The southern coast is the heart and soul of Costa Rica’s Afro-Caribbean community. Jamaican workers arrived in the middle of the 19th century, and stayed to build the railroad and work for the United Fruit corporation. Also in this area, to the interior, are some of the country’s most prominent indigenous groups – cultures that have managed to remain intact despite several centuries’ worth of incursions, first from the Spanish, later from the fruit industry and currently from the globalizing effects of tourism. They principally inhabit the Cocles/Kèköldi, Talamanca Cabécar and Bribrí indigenous territories.
Naturally, this fascinating cultural bubble couldn’t remain isolated forever. Since the 1980s the southern coast has seen the arrival of surfers, backpackers and adventurous families on holiday – many of whom have stayed, adding Italian, German and North American flavors to the cultural stew. For the traveler, it's a rich and rewarding experience – with lovely beaches to boot.