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The African Diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world - predominantly to the Americas, then later to Europe, the Middle East and other places around the globe.

The term is applied in particular to the descendents of the Black Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas by way of the Atlantic slave trade, with the largest population in Brazilmarker (see Afro-Brazilian).People of Sub-Saharan descent number at least 800 million in Africa and over 140 million in the Western Hemisphere, representing around 14% of the world's population.


Based on human genetics, it is widely believed that prehistoric Africans who left the continent within the past 100,000 years are the ancestors of all non-African humans. But as communities began to form, especially in Egyptmarker and the Middle East, these migrations were greatly reduced because the only land route out of the African continent is through the Sinai Peninsulamarker. After the rise of civilization and the development of sailing, black Africans traveled to the Middle East, Europe, and Asia in a number of occupations. Many of these individuals settled in Europe and Asia and invariably intermarried with the local populations. Today, human genetic research suggests that mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome haplotypes in Europeans and Asians have distant African ancestry. But these early migrations out of Africa are dwarfed by those associated with the Atlantic and Arab slave trades.

Dispersal through slavery

Much of the African diaspora was dispersed throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas during the Atlantic and Arab Slave Trades. Beginning in the 9th century, African slaves were taken from the northern and eastern portions of the continent into the Middle East and Asia. Then beginning in the 15th century, Africans were taken from much of the rest of the continent to Europe and later to the Americas. Both the Arab and Atlantic slave trades ended in the 19th century.

The dispersal through slave trading represents one of the largest migrations in human history. The economic effect on the African continent was devastating. Some communities created by descendants of Black African slaves in Europe and Asia have survived to the modern day, but in other cases, blacks intermarried with non-blacks and their descendants blended into the local population. In the Americas, the confluence of multiple racial groups from around the world created a widespread mixing bowl effect. In Central and South America most people are descended from European, American Indian, and African ancestry. In Brazil, where in 1888 nearly half the population was descended from African slaves, the variation of physical characteristics extends across a broad range. In the United States, racist Jim Crow and anti-miscegenation laws maintained a distinction between racial groups. The adoption of the one drop rule defined anyone with any discernible African ancestry as African, even though the strictest application of that rule would categorize nearly all Americans as African.

Dispersal through migration

From the very onset of Spanish activity in the Americas, Africans were present both as voluntary expeditionaries and as involuntary colonists. Juan Garrido was one such black conquistador. He crossed the Atlantic as a freedman in the 1510s and participated in the siege of Tenochtitlan.

African immigration has become the primary force in the modern diaspora. It is estimated that the current population of recent African immigrants to the United States alone is over 600,000.. Countries with the most immigrants to the U.S. are Nigeriamarker, Ghanamarker, Ethiopiamarker, Eritreamarker, Egyptmarker, Sierra Leonemarker, Somaliamarker, and South Africa. Some immigrants have come from Angolamarker, Cape Verdemarker, Mozambiquemarker(see Luso American), Equatorial Guineamarker, Kenyamarker, and Cameroonmarker. Immigrants typically congregate in urban areas, moving to suburban areas over time.

There are significant populations of African immigrants in many other countries around the world, including the UKmarker and Francemarker.


The African Union defined the African diaspora as "[consisting] of people of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union." Its constitutive act declares that it shall "invite and encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of our continent, in the building of the African Union."

Between 1500 and 1900, approximately four million enslaved Black Africans were transported to island plantations in the Indian Oceanmarker, about eight million were shipped to Mediterranean-area countries, and about eleven million survived the Middle Passage to the New World. Their descendants are now found around the globe. Due to intermarriage and genetic assimilation, just who is a descendant of the Black African diaspora is not entirely self-evident.

A few examples of populations on continents away from Africa who are seen as "Black" or who see themselves as "Black" because they descend from Black Africans are:

  • Afro-Caribbeans. People in the West Indies who identify themselves as of African descent.

  • Afro-Latin Americans. Among these populations in South and Central America are those who identify as negros. Some identify as Afro-Latin Americans when they have high levels of admixture of other ethnicities, as well.

  • Siddis. Inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent (Pakistanmarker and Indiamarker) of Black African descent.

