Cartago is a province in the central region of Costa Rica. It borders the provinces of Limon to the east and San Jose to the west. Cartago is the capital city of the province, and it was for some time the capital city for the country, until this was moved to San Jose in 1823. The province covers an area of 3,124.61 km2, with a population of 461,163. The province is divided in eight cantons, or counties.
- La Union
- El Guarco
Cartago is one of the smallest provinces in Costa Rica, but it might be the one the richest history of colonial traditions. The highest point in the province is Cerro de la Muerte, with its peak 3,600 m above sea level; the lowest point is the county of Turrialba, just 90 m above sea level.
The city of Cartago received its Coat of Arms from King Phillip II of Spain in 1565, and the title of "Most Noble and Most Loyal" city by the Spanish Courts in 1814. It was Costa Rica's first capital city until 1823, when Gregorio Jose Ramirez decided to have the capital moved to San Jose. This was due to the fact that the people of Cartago wanted to join Iturbide's Mexican Empire, while San Jose and Alajuela favored independence.
Cartago has been hit by several big earthquakes throughout its history, in 1822, 1841 and 1910. In 1963, the eruption of Irazu volcano, which covered San Jose and other areas in the country's Central Valley with dust and ashes for two years, seriously affected the farmlands in Cartago, although the city itself did not suffer much from the volcanic activity.
Cartago is well known for its ecological diversity and by its dense tropical rainforests, particularly around Turrialba and Irazu volcanoes.