Academy for Cultural Diplomacy

Cultural Diplomacy in Latin America (CDLA)

Latin American Diaspora in the World

Latin American Diaspora in the world

Part A - Introduction

There are currently 232 million migrants in the world. After Asians, Latin Americans represent the second largest diaspora group, with the majority (26 million) living in North America (UN-DESA, 2013). Most Latin American migrants come from Mexico, Colombia and the Caribbean States, and are on average 36.7 years old and there are few differences in the number males and females that migrate (Riveros Marin, 2013). In the last decade, the overall number of migrants of Latin American and Caribbean origin increased by 36 per cent (UN-DESA & OECD, 2013).

Historical Overview and Main Causes

The first boom that significantly increased global interconnection started in the 1870s and lasted until 1913. During this period economic ties were strengthened through a shared interest in expanding trade, encouraging a generous flow of goods, which was made significantly easier by low tariffs; this period was also marked by a boost in migration. However the political and economic instability that came with the First and Second World War and the Great Depression disrupted the evolution of these ties created by economic and human mobility. By the late 20th century, economic ties had begun to strengthen again and migration alongside. However, the immigration patterns had changed, depending on the success of economic development of each individual country (Solimano, 2004).

Migration to and from Latin America has been largely influenced by global historical events. Both the late 19th and late 20th centuries saw large booms in Latin American migration, although the effects were mostly felt in economically stronger countries such as Argentina or Brazil. During the late 19th century many European laborers set sail for the New World, taking advantage of the rich resources which were to be found there and relatively liberal migration policies. However, by the 1970s the economic landscape had shifted and European countries were once again more financially stable than their Latin American counterparts. This change encouraged the reverse migration of Latin Americans to Europe.

During the 1980s and 1990s migrants from all over the world made their way principally to the United States. Throughout the 1970s to around 1998 the largest group of migrants to the United States came from Latin American countries (some 46% of all migrants). From this point onwards, Latin American workers have continued to migrate mostly to the United States and Europe (Solimano, 2004). However, migration restrictions to the United States have been drastically tightened since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, therefore increasing the Latin American inflow to Europe (Pellegrino, 2004).

Historically, the major factors causing migration from Latin America have been economic in nature and, particularly, in relation to the state of the labor market. These include the prospect of a higher salary but also the possibility to secure more stable jobs, medical insurance and financial support for business activities (Riveros Marin, 2013). Poverty is another important driving force behind migration; according to a 2008 Gallup poll as much as 21 per cent of people living in countries with an average GDP of $ 5,000 or less have a family member who recently moved abroad, compared to 14 per cent in countries with higher GDPs (Gallup World, 2008).

Among non-economic variables affecting migration patterns from the Continent, the most relevant can be considered to be the immigration policy in the host country, the cost of moving to another region, cultural differences between country of origin and destination as well as geographical proximity or distance (Solimano, 2004). One must also not forget the impact upon the destination’s choice of what has been referred to as ‘network effects’, namely, the presence of a group of friends and family members in the host country, who are likely to provide support and guidance to the newcomers (Ibid.).

Research Aim

This paper will investigate the evolution of the Latin American diaspora, looking at the period of heightened migration from Latin American countries, starting in the late 20th century, from both a global and local perspective. Due to the largely heterogeneous nature of Latin American communities, the paper will adopt a more selective approach, focusing mainly on the most relevant ones in terms of population and size. The analysis will begin with statistics related to the major Latin American communities spreading across each continent. It will then go in depth into the influences, the challenges and the most important contributions of Latin American migrant cultures on the global community. Finally, the paper will look at the main trends and prospects of the Latin American diaspora to develop a better understanding of current migration flows as well as their future implications for local communities.

Part B - Statistics


The data presented in this section intends to offer a clear outline of the Latin American diaspora in the world. As of 2013, 31.3 million international migrants of the 36.7 million foreign-born from Latin America and the Caribbean were living in a different major area (United Nations, 2013). Following the United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs report; by 2010 the foreign-born from Latin America and the Caribbean amounted to 30 million which has been outnumbered just in the past decade by Asian foreign-born which amounts to 37 million (UN, 2013).

