The true birth of Costa Rica as a country came about the original settlement of a few Spaniards over the extension of what we know now as the Central Valley (generally comprising the cities of San Jose, Cartago, Alajuela and Heredia) over the 1600’s and after. However, the origin of the modern layout of the city can be traced to the end of the 1800s and after; when the government made forced settlement of the South East and South West bits of the Valley a compulsory thing for the poor inhabitants of Cartago and Heredia.
Ethnically speaking, the Costarican genome has always presented something of a conundrum. One European traveler that came during the last decades of the 19th century had declared that, in distance, he had spotted maidens of blondish hair that shone in the sunlight, but once having approached these peasant girls, he noticed their skin to be somewhat darker than he expected. Ticos would fall into the category of Castizos (technically referring to that particular breed defined during the time of the Spanish Colonies as that person born three quarters Spanish and one native), however, at this point in time, the line that defines whites from “non-whites” has been greatly blurred. Costaricans themselves pay little notice over ethnicity or ethnic distinctions. It must be noted however, blacks did suffer segregation up until the second half of the 20th century and were not even allowed to cross into the Central Valley by decree.
One must always have in consideration that the people of Costa Rica, in their national identity, have always seen their peers as equals and, it is until now, thanks to globalization and specially since the 1980’s economic recession and immigration of Nicaraguans that, differences have begun to spring and distinctions made.
The population is -numerically speaking- pretty well split in all four natural quadrants of the Valley, nonetheless, portraying different lifestyles depending on the quadrant studied. The Wealthiest bit inhabits the North and South Western Bits (Escazu, Santa Ana), while the poorest bit the Eastern Southern Part (Hatillos, San Sebastian). Currently, the Municipality of San Jose has launched, speared by the efforts of the Mayor Sr. Johnny Araya, a great attempt at trying to have the Downtown sector revitalized and repopulated. A general plan of beautification and improvement of infrastructure and landscaping has been going on for several years already with significant results.