Estimated population and distribution

Continent or region Country population Afro-descendants Black and black-mixed population
Caribbeanmarker 39,148,115 73.2% 22,715,518
Haitimarker 8,924,553 95% 8,701,439
Dominican Republicmarker 9,650,054 84% 8,106,054
Cubamarker 11,451,652 34.9% 3,999,626
Jamaicamarker 2,804,332 97.4% 2,731,419
Trinidad and Tobagomarker 1,047,366 58.00% 607,472
Puerto Rico 3,958,128 11.30% 447,268*
The Bahamasmarker 307,451 85.00% 209,000
Barbadosmarker 281,968 90.00% 253,771
Netherlands Antillesmarker 225,369 85.00% 191,564
Saint Luciamarker 172,884 82.5% 142,629
Saint Vincent and the Grenadinesmarker 118,432 85.00% 100,667
Virgin Islands 108,210 79.70% 86,243
Grenadamarker 110,000 91.00% 101,309
Antigua and Barbudamarker 78,000 94.90% 63,000
Bermudamarker 66,536 61.20% 40,720
Saint Kitts and Nevismarker 39,619 98.00% 38,827
Cayman Islandsmarker 47,862 60.00% 28,717
British Virgin Islandsmarker 24,004 83.00% 19,923
Turks and Caicos islands 26,000 34.00% 18,000
Europe 590,856,462.00 4.1% 9,300,999
Francemarker 62,752,136 5% (inc. French Guiana and other territories) 3,000,000
Netherlandsmarker 16,491,461 3.1% 507,000
United Kingdommarker 60,609,153 3.0% (inc. partial) 2,015,400
     ||      59,448,163      ||      1.3%    ||      755,000
Turkeymarker 73,914,000 ?% 700,000
Spainmarker 40,397,842 1.3% 505,400
Germanymarker 82,000,000 0.6% 500,000[12228]
Russiamarker 141,594,000 0.12% 400,000
Portugalmarker 10,605,870 2.0% 201,200
Swedenmarker 9,263,872 ?% 70,000
Belgiummarker 10,666,866 ?% 45,000
Republic of Irelandmarker 4,339,000 1.1% 43,000
Finlandmarker 5,340,783 ?% 20,000
Polandmarker 38,082,000 0.002% 5,780
Hungarymarker 10,198,325 0.003% 321
Asia 3,879,000,000 ?% ?
Israelmarker 7,411,000 2.8% 200,000
Japanmarker 127,756,815 ?% 10,000 -
Indiamarker 1,132,446,000 .003% 40,000
Pakistanmarker 172,900,000 ?% 10,000
Chinamarker 1,321,851,888 ?% 8,000+
Singaporemarker 4,839,400 ?% 6,900
South America/Central America 425,664,476 23.9% 101,532,873
Belizemarker 301,270 31.00% 93,394
Guatemalamarker 13,002,206 2.00% 260,044
El Salvadormarker 7,066,403 0.01% 0*
Hondurasmarker 7,639,327 2.00% 152,787
Nicaraguamarker 5,785,846 9.00% 520,726
Costa Ricamarker 4,195,914 3.00% 125,877
Panamamarker 3,292,693 14.00% 460,977
Colombiamarker 45,013,674 26.0% 11,703,555
Venezuelamarker 26,414,815 Between 10-26.5% 2,641,481 - 6,999,926*
Guyanamarker 770,794 36.00% 277,486
Surinamemarker 475,996 47.00% 223,718
French Guianamarker 199,509 66.00% 131,676
Brazilmarker 191,908,598 44.70% 85,783,143
Ecuadormarker 13,927,650 3.00% 417,830
Perumarker 29,180,899 3.00% 875,427
Boliviamarker 9,247,816 1.1% 108,000
Chilemarker 16,454,143 0.1% 0*
Paraguaymarker 6,831,306 0.1% 0*
Argentinamarker 40,677,348 0.1% 0*
Uruguaymarker 3,477,778 4.00% 139,111
North America 440,244,038 11.8% 39,264,514
United Statesmarker 298,444,215 12.90% 38,499,304
Canadamarker 33,098,932 2.7% 783,795
Mexicomarker 108,700,891 <1.00%></1.00%> 103,000
Australia 21,000,000 0.9% (includes partial) 248,605
Sub-Saharan Africa 770,300,000 95.8%-98.4% 738,160,600-758,197,730
Kenyamarker 39,002,772 99% 38,612,744
Madagascarmarker 19,625,000 0-79%(latter including mixed) 0-15,503,750
Mauritiusmarker 1,227,078 27%(including mixed) 331,311
Réunionmarker 827,000 no official figures allowed;estimates for Creoles range from 15% and 59.4%.
Estimates for only African/Malagasy go up to 35%
INSEE estimated the creole population at 42% in 1974

South Africa 49,320,000 79.5%-88.4%(latter including mixed) 39,209,400-43,598,880
Tanzania 41,048,532 99% 40,638,047
Zimbabwemarker 11,392,629 98% 11,164,776
Outside Africa 5,821,000,000 2.9% 168,879,165
Total 6,591,000,000 13.8%-14% 907,039,760-927,076,890
(*)Note that population statistics from different sources and countries use highly divergent methods of rating the "race", ethnicity, or national or genetic origin of individuals, from observing for color and racial characteristics, to asking the person to choose from a set of pre-defined choices, sometimes with an Other category, and sometimes with an open-ended option, and sometimes not, which different national populations tend to choose in divergent ways. Color and visual characteristics were considered an invalid way to determine the genetic "racial" branch in anthopology (the field of science that original conceived of "race", as a genetic branch of people who could have a relative success together compared with other branches, now considered invalid) as of 1910, thus not fully reflecting the percentage of the population who actually are of African heritage.

Top 15 African diaspora populations

Country Population Rank
85,783,143 1
38,499,304 2
9,452,872 3
8,701,439 4
7,985,991 5
3,000,000 6
2,731,419 7
2,641,481 - 6,999,926 8
2,080,000 9
1,126,894 10
875,427 11
800,000 12
783,795 13
750,000 14
610,000 15
520,726 16

North America

Several migration waves to the Americas, as well as relocations within the Americas, have brought people of African descent to North America. According to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culturemarker, the first African populations came to North America in the 16th century via Mexico and the Caribbeanmarker to the Spanish colonies of Florida, Texas and other parts of the South. Out of the 12 million people from Africa who were shipped to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade, 645,000 were shipped to the British colonies on the North American mainland and the United States; another 1,840,000 arrived at other British colonies, chiefly the West Indies. In 2000, African Americans comprised 12.1 percent of the total population in the United States, constituting the largest racial minority group. The African American population is concentrated in the southern states and urban areas.

In the construction of the African Diaspora, the transatlantic slave trade is often considered the defining element, but people of African descent have engaged in eleven other migration movements involving North America since the 16th century, many being voluntary migrations, although undertaken in exploitative and hostile environments.

In the 1860s, people from sub-Saharan Africa, mainly from West Africa and the Cape Verde Islandsmarker, started to arrive in a voluntary immigration wave to seek employment as whalers in Massachusettsmarker. This migration continued until restrictive laws were enacted in 1921 that in effect closed the door on non-Europeans, but by that time, men of African ancestry were already a majority in New Englandmarker’s whaling industry, with African Americans working as sailors, blacksmiths, shipbuilders, officers, and owners, eventually bringing their trade to California.

1.7 million people in the United States are descended from voluntary immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. African immigrants represent 6 percent of all immigrants to the United States and almost 5 percent of the African American community nationwide. About 57 percent immigrated between 1990 and 2000. Immigrants born in Africa constitute 1.6 percent of the black population. People of the African immigrant diaspora are the most educated population group in the United States — 50 percent have bachelor's or advanced degrees, compared to 23 percent of native-born Americans. The largest African immigrant communities in the United States are in New Yorkmarker, followed by Californiamarker, Texasmarker, and Marylandmarker. The states with the highest percentages of Africans in their total populations are the District of Columbiamarker, followed by Mississippimarker, and Louisianamarker. Refugees represent a minority.

U.S. Bureau of the Census categorizes the population by race based on self-identification. The census surveys have no provision for a "multiracial" or "biracial" self-identity, but since 2000, respondents may check off more than one box and claim multiple ethnicity that way.

Latin America

At an intermediate level, in Latin America and in the former plantations in and around the Indian Ocean, descendants of enslaved people are a bit harder to define because many people are mixed in demographic proportion to the original slave population. In places that imported relatively few slaves (like Argentinamarker or Chilemarker), few if any are considered Black today. In places that imported many enslaved people (like Brazilmarker or Dominican Republicmarker), the number is larger, but most are of mixed ancestry.


The Situation in EuropeIn Council of Europe countries, African Diasporans and their descendants are neither specifically identified nor described in national statistics by the colour of their skin. At best, both first and subsequent generations are described in national statistics as “foreign born citizens”. Of 42 countries surveyed by a European Commission against Racism and Intolerance study in 2007, it was found that 29 collected official statistics on country of birth, 37 on citizenship, 24 on religion, 26 on language, 6 on country of birth of parents, and 22 on nationality or ethnicity. The major result of this routine is that even though people of African descent may outnumber other ethnic minorities in some European countries, there is no statistical evidence to support the notion that they may qualify for special measures as minorities where they live. They are, in a word: invisible. (In "Basic Facts About the African Diaspora", by M. Arthur Robinson Diakité, .

