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Going International: 5 Chinatowns Outside Asia You Need To Know About

Aside from the bright red lanterns and endless amounts of Chinese restaurants you can find at every block, Chinatowns are much more than just tourist attractions. Behind each of these heritage sites are stories of how ethnic Chinese communities flourished across the globe. These 5 Chinatowns are just a few of the many cultural spots that hold rich histories and continue to develop to this day. While there are several Chinatowns here in Asia, there are still a lot more that people aren’t aware of.

London, England

Photo by Robert Greig

Located in the busy center of London, London’s Chinatown has a rich history that dates back to the 18th century. The original Chinatown was in the East End where Chinese workers settled, but the decline in employment and destruction brought about by World War II saw the community dwindle. By the 1960s, thousands of Chinese from Hong Kong arrived and opened a handful of restaurants, which gradually formed the Chinatown as we know today.

Melbourne, Australia

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The arrival of the Chinese in Australia in 1851 paved the way for their community to flourish. In search of gold, they set up shop in Little Bourke Street to cater to their fellow Chinese by supplying accommodation, food, and equipment. However, the introduction of the White Australia Policy in 1901 put them in a detrimental state as they were subject to a racist rule. When the immigration laws eased in 1947, Melbourne’s Chinatown was gradually revived and is now home to Cantonese restaurants, groceries, and herbal medicine shops, among others.

Johannesburg, South Africa

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With South Africa being home to the largest ethnic Chinese community in the continent, it’s not surprising why the city of Johannesburg in South Africa has two Chinatowns. The first one located along Commissioner street used to be a booming community of shops and restaurants, but many Chinese residents emigrated in the 1990s due to the increasing number of crimes in the Central Business District. In its place, a New Chinatown in the suburb of Cyrildene emerged, which houses a lot of restaurants, supermarkets, and other establishments where you can find authentic Chinese delicacies.

Vancouver, Canada

Photo by Andres Rodriguez

Vancouver is known to be North America’s ‘most’ Asian city as waves of Chinese immigrants traveled halfway across the world in hopes of securing a brighter future ahead of them. Today, you can find ethnic Chinese in almost every part of Vancouver. With restaurants serving authentic Chinese food as you would find in Hong Kong, no wonder it gained the nickname of “Hongcouver.”

Queens, New York, USA

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Sometimes called the “Chinese Manhattan,” Flushing in north-central Queens, New York is home to the largest Chinese population in the city. Taiwanese immigrants in the 1970s gradually formed the community and eventually established a highly-diversified Chinatown, having several Asian banks and businesses. With various food stands ranging from dumplings to tea, your Chinese cravings will surely be satisfied.

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