Alajuela is the number 1 canton of the province of Alajuela, Costa Rica. It is located in the Central Valley of the country. It has an area of 388.43 km² and is divided into 14 districts. It borders on the east with the cantons of Sarapiquí, Heredia, Belén and Santa Bárbara, on the south with Santa Ana and Mora, on the west with Athens, Greece, Poás and Valverde Vega, and on the north with the Cantón de Río Cuarto. It was founded on December 7,1848. Its head is the city of Alajuela. According to the 2011 National Census, the population of the canton was 254,886 inhabitants, of which 10.1% were born abroad.
The same census highlights that there were 72,031 occupied dwellings, of which 68.9% were in good condition and there were problems of overcrowding in 4.3% of the dwellings.88.0% of its inhabitants lived in urban areas. Among other data, the literacy level of the canton is 98.2%, with an average schooling of 8.7 years. For the year 2012, it had a high rate of human development according to the United Nations Development Program. The main axis of the canton is the city of Alajuela, the second most populated city in the country after the national capital, San José. In Alajuela is the main airport in Costa Rica, the Juan Santamaría International Airport, named in this way in honor of the national hero born in Alajuela. The canton has an economy based on trade and services. In agriculture, coffee and sugarcane are mainly produced.
The majority of the production of fattening and milk cattle takes place in the regions neighboring the canton. Alajuela is the seat of industries, manufacturing companies, cooperatives and free zones. It is also a center for recreational, tourist, sports and cultural activities. The city of Alajuela has six large buildings of great architectural value: the Alajuela Cathedral, the Alajuela Institute building, the old barracks, the house of the former president of Costa Rica, General Tomás Guardia Gutiérrez, the Municipal Palace and the Municipal Theater. Alajuela is the gateway to two of the most important national parks in the country: the Poás and Arenal volcanoes.