Therefore, the data presented below displays the Latin American communities present in each of the continents of the world and the preferred countries for migrations in these regions by Latino communities. These statistical figures help to shed light on the Latin American Diaspora phenomenon and to understand the current global trends of Latin American migration. The research provides an overview on the countries around the world and the cities within them which host the biggest settlements of Latin American communities.

Outline of the Latin American Diaspora in the World


A significant Latin American community is scarcely to be found in Africa, even in the former Portuguese colonies. From the end of the 16th century to the end of the 19th century (1888), many slaves from Africa were brought to Brazil and thus founded an Afro-Brazilian community. Therefore, migration from Brazil to Africa was mainly the return of the descendents of former slaves to their countries of origin. The ties between Brazil and Africa are nowadays mainly linked by history and trade. Small Brazilian communities can be found in countries like Mozambique and Angola and are typically either people working for Brazilian companies or former Afro-Brazilian slaves who came back to Africa.

Due to the emergence of the country´s economy and the rapidly growing new trade market, Brazilian investments and companies are drawn to Angola. It’s estimated that there are about 5,000 Brazilian expatriates in Angola; they are mostly gathered in the capital Luanda, in the provinces of Cabinda, Luanda Norte and Malanje (Queiroz, 2007).

Former African slaves (the Tabom People) were taken from Brazil and returned to their native country between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. They are mainly located in South Ghana, but no official statistical data can be found on the exact number of community members (Schaumloeffel, 2009).

The Brazilians in Nigeria are mostly former African slaves who were taken to Brazil have returned to their country of origin. No official data exists, since this primarily took place at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century (Brooke, 1987).


The main extra-regional destination of Latin American migration to Asia has mostly been directed to Japan. The most significant migration corridors joining South America with Asia can be found in Brazilian and Peruvian migration to Japan, as well as smaller groups of migrants from different Latin American states such as Bolivia and Argentina. The presence of Latin Americans in other states in the region is minimal in comparison; as the case of Mexicans in the Philippines or when compared to the Asian communities present in Latin American countries.

Latin Americans represent the second largest immigrant community in Japan. The first flow of South American foreign nationals came to Japan seeking residency before World World II, but the past three decades have witnessed a high flow of migration. The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act granted indefinite residency to Latin American migrants in 1990 and they mostly work in car factories; they are attracted to the country due to several benefits such as government initiatives like the “Support Programme to Facilitate School Education for Foreign Children” (IOM, 2013). In fact, the Latin American population living in Japan tend to have higher incomes and higher levels of education than their counterparts in the United States or other parts of the world (Inter-American Development Bank citing a study conducted by the Multilateral Investment Fund).The most recent census reveals the Latin American immigrants in Japan come from the following countries: Brazil (267,456); Peru (57,464); Bolivia (6,094); Argentina (3,484); Colombia (2,705); Paraguay ( 2,240); Mexico (1,995) (Taniguchi, 2012).

The Mexican presence in the Philippines dates back to Spanish colonial rule, when a significant flow of Mexicans were brought to the country due to trans-Pacific trade and they remained there after settlement. Nowadays Mexican Filipinos are a bilingual ethnic group composed of Philippine citizens with Mexican ancestry. The main population amounts to circa 180 people spread throughout the areas of Metro Manila, Cebu City Iloilo City and Zamboanga City (Mexican Embassy, 2011).


Even if Latin American migrants in Oceania are not considered one of the largest minorities, some groups can still be found; particularly in Australia and New-Zealand. According to the 2010/2011 census, 3,452 migrants from South America, Central America and the Caribbean settled in Oceania. The most prominent groups of migrants come from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

Australia hosts the largest Latin American population in the region. According to the 2011 Census, the country comprised 107,317 Latin American Australian residents. The major part of migrants were from South America (87,677 people), Central America (14,887 people)  and finally from the Caribbean (4,753 people) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011). Together they only represent 0.43% of the Australian population.

