Limón (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈliˈmon]), commonly known as Puerto Limón,[1] is a district,[2][3] the capital city and main hub of Limón province, as well as of the Limón canton in Costa Rica. It is the seventh largest city in Costa Rica, with a population of over 55,000, and is home of the Afro-Costa Rican community.[4] Part of the community traces its roots to Italian, Jamaican and Chinese laborers who worked on a late nineteenth-century railroad project that connected San José to Puerto Limón. Until 1948, the Costa Rican government did not recognize Afro-Caribbean people as citizens and restricted their movement outside Limón province.[5] As a result of this "travel ban", this Afro-Caribbean population became firmly established in the region, which influenced decisions not to move even after it was legally permitted. Nowadays, there is a significant outflow of Limón natives who move to the country's Central Valley in search for better employment and education.[6] The Afro-Caribbean community speaks Spanish and Limonese Creole, a creole of English.

District and city
Limon Costa Rica - Panoramic view.png
Vasgas Park in Costa Rica.PNG
Limon Costa Rica - Historic Catholic Building.png
Limon Costa Rica - 2nd Avenue.png
Limon Costa Rica - MS Zuiderdam.png
Images, from top down, left to right: Panoramic view of Limón, Vargas Park, Playa Bonita, Historic Building of the Baptist Reverend Heath, Onlook of 2nd Avenue, the MS Zuiderdam docked at Limón's Port terminal.
Coat of arms of Limón
Coat of arms
Paz y Trabajo
(Peace and Work)
Puerto Limón and surrounding area
Limón is located in Costa Rica
Location of Puerto Limón within Costa Rica
Coordinates: 10°00′08″N 83°05′03″W / 10.0022155°N 83.0840367°W / 10.0022155; -83.0840367Coordinates: 10°00′08″N 83°05′03″W / 10.0022155°N 83.0840367°W / 10.0022155; -83.0840367
Country Costa Rica
 • SyndicRoger David Navarro Sevilla
 • Total59.51 km2 (22.98 sq mi)
3 m (10 ft)
 • Total61,072
 • Density1,000/km2 (2,700/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−06:00
Postal code

Puerto Limón contains three port terminals, Moín Container Terminal, Limón and Moín, which permit the shipment of Costa Rican exports as well as the anchoring of cruise ships. In 2016, the government pledged ₡93 million ($166,000) for a new cruise ship terminal for Puerto Limón.[7]

Health care is provided for the city by Hospital Dr. Tony Facio Castro.[8] Two small islands, Uvita Island and Isla de Pájaros, are just offshore.


Limón is the word in Spanish for the lemon fruit.


Limón has an area of 59.51 km²[9] and an elevation of 3 metres.[2]


  • Barrios: Bellavista, Bohío, Bosque, Buenos Aires, Cangrejos, Cariari, Cerro Mocho, Cielo Amarillo, Cieneguita, Colina, Corales (1,2 and 3), Cruce, Fortín, Garrón, Hospital, Jamaica Town, Japdeva, Laureles, Limoncito, Lirios, Moín, Piuta, Portete, Pueblo Nuevo, San Juan, Santa Eduvigis, Trinidad, Veracruz
  • Poblados: Buenos Aires, Cocal, Dos Bocas, Empalme Moín, Milla Nueve, Santa Rosa, Valle La Aurora, Villas del Mar Uno, Villas del Mar Dos, Villa Hermosa



Christopher Columbus first dropped anchor in Costa Rica in 1502 at Isla Uvita, just off the coast of Puerto Limón. The Atlantic coast, however, was left largely unexplored by Spanish settlers until the 19th century.

As early as 1569, Governor Perafán de Rivera gave extensive plots of land, Indians included, in Matina to aristocrats (hidalgos) that helped to finance and support early conquest. Because these aristocrats found out that only a few Indians were available to exploit, they acquired African slaves to plant these lands with cocoa trees (the only feasible crop in these lands). These lands provided the only source of income to the absentee owners from the capital city of Cartago. Matina gained importance because of the cacao and the presence of African slaves, which made them attractive to pirate incursions.

