Strange as it may seem, three time president Ricardo Jimenez signed a decree which prohibited Blacks from going past the town of Siquirres, considered to be the entrance to the Central Valley from the east. Eventually, the new Constitution of 1949 revoked this antidemocratic decree and since then Blacks have had free access to schools, universities, government jobs throughout the country and are not discriminated upon. Before the execution of this decree, seeing a Black in the Central Intermontane Valley was indeed a rarity. In fact, some children on seeing one, went up to touch him believing he was a white man who had painted himself with charcoal.
Some 70 years ago there existed a curious custom whereby at midnight on December 31st Whites and Blacks would attend a big dance at Siquirres, and a few minutes before 12, would form two lines, one of Whites, the other of Blacks. Exactly at midnight both lines would start fighting throwing punches and kicking something similar to kick boxing. It was a form of getting rid of stress and tensions harboured during the entire year. I understand this annual affair produced no bloodshed and nothing serious except some bruises and minor wounds.
The total Black population of Costa Rica as of July 2000 was 72,784. Although socially some whites still hold a standoffish attitude toward them, many have earned a fine reputation as senators, writers, doctors and lawyers. Others, especially popular high-earning soccer players, have married beautiful white girls. The main core of the Black Population is still concentrated on the Caribbean Coast, a fast growing tourist area which has many ecological attractions, fine Jamaican culinary dishes and Caribbean-style music. The Blacks in the area speak mainly Jamaican English and most are Anglican Protestants. Some of the elderly women still like to wear their straw hats, especially in the hot mid-day sun.
The first Chinese were brought in from San Francisco by Minor Keith to work on his railroad project. Although they weren't able to
withstand the harsh tropical climate and many died on the job, others stayed in the country. At the end of the 19th and early 20th Centuries many were smuggled into the country by way of the port of Puntarenas. These preferred to locate in the provinces of Guanacaste and Puntarenas where they eventually set up their own grocery stores and other small businesses. From the 1950s onward there has been a strong emigration to Costa Rica, many coming from Taiwan and more recently from Hong Kong after the communists took over from the British. Most of these later arrivals chose to stay in the Central Valley where opportunities seemed to be better.