The dominant communities represented are from Brazil and the Chile; in 2011 the number of people who claimed to be born in Brazil or to have Brazilian origins reached 26,743, while the number of people claiming Chilean origins amounted to 24,938. The main settlements can be found in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

As for other Latin American communities the 2011 Census conducted by the Australian department of Immigration showed that there were 21,864 Argentine residents in the country, living mainly in New South Wales; the Colombian-Australians, people born in Colombia or having Colombian ancestors, amounted to 21,511 (Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2011).

New Zealand
New Zealand is the second country in this geographic area which attracts Latin American migrants. The size of this community almost doubled between 2006 and 2013 to reach a total of 13,182 people. Between 2005 and 2011, 1,733 Brazilians were approved for residence and during 2011-2012, 411 were granted residence. There were also 131 Colombians (most of them refugees) and 133 Argentinians who came to New-Zealand in between 2011 and 2012 (Labour and Immigration Research Center, 2013). The highest concentration of Latin American communities can be found in Wellington, Auckland and Canterbury.


Latin American migration to Europe started in the 19th century and was characterized by different waves: the first post-colonial migration, then economically motivated migration due to unemployment and poverty and a significant migration wave between the 1960s and the 1980s due to political instability and oppressive dictatorships in Latin American countries. Latin American migration to Europe has grown rapidly over the last decade, a vast majority of the migration flows are directed towards Southern-European countries especially Spain, Portugal and Italy, but countries such as Germany also host increasing number of migrants from Latin American countries. The majority of migrants are women, who constitute over half of the total migrant population and often work in domestic care for the elderly or in cleaning services.

Spain hosts the largest population of Latin American migrants in Europe. According to the research conducted by the Spanish National Statistics Institute (INE) the total amount of Latin American migrants living in Spain in 2009 was 2,365,364, with a predominance of women (54%). Ecuadorians are the largest Latin American community in the country (471,425) followed by Colombians (354,869), Argentineans (293,227), Bolivians (226,033) and Peruvians (186,060) (Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales/INE, 2009).

In 2011 7.7% (354.186 individuals) of the total migrant population in Italy originated from Latin American countries, among this 62.7% were women.
Peruvians are the largest Latino community in the country (98,603), followed by Ecuadorians (91,625), Brazilians (46,690) and Colombians (20,571). The cities with the largest Latino communities are in Milan (30,055), Rome (14,075), Turin (10,481)  and Florence (6,910). In 2010 and 2011 there were 66,807 Latin American students in Italian schools, accounting for 9.4% of the total number of foreign students (Fondazione Leone Moressa, 2011).

According to the data found in 2012 (SEFSTAT, 2012), the majority of Latin American immigrants in Portugal are Brazilians (102,000), followed by Venezuelans and Colombians. The largest Latino communities are concentrated in Lisbon (49,725) and Faro (11,016).

United Kingdom
According to the research conducted by the University of London in 2008 there are 186,469 Latin American migrants settled in the United Kingdom. Brazilians are the largest Latino community in the country (53,052) followed by Colombians (24,040), Argentines (11,696) and Ecuadorians (5,959). The largest Latino communities, especially Brazilians (41,380) mainly live in London (113,578) (Lobel, 2011).

According to the DESTATIS census of 2011, 89,472 Latin American migrants live in Germany of which 59,725 are women (DESTATIS, 2011). Brazilians are the largest Latin American community in the country (28,594), followed by Colombians (8,843), Mexicans (8,272) and Peruvians (7,507) (DESTATIS, 2011).

Latin Americans are no longer the largest community in France today. Latin American migration to France reached its peak in the 1970s and 1980s but numbers have declined over recent years. Immigrants from Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Mexico have a major presence in the country (Avalos, 2013) and the Île - de - France is the region where the highest concentration of Latin Americans can be found. Brazilians (7,909), Colombians (5,144) and Chileans (4,087) have been traditionally the largest Latin American communities in the country (Focus Migration, 2006).