Notorious pirates, Edward Mansvelt and his vice admiral Henry Morgan, arrived at Portete, a small bay between Limón and Moín, in 1666. They proceeded inland to Cartago, the capital of Costa Rica at the time, but were driven away by the inhabitants at Turrialba on 15 April. The pirate army left on 16 April and arrived back in Portete on 23 April. They left Costa Rica and did not return.[10]


The town was officially founded in 1854 by Philipp J. J. Valentini under government auspices.[11] In 1867, construction began on an ambitious railroad connecting the highlands to the sea. Limón was chosen as the site of a major port, which would facilitate exports of the coffee from the Central Valley.[12]

Recent historyEdit

23 residents of Limón working on the docks lost their lives on 3 July 1942 when the cargo ship they were unloading was torpedoed by U-boat U 161 and sank fast at the bottom of the port. Most of the crew was ashore and only one perished.[13]

As a district Limón was last modified on 10 August 1992 by Decreto Ejecutivo 21515-G.[3]

Puerto Limón was struck by the 1991 Limon earthquake, which affected the surrounding landscape and coastline.


Historical population
Census Pop.

Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos[14]
Centro Centroamericano de Población[15]

For the 2011 census, Limón had a population of 61,072 inhabitants.[16]

Afro-Costa RicanEdit

The first officially acknowledged arrival of African people who arrived in Costa Rica came with the Spanish conquistadors. Slave trade was common in all the countries conquered by Spain, and in Costa Rica the first Africans seem to have come from specific sources in Africa- Equatorial and Western regions. The people from these areas were thought of as ideal slaves because they had a reputation for being more robust, affable and hard-working than other Africans. The enslaved were from what is now the Gambia (Wolof), Guinea (Malinké), Ghanaian (Ashanti), Benin (specifically Ije / Ararás) and Sudan (Puras). Many of the enslaved were also Minas (i.e. communities from parts of the region extending from Ivory Coast to the Slave Coast), Popo (be imported tribes as Ana and Baribas), Yorubas and Congas (perhaps from Kongasso, Ivory Coast). Enslaved Africans also came from other places, such as neighboring Panama. Throughout the centuries, but especially after the emancipation of the slaves in 1824, the black population mixed with other ethnic groups, notably the Indians, and became part of the mainstream culture and ethnicity.

The early black population of Matina and Suerre in Limón is not the same population that arrived in the second half of the 19th century. This latter population did not arrive as slaves but as hired workers from Jamaica, and smaller groups from Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. This is the reason why the majority of the current black population of Costa Rica has English surnames and speak English with a Jamaican accent.

In 1910, Marcus Mosiah Garvey travelled to Puerto Limón, where he worked as a time-keeper for the United Fruit Company for some months, observing that the population of African descent suffered poor conditions.[17]

The descendant of Africans in Costa Rica have endured discrimination including a delay in voting rights and a restriction on their movements.


Puerto Limón is famous in Costa Rica for its yearly fall festival called carnaval which occurs the week of 12 October, the date Columbus first anchored off Limón's coast in 1502, on his fourth voyage. The event was started by local community leader and activist, Alfred Josiah Henry Smith (known as "Mister King"), who helped organize the first carnaval in October 1949.[18] The event stretches about a week (across two weekends), and includes a parade, food, music, dancing, and, on the last night, a concert in the Parque Vargas headlined by a major Latino or Caribbean music act. Previous artists have included Eddy Herrera (2002), Damian Marley (2003), El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico (2005), and T.O.K. (2006).

Although the show goes on rain or shine, the event has recently suffered some setbacks. Organizers cancelled carnaval in 2007 due to a major dengue outbreak,[19] and again in 2008 due to major municipal trash-removal issues and related health worries.[12] While trash removal had long been an issue due to lack of trucks and a 62-mile (100 km) haul to the nearest landfill (in Pococí), the ordered closure of this and other landfills in 2007 meant Puerto Limón had to send trash 135 miles (217 km) to Alajuela and pay a higher disposal fee.[20][21][22] The situation led to a bottle-neck in trash removal, which, combined with the major dengue breakout, caused organizers to cancel 2008's carnaval as a precautionary measure.[12] Given the severity of the situation, the city bought land in nearby Santa Rosa and, in April 2009, opened its own landfill (called El Tomatal).[22] Given the improved situation, carnaval picked up in 2009 after its two-year hiatus.


Limón features a trade-wind tropical rainforest climate (Af) under Köppen's climate classification. Average temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the year averaging around 26 °C (79 °F). Common to all cities with this climate, Limón has no discernible dry season. Its driest month (September) averages roughly 140 millimetres or 5.5 inches of rainfall while the wettest month (December) averages just below 450 millimetres or 18 inches of rain. Limon averages nearly 3,600 millimetres or 140 inches of rainfall annually.

