Asian Latin Americans

For the Latino population of Asian descent living in or native to the United States, see Asian Hispanic and Latino Americans. For the population in Asia of Latin American descent, see Latin American Asian.
Asian Latin Americans
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Brazil 2,200,000[1][2]
 Peru 1,560,000
 Venezuela 500,000
 Mexico 350,000
 Colombia 200,000
 Argentina 195,000
 Panama 140,000

Romance Languages:
Spanish · Portuguese · French
Asian Languages:

Caribbean Hindustani · Chinese · Tamil · Japanese · Korean · Punjabi · Filipino · Hindustani · Vietnamese
Buddhism · Christianity · Hinduism · Islam · Shintoism · Sikhism · Taoism

Asian Latin Americans are Latin Americans of East Asian, Southeast Asian or South Asian descent. Asian Latin Americans have a centuries-long history in the region, starting with Filipinos in the 16th century. The peak of Asian immigration occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries, however. There are currently more than four million Asian Latin Americans, nearly 1% of Latin America's population. Chinese and Japanese are the group's largest ancestries; other major ones include Filipinos, Koreans, and Indians. Brazil is home to the largest population of Asian Latin Americans, at some 2.2 million.[3][4] The highest ratio of any country in the region is 5%,[5] in Peru. There has been notable emigration from these communities in recent decades, so that there are now hundreds of thousands of people of Asian Latin American origin in both Japan and the United States.


The first Asian Latin Americans were Filipinos who made their way to Latin America (primarily to Cuba and Mexico, and secondarily to Colombia, Panama and Peru) in the 16th century, as sailors, crews, prisoners, slaves, adventurers and soldiers during the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines. For two and a half centuries (between 1565 and 1815) many Filipinos sailed on the Manila-Acapulco Galleons, assisting in the Spanish Empire's monopoly in trade. Some of these sailors never returned to the Philippines, and many of their descendants can be found in small communities around Baja California, Sonora, Mexico City, Peru and others, thus making Filipinos the oldest Asian ethnic group in Latin-America.

In the 19th century, thousands of Indian labourers of Tamil descent from the Indian French colonial settlements of Madras, Pondichéry, Chandernagor and Karikal were brought to French Guiana, Guadeloupe & Martinique to work in plantations.

Most Chinese-Latin Americans descended from the Coolie slave trade, and most are found in the Caribbean, especially in Cuba, and Peru. They are also closely related to Afro-Asian people in Latin America.

Most Asians, however, arrived in the 19th and 20th century as contract workers or economic migrants. Today, the overwhelming majority of Asian Latin Americans are of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean descent. Japanese migration mostly came to a halt after World War II (with the exception of Japanese settlement in the Dominican Republic), while Korean migration mostly came to an end by the 1980s (though it still continues in Guatemala) and Chinese migration remains ongoing in a number of countries.

Settlement of war refugees has been extremely minor: a few dozen ex-North Korean soldiers went to Argentina and Chile after the Korean War,[6][7] and some Hmong went to French Guiana after the Vietnam War.[8]

Geographic distribution

Four and a half million Latin Americans (almost 1% of the total population of Latin America) are of Asian descent. The number may be millions higher, even more so if all who have partial ancestry are included. For example, Asian Peruvians are estimated at 5%[5] of the population there, but one source places the number of all Peruvians with at least some Chinese ancestry at 5 million, which equates to 20% of the country's total population.[9]

Most who are of Japanese descent reside in Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, and Paraguay while significant populations of Chinese ancestry are found in Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Cuba, Guyana, Dominican Republic, Panama, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Costa Rica (where they make up about 1% of the total population). Nicaragua is home to 12,000 ethnic Chinese; the majority reside in Managua and on the Caribbean coast. Smaller communities of Chinese, numbering just in the hundreds or thousands, are also found in Ecuador and various other Latin American countries. The largest Korean communities are in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala, Paraguay, Colombia, Ecuador and Chile. There are around 12,918 living in Guatemala. There is also a Hmong community in Argentina. The French Overseas Departments of French Guiana, Guadeloupe & Martinique have large populations of people of Tamil Indian descent. Colombia, Chile, Panama and Venezuela also have small Asian Indian communities.