Russia is the second largest receptor of immigrants at a global level with exception to Latin American Diaspora.  In the case of Argentinean citizens the largest group is formed by people over 60 years old (2,661 individuals). The most significant community in the region is represented by Brazilian migrants, which amount to 19,655 citizens. Countries like Haiti, Guatemala, Bolivia and Honduras have a very small representation in Russia (less than 500 citizens). This is also the case of the Dominican Diaspora with 457 inhabitants.
The Colombian community has 4,842 members in Russia and the majority of these are students. In the case of Mexican Diaspora, there are 9,241 women living in Russia compared to just 8,902 males. Chile and Peru do not appear on the Russian statistics (Statistics of the FMS in Russia, 2014).


Significant differences created since the middle of the 20th century, in terms of wealth between Latin American nations fostered the emergence of important trends in Intra-Latin American migration during the period between 1950 and 2000 (Solimano. A, 2004). One of the main trends observed was the migratory flows to countries like Chile or Argentina with higher standards of social and economic development and growth, coming from Southern American countries like Paraguay and Bolivia. Even if Argentina was traditionally considered the main recipient of people in Intra-Latin America migration during 1950’s, the trend has declined over the last few decades. Venezuela is a country in which the population of foreign nationals is undergoing significant growth, where the numbers rose from nearly 600,000 in 1970 to over one million in 1990 (Solimano A., 2004). The divergent economic performance between Latin American countries, particularly between countries sharing common borders, appears to be one of the main causes of significant migration flows between them (Solimano A., 2004).

From the total amount of immigrants living in Chile, 67.9% come from Latin American countries, in particular, from the Andes region. The majority of migrants come from Argentina (48,176) who represent the 38.4% of the overall Latin American immigrant population in Chile; Peru constitutes 30.22%, Bolivia (10.919) accounts for 8.71% and finally Ecuadorian immigrants (9,393) represent 7.49% (Arias, Moreno & Nuñez, 2010). In this sense, settlements of Peruvian migrants are significant in the Metropolitan area of the nation’s capital city of Santiago de Chile, with an overall number of 10,943 (Arias, Moreno & Nuñez, 2010).

In Venezuela immigration comes principally from Colombia as a product of the close commercial relationship between the two countries; as well as because of their geographical proximity (Martínez & Vono, 2005). Thus, it is estimated that the Colombian diaspora living in Venezuela is composed of about 4 million people and within this group about 200,000 are refugees (Diario El Carabobeñ, 2012). Chilean and Cuban migrants also represent a big Latin American diaspora in Venezuela, with 20,000 newly-arrived Chilean migrants in Venezuela in 2012 (El Carabobeñ, 2012).

Alongside Venezuela, Argentina has traditionally been the main focus of Intra-Latin American migration in the region, Argentina has a total immigrant population of 1,531,940 and most of them coming from Latin American countries, mainly Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil (International Organization for Migration, 2014). More precisely, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile, represent the largest Diaspora communities; 325.046, 233,464 and 212,429 citizens living in these communities. Good examples of pertinent Chilean, Bolivian and Paraguayan settlements in Argentina are the cities of La Plata, Buenos Aires and the urban areas of Córdoba, Rosario, Mendoza and Rio Negro (Pacecca & Courtis, 2008). Thus, 65% of the Paraguayan migrants living in Argentina are settled in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires, as well as 38% of Bolivian migrants and 25% of Chilean migrants present in the country (Cerrutti, 2001).

The fast economic, social and political development that is taking place in this country has made possible the increase of the migration flow to Brazil. The visit of the Pope in 2013, the celebration of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 have also played a role in the fast development of the Brazilian economy and in the interest of migrants seeking job opportunities. In 2012 the country received some 1.5 million immigrants. The largest percentages belong to people who come from Haiti, Bolivia and the USA. 4 million Haitians alone arrived in Brazil from 2010 to 2012. If we speak in a general frame, in the first half of 2011 the number of immigrants grew to 52.4% (Arias, 2012).


