Costa Rica News – The President of the Republic of China, Xi Jinping and his beautiful wife, arrived in Costa Rica on Sunday, June 2nd. The Chinese president came with very “deep pockets.” China is in the process of loaning almost one million dollars to Costa Rica for the construction of a new oil refinery oat Moin in Limón province.
Indeed, China has been very generous to Costa Rica lately. The country’s national stadium was built at a cost of $100 million and was a gift from the Chinese government. The workers and all of the materials used to build the stadium came from China. In addition, China forked up around one million dollars to help build San Jose’s new China Town and even donated around 8 million dollars for the construction of a new police academy and a whole fleet of Chinese made police cars.
Costa Rica is the only country in Central America that has diplomatic relations with China, and one can see why given the latter’s generosity.
Costa Rica’s Chinese community has always played an important role in shaping the country’s history. It is estimated that the country’s Chinese makes up about one percent of the population. Chinese immigrants first began to arrive in the second half of the nineteenth century and worked as indentured servants in farm labor, domestic service, and the construction of the railroad to the Atlantic coast. Since then, Chinese have continued to migrate in small numbers to Costa Rica.
The original immigrants and their descendants rapidly turned to commercial activities for subsistence, coming to dominate the economy of some communities throughout the country. At present, they constitute an important part of Costa Rican society, with a strong presence in the commercial sector and increasing participation in professional fields and politics. One person of Chinese descent is the current president of the country’s soccer federation and another is a famous astronaut in the United States. Although retaining some aspects of Chinese culture, the majority of the country’s current Chinese are predominantly culturally Hispanic.
Believe it or not many Costa Ricans are chinos (Chinese) although they are not of Chinese descent. Some Hispanics here have narrow eyes and are affectionately called chino or chinito by other Costa Ricans. Chinito has become sort of a nickname to to Costa Ricans who look oriental but are not. So if you hear Costa Ricans calling other ticos chino, don’t think that it is because the person is Chinese. Many retirees and other English speakers are sometimes confused when they hear this nickname and are often not aware that this custom is part of the Costa Rica’s culture.
By Christopher Howard
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Parts of this article was originally published in Christopher Howard’s blog at www.liveincostarica.com/blog