Costa Rica has now joined the list of some 100 countries around the world to have a Chinatown or Barrio Chino as it is known in Spanish. On Wednesday the Municipalidad de San José put the official seal on the project in a ceremony that included Costa Rican president, Oscar Arias, Municipalidad de San José mayor, Johnny Araya and the mayor of Beijing, Guo Jinlong.
The project had a total cost of ¢800 million colones (US$1.6 million dollars), of which ¢500 million was donated by the government of China and the rest coming from municipal coffers.
The boulevard around the “Paseo de los estudiantes” area is 550 metres long that includes two dozen Chinese shops, that represents a piece of China in the heart of San José.
There is a sizeable Chinese community in the Puntarenas area and San José. Recent Chinese immigrants are coming from Taiwan, many of whom have established businesses in Costa Rica.
The new Chinatown includes a 550-metre pedestrian boulevard and a Tang Dynasty-style archway. This new Chinatown development will include restaurants serving oriental food and retail stores selling oriental artifacts, medication and other products. With the opening of Chinatown, between Avenidas 2 an 14, downtown San José now has 5 kilometres of vehicle free boulevards.
Costa Rica’s Barrio Chino is the first in Central America.
In Nicaragua, the Chinese Nicaraguan community is centred around Managua and the Caribbean coast, most notably in Bluefields and Puerto Cabezas. Many Chinese immigrants are present, most of who are from mainland China and also from Taiwan. The Chinese first arrived in Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, where most settled in cities such as Bluefields, El Bluff, Laguna de Perlas, and Puerto Cabezas. Then in the late 19th century began migrating to the Pacific lowlands of the country, mainly Managua. Many Chinese in Nicaragua committed themselves to the commerce industry and opened up businesses. They also dedicated themselves to the candy, soap, and clothing industries.
In Guatemala there is a Chinese community on “Sexta Calle” (6th. Street), between 3rd. and 4th. Avenue in Zone 1, in Guatemala City.
A Chinatown is an ethnic enclave of expatriate Chinese people. Chinatowns exist throughout the world, including Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Americas, Australasia, and Europe. Many Chinatowns are considered significant centres of commerce and tourism while some also serve, to varying degrees, as centres of multiculturalism, while some Chinatowns are actual living and working communities; many are in fact a synergetic synthesis of both.
Binondo’s Chinatown located in Manila, Philippines is the oldest Chinatown, established in 1594
Chinatowns in Latin America developed with the rise of Chinese immigration in the 19th century to various countries in Latin America as contract labourers (i.e., indentured servants) in agricultural and fishing industries. Most came from Guangdong Province. Since the 1970s, the new arrivals have typically hailed from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
Latin American Chinatowns may include the descendants of original migrants — often of mixed Chinese and Latino parentage — and more recent immigrants from East Asia. Most Asian Latin Americans are of Cantonese and Hakka origin. Estimates widely vary on the number of Chinese Descendants in Latin America but it is at least 1.4 million and likely much greater than this..
Unlike the Chinatowns of Anglo America and Europe, pure-blood ethnic Chinese were relatively few in number but now increasing rapidly due to generally lower levels of Chinese immigration to some parts of Latin America. Residents of Latin American Chinatowns tend to be multilingual. Latin America’s Chinatowns include those of Mexico City, Havana, Buenos Aires, Lima and now San José.
Some of these Chinatowns mainly serve as tourist attractions and not as true, living ethnic communities.