North America is the main extra-regional destination of international migrants originating from Latin America. In 2013, they represented 26 million people (UN Global Migration Statistics, 2013). The total Latino population in the country grew from 35.2 million to 50.7 million from 2000 to 2010, which is equivalent to an increase from 12.5% to 16.4% of the whole U.S. population (Passel, Cohn and Lopez, 2011). This percentage is expected to rise up to 17.8% in 2015 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). The Latino community has become the largest minority community and one of the most influential groups in the United States. Compared to the United States, the number of immigrants from Latin American in Canada is much lower; although it jumped by 121% from 2000 to 2006 (Houpt, 2012). The Latin community is also the largest immigrant community in the country but it is considered a relatively young population for its recent history.

United States
In 2011, out of the 52 million people living in the US who reported having Latin American origins, 18 million of them were immigrants (Migration Policy Institute, 2013). Mexicans are by far the largest Latino community in the country (25 million), which accounts for 64.6% of the total Latino population (Lopez, Gonzalez-Barrera & Cuddington, 2013); followed by Puerto Ricans (4,916) and Salvadorans (1,952). Fifty-two per cent of the total Latino population in the U.S. is located in the states of California, Texas and Florida (Brown & Lopez, 2013).

In 2011, 544,380 people of the total migrant population in Canada originated from Latin America. Mexicans (96,055), Colombians (76,580) and Salvadorans (63,970) are the largest Latino communities in the country (Statistics Canada, 2011). The provinces with the largest community of Latinos are Ontario and Québec, which represent 1.5% and 1.4% of the total population of the country which are concentrated in the cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver (Statistics Canada, 2011).

Part C - Influences of Latin American diaspora on indigenous and local communities


The migration of people from Latin America to the rest of the world has several implications for the local communities, especially on culture, economics and politics. Immigrants tend to maintain strong relations within their communities; however, they also interact with local inhabitants in the host country and are involved in the activities and processes occurring in the society. It is expected that number of immigrants from Latin America will continue growing in the coming years and therefore the process of cultural interchange is expected to become even stronger.
Due to the historical links between countries these regions and Latin America, both Southern European countries and the USA have been the primary destinations for immigrants. However, since globalization and the recent economic crisis have changed the economical and political landscape other countries have become of interest for immigrants.

It is also important to note that there are many diverse cultures within Latin America. Therefore, the influence exhibited on the host country depends on where the majority of the migrants come from. For example, while the majority of Latin Americans residing in the US come from Mexico; most migrants in Japan come from either Brazil or Peru. Likewise, there is a strong Afro-Brazilian population living in Nigeria and Angola.

As a result of this growing interconnectivity between Latin America and the rest of the world, Latin American cultures have made their mark on many societies around the globe, especially those where large communities of Latin Americans are present. Some important cultural exports include: music, dance, film and cuisine. Latino music and dances have become very popular all over the world. Dance schools around the world have opened, offering courses in different dance styles originating from Latin American countries, such as tango or salsa. In terms of film, one can easily find movies starring famous actors, actresses, or popular singers of Latin American origins, recognized all over the world. Many Latin American cuisines have also gained great popularity overseas, especially Mexican and Peruvian restaurants serving traditional or fusion meals from their nations.

The presence of large Latin American populations also has a profound effect on the make-up of the host country itself. For example, in United States three out of four Americans claim that Hispanic culture has had an important influence on American culture. Almost 90% of non-Hispanics think that Latin American food has had the most prominent impact on the society, followed by music with 63% of support from respondents. Additionally, there is also the relevant role that Latin American sports represent for US citizens. Lastly, one can also see the influence of Latin American culture in the USA through style and appearance, clothing and television programs that make the way into US society (Conill White Paper, 2010).

Other countries with large Latin American migrant populations also demonstrate the influence Latin American culture has had on their own. For example, Latin American music has been growing in popularity in Japan and some Japanese artists have also made cover versions of songs of famous Latin American artists and transformed them into a Japanese style, incorporating them into Japanese popular culture (Romero, 2013).