United Kingdom

2 million (not including British Mixed) split evenly between Afro-Caribbeans and Africans.


Estimates of 2 to 3 million of African descent, although 1/4 of the Afro-French or French African population live in overseas territories.

see: Afro-French


About 500,000 of Surinamesemarker and Dutch Antillesmarker descent. They mainly live in the islands of Arubamarker, Bonairemarker, Curacaomarker and Saint Martinmarker (which is half French), but many Afro-Dutch people also live in the Netherlands.


The first blacks in Russiamarker were the result of slave trade by the Ottoman empire and their descendants still live on the coasts of the Black Seamarker. Czar Peter the Great was recommended by his friend Lefort to bring in Africans to Russia for hard labor. Alexander Pushkin was the descendant of the African slave Abram Petrovich Gannibal, who became Peter's protege, was educated as a military engineer in France, and eventually became general-en-chef, responsible for the building of sea forts and canals in Russia.

During the 1930s fifteen Black American families moved to the Soviet Unionmarker as agricultural experts. As African states became independent in the 1960s, the Soviet Unionmarker offered them the chance to study in Russia; over 40 years, 400,000 African students came, and many settled there.

Note that there are also non-African people within the former Soviet Union who are colloquially referred to as "the blacks" (chernye). Gypsies, Georgians, and Tatars fall into this category .

See also: Racism in modern Russia.


Beginning several centuries ago, a number of sub-Saharan Africans, usually via Zanzibarmarker and from places like Kenyamarker, Sudanmarker, Ghanamarker, Nigeriamarker were brought by Turkish slave traders during the Ottoman Empire to plantations around Dalamanmarker, Menderes and Gediz valleys, Manavgatmarker, and Çukurovamarker.

The Americas

  • African Americans - There are an estimated 40 million people of African descent in the US. Note that this figure (here, and in the chart, above) directly conflicts with information in this same article that says that 30% of US people have genetic content from the [post 1400] African diaspora.
  • Afro-Latin American - There are an estimated 100 million people of African descent living in Latin America, making up 45 % of Brazilmarker's population. There are also sizeable African populations in Cubamarker, Haitimarker, Colombiamarker, Dominican Republicmarker and Venezuelamarker.
  • The population in the Caribbeanmarker is approximately 23 million. Significant numbers of African-descended people include Haitimarker - 8 million, Dominican Republicmarker - 7.9 million, and Jamaicamarker - 2.7 million,


Much of the earliest black presence in Canadamarker came from the United Statesmarker, comprising African Americans who came as Loyalists or escaped along the Underground Railroad to locations in Nova Scotiamarker and Southwestern Ontario. Slavery had begun to be outlawed in British North America as early as 1793. Later black immigration to Canada came primarily from the Caribbeanmarker, in such numbers that fully 70 per cent of all blacks now in Canada are of Caribbean origin.

As a result of the prominence of Caribbean immigration, the term "African Canadian", while sometimes used to refer to the minority of Canadian blacks who have direct African or African American heritage, is not normally used to denote black Canadians. Blacks of Caribbean origin are usually denoted as "West Indian Canadian", "Caribbean Canadian" or more rarely "Afro-Caribbean Canadian", but there remains no widely used alternative to "Black Canadian" which is considered inclusive of both the African and Caribbean black communities in Canada.

Indian and Pacific Oceans

Some Pan-Africanists also consider other Africoid peoples as diasporic African peoples. These groups include, among others, Negritos, such as in the case of the peoples of the Malay Peninsula (Orang Asli); New Guineamarker (Papuans); Andamanese; certain peoples of the Indian subcontinent, notably Vedda people and Dravidians such as Tamils; and the aboriginal peoples of Melanesia and Micronesia. Most of these claims are rejected by mainstream ethnologists as pseudoscience and pseudoanthropology as part of ideologically motivated Afrocentrist irredentism, touted primarily among some extremist elements in the United Statesmarker who do not reflect on the mainstream African-American community. Mainstream anthropologists determine that the Andamanese and others are part of a network of Proto-Australoid and Paleo Mediterranean ethnic groups present in South Asia that trace their genetic ancestry to a migratory sequence that culminated in the Australian aboriginals rather than from African peoples directly (though indirectly, they did originate from prehistoric groups out of Africa as did all human beings on this planet).

See also


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