley of Barva, near the Canoas river.
In 1777, the dwellers of La Lajuela and Ciruelas, having been served with notice to move to Villa Vieja (today's Heredia), requested the provisional construction of a public place of prayer in the house of Don Dionysius Oconitrillo, of Spanish origin, 30 metres north of where Alajuela's cathedral is today.
After increases of population in the five existing quarters then: Targuaz, Puás, Ciruelas, La Lajuela and Rio Grande, the citizens faced difficulties to maintain their religious obligations, so they requested permission to establish a parish and a public place of prayer from the Bishop of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Monsignor don Esteban Lorenzo de Tristán.
According to a motion issued in the Spanish Parliament of Cádiz on 19 May 1812, the first town hall of Alajuela was founded in 1813. On December 18 of the same year, the La Lajuela quarter obtained the title of town and it was renamed. It was first called "Villa Hermosa", then it was called "San Juan Nepomuceno de Alajuela" and finally the title of city was granted on 20 November 1824 and with it the name "Alajuela" which remains today.
Participation in important historical events by citizens of Alajuela has ensured the city's reputation as a storied place in Costa Rican history. The national hero Juan Santamaría, who died during the campaign in 1856 to remove invaders threatening Costa Rica's sovereignty, was born in Alajuela. This historical event is celebrated and remembered every year on 11 April and it is a national holiday.
The area often experiences earthquakes. The 2009 magnitude 6.1 earthquake caused several landslides.
The main exports of the region are coffee, sugar-cane, maize, beans, tobacco, citrus fruits, strawberries, tubers like cassava, flowers and ornamental plants. Other commercial activities include poultry farming, beekeeping, pig farming and the dairy industry. More recently, Alajuela has seen important investment in free zone parks and heavy industry companies.
Alajuela is an important transport hub for the country, connecting the capital city with northwestern Costa Rica. As a part of the Greater Metropolitan Area, most of the inhabitants of Alajuela work in other cities or regions of the Central Valley, and every day receives residents from other locations to work in local factories. Central America's second busiest airport, Juan Santamaría International Airport, is three kilometres south of the city centre.
Liga Deportiva Alajuelense is the city's major football club, having won 29 league titles. They play their home games at the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto. They share the stadium with another top level club, Carmelita.
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Provincial capitals of Costa Rica
Provinces and cantons of Costa Rica
/ 10.017; -84.217