An account from an economic, cultural and sociological point of view

One economic challenge faced by host countries is the remittance Latin American migrants often send to their homeland. For example, according to the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), the Latin American migrants from the USA or Western Europe have sent $61 billion in remittances to their homelands (Inter-American Development Bank, 2012). A study by the Inter-American Development Bank in 2005 on Latin American worker’s remittance in Japan, found that of the 435,000 Latin American immigrants living there, about 70% regularly send on an average of US$600 to their home countries about 14.5 times per year. The study also noted that, in general, wages are relatively high in Japan, making it the source of the highest remittance per capita in the world. The study concluded that in 2005 approximately $2.65 billion would be sent by Latin American workers to their home countries (Inter-American Development Bank/Multilateral Investment Fund, 2005). 

In second place, Latin American Diasporas have influenced the economic landscape of most of the host societies in which they are based. In this way, the commercial relations between Latin American countries and African countries have been strengthened during the last decade. This new economic scenario, is now taking place through some of the recent commercial relations and agreements signed between Brazilian entrepreneurs based in lusophone countries (Angola, Mozambique, São Tomé e Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde) and the national authorities of host countries, mainly in Angola or Mozambique. Thus, The Association of Brazilian Entrepreneurs and Executives based in Angola (AEBRAN), promotes since 2003 economic, cultural and social exchanges between the two countries, while at the same time, represents the interests of Brazilian entrepreneurs and investors living in Angola (Associação de Empresários e Executivos Brasileiros em Angola, 2014).

Another significant sociological aspect which has cultural impacts in the US, is that the Latin American diaspora represents, since 2006, the first ethnic minority in the American country  and is expected to reach a third of the global American population by 2050 (DUMONT G.F, 2009). Thus, the interest in Latin American literature and language has already increased and is still to be more important, as can be seen with the activities of relevant cultural institutions such as the Smithsonian Latino Center in Washington D.C. (Walker, C., 2007).
Yet, the cultural and sociological aspects of the Latin American diaspora are not only confined to the USA. The presence of Latin American Institutes in many European metropolises - such as Berlin, Paris and London- enhances the spreading of this culture in every region where this diaspora can be found.

Challenges raised by the LA Diaspora

In recent years Latin America has become a region of rising economic influence. Chile, Mexico and Peru together with Argentina and Colombia are growing powers gaining more prominence in the international field. Brazil in particular is expected to become an economic superpower by 2050. It’s hosting of the next World Cup and Olympic Games will raise its global profile even further. Institutions seeking to engage with Latin America are increasingly interested in staff with Spanish or Portuguese language skills and familiarity with the region’s social, cultural, political context (The Conversation, 2012).

The growing importance of Latin America on the global scene is also reflected in the increasing number of universities offering Latin American studies and strengthening their efforts in increasing the student mobility to and from Latin America, encouraging the interchange of knowledge between geographic regions (The Conversation, 2012).

From an economic and social point of view, the “Brain drain” has been particularly acute in small countries and island states in Latin America and the Caribbean; in 2010, around 90% of highly skilled people born in Guyana lived in OECD countries. Similarly, more tertiary educated persons said they would rather live outside Barbados, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago. The proportion of highly educated persons residing in OECD countries was also significant in Belize (34%). In contrast, most OECD countries as well as non-OECD countries with large populations, such as Brazil or Argentina, had low emigration rates, even below 3.5%, of the highly-skilled workers (UN & OECD, 2013).

As with many immigrant populations, the integration process can present initial difficulties in terms of language and recognition of previous studies acquired in their home countries. This is why many Latin American migrants often end up doing work for which they are overqualified.
A study carried out by the University of London revealed that “while the largely young and well-educated Latin American population had high employment rates of 85%, it was being subjected to serious victimization, with 40% of Latin American workers experiencing workplace abuse and exploitation and 11% being paid less than the national minimum wage - a proportion 10 times higher than the average rate for the UK population” (Jones, 2012).

Part D - Current Trends and Future Prospects for Latin American Diasporas


The Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries have experienced a large increase in emigration. The main destinations have always been USA and Europe. During the past few years, Europe has been the most important receptor of these migrants due to the increased difficulty in entering the United States as a result of new immigration policy. In terms of demography, the LAC profile shows a relatively young population with high rates of labor force participation. More than half of the LAC citizens who come to Europe are women.

