What is a Canton?

What is a Canton?

An administrative region equal to a county or a district.

In Costa Rica, there is no such concept as “state” or “governor”. Instead of those, we have “cantones” and “alcaldes”. Our provinces are merely created for the sorting of how many “diputados” each area can elect, some sort of congress members for the “Asamblea Legislativa” where laws and budgets are discussed.

These are smaller areas than provinces which were created to concentrate a population that has similar economic activities and geography. But that is only on the paper because, to be honest, the administrative division of Costa Rica is a total mess. Most cantons were created hundreds of years ago when Costa Rica was mostly a rural country.

Why cantons are important

Yet, Costa Ricans have to live with this mess and pay taxes to these local governments called “Municipalidades”. These taxes are invested in roads, bridges, social programs, institutions with specific functions like helping homeless people, water distribution, among others.
Of course, cantons are divided into districts, way shorter zones, useful to differentiate one zone from another for administrative purposes.
In addition, cantons have their own electoral process, where inhabitants can choose the mayor and the “regidores”. These “regidores” are members of the local council where projects and budgets are discussed.

Still, I’ll be using these administrative divisions to discover the country piece by piece. There are 81 cantons, the most recent canton created was just declared as such 8 years ago, which is Rio Claro.

I want to visit your canton

In conclusion, the idea of this article is to explain what is a canton, because it will be very important for visitors of this site to understand about the roads and places I’ll be visiting will be inside the canton boundaries. Some cantons are really famous inside and outside Costa Rica and people feel very identified with them.
I want to help people grow this sense of belonging to their canton. This country is beautiful, and every canton adds something to the diversity and splendor of the whole.

Finally, If you want to know more about cantons in Costa Rica from the administrative point of view visit this article on Wikipedia

map of covid cases in costa rica by cantonCantons are important to measure the impact of different illnesses in the country.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia and user ROQZ