Museo Nacional de Costa Rica
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Diversity and Cultural Gathering

Costa Rica : Diversity and Gathering

“Since the beginning of times,
There was always someone before us,
Someone we replaced,
Someone who alienated us,
Someone we fought,
And someone who we finally mingled with.”

Victor Hugo Acuna
“An Immigrant's Praise,” 1999

Most Costa Ricans are descendents of Spanish commissioners as well as indigenous people, of masters as well as slaves, of conquerors as well as conquered ones. The crossbreeding process between indigenous inhabitants, Spaniards, and Afro-descendents, with their array of shades and cultural syncretism has manifested in several regions of the country since colonial times until today. Though not all migrations have been as numerous, all of them have been as meaningful regarding cultural features to ultimately comply with the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Costa Rica we live in now.

Indigenous people

The demographic crisis originated by warfare, diseases and exploitation did not completely destroy Pre-Columbian indigenous societies. Their heirs are bribris and cabecars in Talamanca, borucas , terrabas or teribes and guaymies in the South, malekus in the North, chorotegas in Matambu, Nicoya , and huetares in Quitirrisi.


Coming from the Spain used to seven centuries of war against the Arabs, the Spaniards conquered America by blood and cross. From their language, religion and way to see the world we, Costa Ricans, nourish a good deal of our lives.


The first Africans were brought as slaves to Costa Rica due to the decrease in the indigenous populations during the conquest and colonization of America . Later, when the railroad to the Atlantic was started and the banana plantations were developed, a new wave of Afro-descendents came from the Antilles and enriched diversity in the Costa Rican people.


Seeking for new opportunities they were unable to find due to extreme poverty and overpopulation in their country, the Chinese immigrated to Costa Rica in the middle of the XIX century to work in some of the haciendas at the Central Valley . When the railroad to the Atlantic was being built, the Chinese population increased and reoriented, later, their economic activities into commercial businesses, especially in Limon and Puntarenas.

Central Americans

In Central American history, there has been constant migration between countries. The movement increased considerably since the decade of the 1980s, time when many Central American brothers and sisters, especially Nicaraguans, fled from war looking for refuge in our country. During the last decade, migration has taken massive characteristics because now they flee from another infamous situation: poverty.

Other migrations

By the end of the XIX century and beginning of the XX, Spanish, Italians, Arabs, Jews, and Hindis, came, some, looking for work at the railway construction and others, running away from the economic crisis, prosecution or war in their countries. Other Europeans and Americans also arrived and contributed in commercial activities in the middle and high classes mainly.

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