It should be highlighted that the European Union puts special emphasis on building partnerships with the LAC countries. It means a more comprehensive co-development agreements and policies at any level. For example, the EU signed an agreement with the 6 Central American countries at an interregional level (Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama). In the case of Portugal, we can also see that the relation between the country and the LAC diaspora has been strengthening by the own government and its policies. For example, agreements have been made for an easier exchange between Brazil and Portugal, allowing emigrating Brazilians them to have the same possibilities as the Portuguese citizens on the job market.

In United Kingdom, the presence of immigrants from Latin America is very limited, although there is a considerable group from the Caribbean (Jamaica). In the case of Switzerland, the situation is very different. The number of people from LAC is around 21,000.

The southern countries of Europe (namely Spain, Portugal and Italy) are the most relevant receptors for LAC migrants, especially in Spain, due to similarities found in language and history. Ecuador and Colombia are the two main origin countries of the immigrants in Spain. The crisis in Argentina at the beginning of the 21st century also doubled its presence in Europe. In Italy, the LAC community is primarily represented by Peruvian citizens. The current difficult economic situation in Spain has forced migrants living in Spain, Italy, or Portugal for years to leave the country due to lack of employment. The trend will likely continue until these countries are able to recover from the current crisis.


The Latin American Diaspora in Africa is mostly represented by the Afro-Brazilian community; descendents of former slaves who were brought to Brazil during the period of Colonialism and after 1888 decided to move back to Africa.  Starting from the 19th century until the beginning of the 20th century between 3,000 and 8,000 Afro-Brazilians returned to their mother country (Amos, 2011). Brazilian communities in Africa are mostly concentrated in Angola, Nigeria and Ghana. Small Afro-Brazilian communities can also be found in Benin and Togo.

The trade market between Brazil and Africa is growing in size in the past decades. In 2007, Angola was Brazil’s fourth largest market in Africa, followed by South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. While the Latin American community in Africa today is not particularly populous, this could change in the future. The Association of Brazilian Companies in Angola (AEBRAN) is currently trying to strengthen relations between Brazil and Africa. At the same time, an increasing number of Brazilian companies in Angola are involved with public works, real estate, advertisement, food and sales of construction materials. In the long run, such trends could lead to an increase in the presence of Latin American migrants in the African continent.


Latin American immigration to Asian countries is still relatively limited. Some Asian countries, generally the most financially stable, receive thousands of immigrants from LAC countries per year. It should also be noted that few Latin American communities are represented, namely coming from Brazil and Peru. It also it notable that the majority of Latin Americans migrating to Asian countries are of Asian origins, their families having moved to Latin America two or three generations previously. Other nationalities with small percentages living in Asia include Bolivians, Paraguayans, Mexicans, Argentines and Colombians.

The countries that have so far tended to receive the highest volume of migrants from Latin America are Japan and the Philippines. However both economies have been hard hit by the recent natural disasters that took place and this could also affect both the migrant and local population. The effects of these natural disasters on the migrant population have yet to be extensively explored.   


Hosting the largest Latin American Population in the Continent, Latin American migrants in Australia are settling currently in the areas of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The urban area of Sydney is principally being the main focus of Latin American migrants, with Uruguayans, Peruvians, Chileans and Brazilians accounting for the majority of the members of the Latin American Diaspora based in Australia (Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2011). The current scheme for qualified immigration launched by the Australian government together with the prosperous economic and social situation of the region, especially in Australia alongside with New Zealand, is fostering the arrival of a significant number of bilingual high-skilled Latin American professionals which come attracted by the good employment opportunities (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).


After a rapid increase between the late 1990s and the early 2000s, the influx of Latin American immigrants to Europe has slowed down considerably. One of the main causes of such decline has been the global economic crisis and, particularly, its impact on countries such as Italy and Spain. For example, between 2008 and 2010 the amount of Ecuadorian immigrants arriving in Spain - the largest group of foreign born people in the country - went down by 85 per cent.