Japanese Peruvians have a considerable economic position in Peru.[10] Many past and present Peruvian Cabinet members are ethnic Asians, but most particularly Japanese Peruvians have made up large portions of Peru's cabinet members and former president Alberto Fujimori is of Japanese ancestry who is currently the only Asian Latin American to have ever served as the head of any Latin American nation. Brazil is home to the largest Japanese community outside Japan, numbering about 1.7 million with ancestry alone. Brazil is also home to 10 thousand Indians, 5 thousand Vietnamese people, 4.5 thousand Afghans, 2.9 thousand Indonesians and 1 thousand Filipinos.

Emigrant communities


Canada has been a destination for Asian Latin American emigration. The immigrants usually settle in the largest cities, such as Vancouver and Toronto, and integrate into the overall Asian Canadian communities.


Main article: Dekasegi

Japanese Brazilian immigrants to Japan numbered 250,000 in 2004, constituting Japan's second-largest immigrant population.[11] Their experiences bear similarities to those of Japanese Peruvian immigrants, who are often relegated to low income jobs typically occupied by foreigners.[10]

United States

Most Asian Latin Americans who have migrated to the United States live in the largest cities, often in Asian American or Hispanic and Latino communities in the Greater Los Angeles area, New York metropolitan area, Chicago metropolitan area, San Francisco Bay area, Greater Houston, the San Diego area, Imperial Valley, California, Dallas-Fort Worth, and South Florida (mainly Chinese Cubans). They and their descendants are sometimes known as Asian Hispanics and Asian Latinos.

In the 2000 US Census, 119,829 Hispanic or Latino Americans identified as being of Asian race alone.[12] In 2006 the Census Bureau's American Community Survey estimated them at 154,694,[13] while its Population Estimates, which are official, put them at 277,704.[14] Some notable Americans of Asian Hispanic/Latino heritage include Harry Shum, Jr., Franklin Chang-Diaz, Carlos Galvan, Kelis, Kirk Acevedo and Chino Moreno. In the United States, there are Facebook groups that are devoted to Asian Hispanics in New York,[15] California[16] and Bay Area.[17]


Asian Latin American population (incomplete data)
Country Chinese Indian[18] Japanese Korean[19] Filipino Others References
Argentina 120,000 1,600 35,000 22,024 15,000 2,000
Bolivia 14,000 640
Brazil 251,649 9,200 1,705,685 49,419 1,000 [5][20]
Chile 1,500 4,000 2,249
Colombia 160,000 5,000 2,980[21] 12,000 5,000 17,000 [22][23]
Costa Rica 7,873 16 351 730 [24]
Cuba 112,000 84
Dominican Republic 50,000 200 847 518
Ecuador 7,000 100 434 1,418
El Salvador 2,140 55 176 1,272 103
Guatemala 2,000 288 9,921 [25]
Honduras 123 160 406 1,107
Mexico 70,000[26] 2,258[27] 35,000[28] 30,000[29] 200,000[30] 1,300[31]
Nicaragua 10 145 531
Panama 135,000 2,164 456 306
Paraguay 9,484 5,229
Peru 1,300,000 145 160,000[32][33][34] 812 [5][35]
Puerto Rico >2,200 823 10,486 45 9,832
Uruguay ~100 456 152
Venezuela 420,000 680 2,000 325 10,000

Notable persons





Costa Rica


Dominican Republic


French Guiana






For a more comprehensive list, see List of Asian Mexicans.




