1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cartago

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CARTAGO, the capital of the province of Cartago, in Costa Rica, Central America; 13 m. E.S.E. of San José by the trans-continental railway. Pop. (1900) 4536. Cartago is built 4930 ft. above sea-level, on the fertile and beautiful plateau of San José, and at the southern base of the volcano Irazú (11,200 ft.). Some of its older buildings, especially the churches, are of considerable interest; but all bear marks of the volcanic disturbances from which the town has suffered on many occasions—notably in 1723, when it was nearly overwhelmed by the bursting of the flooded crater of Irazú, and in 1841, when it was shattered by an earthquake. There are hot mineral springs much frequented by invalids at Bella Vista, a suburb connected with the town by a tramway 3 m. long. The local trade is chiefly in coffee of fine quality, which is readily cultivated in the rich volcanic soil of the neighbourhood. Cartago is said to have been in existence as early as 1522; it was probably named in 1563 by the Spaniard Vazquez de Coronado, to whom its foundation is often ascribed. Though several times plundered by buccaneers, it retained its importance as the capital of Costa Rica until 1823, when it is said by tradition to have contained 30,000 inhabitants. Its prosperity rapidly diminished after the transference of the seat of government to San José, in 1823, but somewhat revived with the development of railways after 1871.