Spain remains the primary destination for Latin American immigrants, with as much as 38 per cent of foreign nationals being of South American and Caribbean origin. It is worth noting that while affecting the number of new arrivals in Europe, the crisis has not resulted in the return of a considerable amount of Latin American citizens to their native regions. This, despite restrictive immigration policies have been recently imposed by many EU countries (IOM, 2010).

Another important current migratory trend is the growing rate of women migrating from Latin America to Europe, whose remittances have become an increasingly important source of development for their home countries. For instance, women account for more than half of Latin American immigrants living in Italy with the majority of them working as domestic staff (Gomez, 2010).

The aforementioned economic crisis in the Eurozone and the lack of enough job opportunities for young people within the EU, especially in the Southern European and Mediterranean Member States are the main factors that could slow down the arrival of Latin American immigrants to Europe in the upcoming years.


The profile of the typical Latin American immigrating nowadays to Russia fits with the one of a middle-class person with a university background who has come to Russia to complete his academic studies, more specifically in the area field of Sciences. The main factors for this are the several agreements which were signed in the last decades during the former USSR regime. The current trend is that these students do not tend to settle permanently in the country so that after completing their studies they come back to their original countries or try to settle in other European countries in order to find a job. These arrivals have been stimulated by the Russian Government through contracts which depend on the public funds and are always in partnership with research projects carried out between Latin American and Russian Universities (Novikova, 2011).

Over the coming years more highly-qualified Latin American students and professionals will concentrate in the principal financial and university urban areas of Moscow and Saint Petersburg (Novikova, 2011).

North America

The South American Diaspora community in North America is relatively small, compared to Latin America as a whole (only 2.6 million people). However, this has been steadily on the rise since the beginning of the new century. In 2011 more than 86,000 and 70,000 South Americans became permanent legal residents and US citizens, respectively. Similarly, between 2001 and 2006 the number of Canadian residents who reported Latin American origins doubled from about 250,000 to 527,000 units (Ruiz, 2006).

While the majority of South American immigrants in the US come from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, the largest Latin American Diaspora group overall has Mexican origins (about 25 million people) (El Universal, 2006). In 2011, Mexicans accounted for 29 per cent of immigrants in the United States with the majority being located in California (37 per cent) and Texas (21 per cent). The contribution of the Mexican community to the national economy is estimated to be around 8 per cent of total US GDP (Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior, 2012).

Since 2012, however, the flow of Mexican migrants into the US has started to decline. The main factors responsible for this trend included labour shortages in the American market caused by the 2007-08 economic crises, increasingly restrictive immigration laws promoted by Washington and the growing influence of narco-traffickers in areas close to the US border (Pereda, 2012).

Even so, the migrant flow to North America is unlikely to diminish in the future; this is due to the region´s geographical vicinity to Latin American countries, as well as economic wealth and the promise of an attractive prosperous life.

Central and South America

Intra-regional migration within Latin America has grown more intense in the last few years. This has mainly been due to the impact of the economic crisis on countries traditionally a target of immigration inflows from the Continent. The states currently hosting the largest amount of regional immigrants are Argentina, Venezuela and Chile. In particular, the former two countries are the only ones in the region that still display a positive net migration rate (IMO, 2014).

Brazil is becoming an attractive destination for Bolivian and Paraguayan migrants, whilst Uruguay has recently been subject to a consistent inflow of Peruvian nationals. The remaining Latin American regions tend to preserve their traditional nature as predominantly countries of emigration (Ibid.).

The Caribbean region has also been affected by the phenomenon of regional migration, with Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Grenada and Barbados being increasingly seen as attractive destinations. Of the 10 per cent of immigrants living in those regions, more than 50 per cent comes from another Caribbean country (Observatory on Migration, 2010).
The intra-regional migrant flow within the region is also unlikely to stop, since migrants generally leave economically poor and politically unstable countries in the area to move to fast growing developing states, more attractive due to the working opportunities and their offer of and better social benefits.

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