Puerto Rico



See also

Ethnic groups



Indians / Tamils



Asian Latin American enclaves


  1. Alessandra Duarte; Flávio Freire (30 May 2011). População asiática aumentou 173% no Brasil, segundo o Censo de 2010 [Asian population climbed 173% in Brazil, according to 2010 Census] (in Portuguese). O Globo. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  2. Japan, Brazil mark a century of settlement, family ties| The Japan Times Online
  3. "Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios 2006" [National Sample Household Survey 2006] (PDF) (in Portuguese). Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2008: See Table 1.2
  4. Japan, Brazil mark a century of settlement, family ties | The Japan Times Online
  5. 1 2 3 4 "The Ranking of Ethnic Chinese Population". Overseas Community Affairs Council, Republic of China (Taiwan). Archived from the original on 23 November 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  6. Bialogorski, Mirta (2005). "La comunidad coreana - Argentina - Logros de una inmigración reciente". Cuando Oriente llegó a América: Contribuciones de inmigrantes chinos, japoneses, y coreanos. Banco Interamericano De Desarrollo. pp. 275–296. ISBN 978-1-931003-73-5.
  7. Park, Chae-soon (2007). "La emigración coreana en América Latina y sus perspectivas". Segundo Congreso del Consejo de Estudios Latinoamericanos de Asia y de Oceania (PDF). Seoul: Latin American Studies Association of Korea. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
  8. "Hmong's new lives in Caribbean". BBC News. 2004-03-10. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  9. "Peruvian Culinary Culture: Chinese Influence". Taste of Peru. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  10. 1 2 Lama, Abraham. Asian Times. Home is where the heartbreak is. 1999. September 6, 2006.<>.
  11. Richard Gunde (2004-01-27). "Japanese Brazilian Return Migration and the Making of Japan's Newest Immigrant Minority". UCLA International Institute. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  12. "Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2000" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau.
  13. "B03002. HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY RACE - Universe: TOTAL POPULATION". 2006 American Community Survey. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  14. "T4-2006. Hispanic or Latino By Race [15]". Data Set: 2006 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  15. "LatinAsians in New York". Facebook. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
  16. "LatinAsians in CA". Facebook. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
  17. "LatinAsians in Bay Area". Facebook. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
  18. Singhvi, L. M. (2000). "Other Countries of Central and South America". Report of the High Level Committee on the Indian Diaspora (PDF). New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs.; note all figures in this table given are the sum of those for Non-Resident Indians and for Persons of Indian Origin, which are tabulated separately in the original report
  19. 재외동포현황/Current Status of Overseas Compatriots. South Korea: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-21.
  20. Publicação do IBGE traz artigos, mapas e distribuição geográfica dos nikkeis no Brasil
  21. Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores del Japon
  22. 해외이주 통계 - 외교부
  23. コロンビア基礎データ | 外務省 [Republic of Colombia: Basic data]. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  24. "Cuadro N° 1: Poblacion total. Por: zona y sexo. Segun: provincia y etnia" [Table No. 1: Total population. By: area and sex. By: province and ethnicity]. National Institute of Statistics and Census of Costa Rica (INEC) (in Spanish). Archived from the original (XLS) on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  25. Pérez, Sonia (2005-05-15). ""Sólo queremos igualdad": Comisionado presidencial contra la Discriminación y el Racismo". Prensa Libre. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
  26. Rodriguez, Olga R. (February 20, 2015). "Chinese-Mexicans Celebrate Return To Mexico". The Huffington Post.
  27. "International Migration Database". OECD. Retrieved 7 September 2015. Country of origin: India, Variable: Stock of foreign population by nationality
  28. Lizcano Fernández, Francisco (May–August 2005). "Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI" [Ethnic composition of the three cultural areas of the American Continent to the beginning of the 21st century] (PDF). Revista Convergencia (in Spanish). Toluca, Mexico: Autonomous University of the State of Mexico. 12 (38): 201. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  29. Becerra, Hector (2008-08-16), "A cultural awakening", Los Angeles Times, retrieved 2015-03-30
  30. Floro L. Mercene. Filipinos in Mexican history. Ezilon Infobase. January 28, 2005.
  31. "Extranjeros Residentes En México" (PDF). Instituto Nacional de Migración. p. 38. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 2009 resident migrants from South, Southeast and East Asian countries other than those separately listed
  32. "Japan-Peru Relations (Basic Data)". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  33. "Embajada del Japón en el Perú" [Embassy of Japan in Peru] (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  34. "54,636 peruanos viven en todo Japón -Entrevista a Morimasa Goya" [54,636 Peruvians live throughout Japan - Interview with Goya Morimasa] (in Spanish). 24 November 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  35. Palma, Hugo (12 March 2008). "Desafíos que nos acercan" [Challenges that bring us closer] (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  36. Pegue O Ritmo Dele
  37. "Bomba Coreana", La Nación, Chile, 23 October 2006, retrieved 2008-09-29

Further reading

External links

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