Travel Inn Magazine

The United States is home to some of the world’s most notable Chinatowns. With an estimated 50 million ethnically Chinese people residing outside of China, these tiny enclaves aren’t just a US phenomena; they’re found in every major urban center throughout the world, each with its own distinct traditions and history that are closely linked to the local culture.


Thousands of Chinese men immigrated from the country during the mid-1800s, and many Chinatowns were established around the world, during a period of tremendous political and sociological turmoil in China. The Qing Dynasty (a Manchu-led dynasty that ruled from 1644 to 1911, China’s final imperial dynasty) was dealing with various internal rebellions while recovering from the Opium Wars with Britain. This era was plagued by political corruption, starvation, and economic upheaval.


Many set out to strange new places to try their luck prospecting for gold near San Francisco or Melbourne or laboring in European colonies all over the globe to make a life for themselves and send money home to their families. These men brought their history, culture, and, of course, food to their new homes and established Chinatowns worldwide.




Though it is currently only two blocks long on Jirón Ucayali in downtown Lima, it is considered one of Latin America’s oldest Chinatowns. Following the abolition of slavery in Peru in 1854, more than 100,000 Chinese indentured laborers were transported to meet the demands of the sugar and cotton industries between 1849 and 1874. More over half would die prematurely as a result of weariness, abuse, or suicide.


Johannesburg, South Africa

South Africa has the largest Chinese community on the African continent, thus it is not surprising that Johannesburg, the country’s enormous capital, contains two Chinatowns. The original Chinatown, located on and around Commissioner Street in the city’s business area, is relatively young compared to other Chinatowns, although this only reflects Johannesburg’s age. In the late 1880s, following the discovery of gold around the Witwatersrand escarpment in 1886, the first Chinese immigrants arrived in South Africa. Then, in the 1970s and 1980s, a huge population of Taiwanese immigrants, attracted by a cordial relationship between the two nations (at the time) and generous government incentives for emigrating Taiwanese investors, settled into the Commissioner Street neighborhood.



In Paris, there are not one, but three Quartiers Chinois. The first and smallest of the three is in the 3rd arrondissement, near Rue au Maire. The other two areas, one in the 20th arrondissement and home to a primarily Chinese community, are more well-known. The other, and most well-known, is located in the 13th arrondissement and is predominantly populated by individuals of Chinese and Vietnamese ethnicity who left Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and other Southeast Asian nations during the Vietnam War and in the years that followed.


Melbourne, Australia

During the middle of the nineteenth century, many Chinese men fled their homelands in the wake of hunger and civil conflict in the hopes of profiting from the Gold Rush in California and in Melbourne, Australia, another major boomtown obsessed with the precious metal.

Officially established in 1854, when the first Chinese-owned houses were constructed off Little Bourke Street, Melbourne’s Chinatown is not only the oldest Chinese enclave in Australia, but also the oldest continuously inhabited Chinatown in the Western hemisphere, since San Francisco’s was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake.

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