Climate data for Limón International Airport, Costa Rica
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32.9
Average high °C (°F) 28.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 24.8
Average low °C (°F) 20.7
Record low °C (°F) 12.9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 319.7
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 17 14 14 14 16 16 20 16 11 13 17 18 186
Average relative humidity (%) 87 86 85 85 87 87 89 87 86 87 88 88 87
Mean monthly sunshine hours 155.0 152.6 179.8 171.0 164.3 135.0 117.8 145.7 159.0 164.3 135.0 142.6 1,822.1
Mean daily sunshine hours 5.0 5.4 5.8 5.7 5.3 4.5 3.8 4.7 5.3 5.3 4.5 4.6 5.0
Source 1: Instituto Meteorologico Nacional (precipitation 1941–2012, temperatures 1970–2012, sun 1969–2012, humidity 1970–2012)[23]
Source 2: Meteo Climat (extremes, 1941–present)[24]


Road transportationEdit

The district is covered by the following road routes:


Limón is served by the Pablo Zidar International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Pablo Zidar, Limón), IATA code LIO, an airstrip which is 1,800 m (5,900 ft) long by 30 m (98 ft) wide, 2 m (6.6 ft) above sea level, on the coast south of the city.[25] The Presidency Ministry announced in June 2011 that Sansa Airlines would begin regular scheduled flights four times a week to Limón Airport, beginning in July and costing ₡30,000–₡75,000 ($60–$150), to increase tourism to Limón Province.[26][27][28]


The city's football team is Limón F.C., after a local business man took over the franchise of Limonense. They play their home games at the Estadio Juan Gobán.

Notable peopleEdit

Sister cityEdit


2004 picture of the amphitheater at the Balvanero Vargas Park, a landmark of the city
A 2015 picture shows the evident abandonment suffered by the amphitheater
In October 2019, residents and local companies joined in order to restore it


  1. ^ limón Span¡shD!ct. Retrieved: 11 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Declara oficial para efectos administrativos, la aprobación de la División Territorial Administrativa de la República N°41548-MGP". Sistema Costarricense de Información Jurídica (in Spanish). 19 March 2019. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b División Territorial Administrativa de la República de Costa Rica (PDF) (in Spanish). Editorial Digital de la Imprenta Nacional. 8 March 2017. ISBN 978-9977-58-477-5.
  4. ^ Censo Nacional de oblación. Características Sociales y Demográficas, 2002
  5. ^ The History of Costa Rica
  6. ^ What Happen: A Folk-History of Costa Rica's Talamanca Coast
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Quienes Somos: Hospital Regional Dr. Tony Facio Castro" Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Retrieved: 2012-03-07. (in Spanish)
  9. ^ "Área en kilómetros cuadrados, según provincia, cantón y distrito administrativo". Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  10. ^ Crónicas Coloniales Archived 22 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine Ricardo Fernández Guardia, 1921.
  11. ^ Encyclopedia Americana (1918–1920), Vol. XXVII, pp. 645–46 online version at Internet Archive (last viewed 24 May 2011)
  12. ^ a b c Crisis por basura obliga a suspender carnavales
  13. ^ "San Pablo (Panamanian Steam merchant) - Ships hit by German U-boats during WWII -". Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  14. ^ "Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos" (in Spanish).
  15. ^ "Sistema de Consulta de a Bases de Datos Estadísticas". Centro Centroamericano de Población (in Spanish).
  16. ^ "Censo. 2011. Población total por zona y sexo, según provincia, cantón y distrito". Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  17. ^ Marcus Garvey in Port Limon Archived 1 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Limón despidió a su Mister King con respeto y carnaval
  19. ^ Dengue obliga a cancelar los carnavales de Limón
  20. ^ Barrios de Limón siguen repletos de basura
  21. ^ Inició recolección de 360 toneladas de basura en calles limonenses
  22. ^ a b Nuevo relleno sanitario recibirá y tratará la basura del Caribe
  23. ^ "Descripción del clima: Cantón de Limón" (in Spanish). Instituto Meteorologico Nacional. Archived from the original on 31 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  24. ^ "Station Puerto Limon" (in French). Meteo Climat. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  25. ^ Limón Airport at Great Circle Mapper
  26. ^ New flights to Limón seek to drive up tourism Archived 19 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine The Tico Times, 14 June 2011.
  27. ^ Turismo podrá volar a Limón a partir de julio Archived 31 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine La Nación, 15 June 2011.
  28. ^ Airport photographs Archived 5 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit