Chinatowns Around the World

Chinese Ethnic Enclaves Exist in Urban Areas Around the World as Chinatowns

Chinatown Liverpool
Arch at Chinatown in Liverpool, England. Liverpool is the oldest Chinatown in the United Kingdom. Allan Baxter/Getty Images

An ethnic enclave is a neighborhood in a large city that is home to many members of a city's minority ethnic group. Some examples of ethnic enclaves are "Little Italy's," "Little India's," and "Japantowns." The most well-known type of ethnic enclave is likely "Chinatown."

Chinatowns are home to many people born in China or of Chinese ancestry that now reside in a foreign country. Chinatowns exist on every continent except Antarctica. For the last few centuries, millions of Chinese people have left China to pursue better economic opportunities abroad. Upon arrival in their strange new cities, they resided in the same neighborhood and felt secure from any cultural and language barriers they faced. They opened businesses that often became very successful. Chinatowns are now frequently visited destinations that are a fascinating example of migratory geography, culture preservation, and assimilation.

Reasons for Chinese Migration

Life in Chinatowns

Locations of Chinatowns

New York City Chinatown

San Francisco Chinatown

Additional Chinatowns Worldwide

Additional North American Chinatowns

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • San Diego, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - The largest Chinatown in Canada
  • Victoria, British Columbia, Canada - The oldest Chinatown in Canada
  • Washington, DC

Asian Chinatowns (Outside China)

  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Calcutta, India
  • Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Manila, Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Yokohama, Japan

European Chinatowns

  • Liverpool, United Kingdom (the oldest Chinatown in Britain)
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Paris, France

Latin American Chinatowns

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Havana, Cuba
  • Lima, Peru
  • Mexicali, Mexico

Australian Chinatowns

  • Melbourne
  • Sydney

African Chinatown

  • Johannesburg, South Africa

As the most common example of an ethnic enclave, Chinatown districts display cultural and linguistic diversity in large cities that are primarily non-Chinese. The descendants of the original Chinese settlers continue to live and work in the neighborhoods that their hard-working, nostalgic ancestors established. Even though they now live thousands of miles from home, residents of Chinatowns retain ancient Chinese traditions and also adapt the culture and customs of their new country. Chinatowns have become very prosperous and attract many visitors. In the age of globalization and technology, Chinese people will continue to migrate for educational and professional opportunities, and China's intriguing culture will be spread to even more distant corners of the globe.