Mexican Britons

Latin American Britons

Latin American Britons are British people who were either born in Latin America or who have Latin American ancestors.

Significant migration from Latin America to the United Kingdom began in the 1970s, at a time of much political turmoil and civil unrest in Latin America. In recent times, Latin American culture has become more prominent in British life, mainly through the growing popularity of Salsa music, with clubs and bars all over the UK catering to this form of dance.


The size of the Latin American British population is highly debatable. According to the 2001 UK Census, 76,412 UK residents were born in South America and 8,827 in 'Other North America', which includes Central America (but also Greenland), bringing the Latin American born population in 2001 to around 85,000. At the start of the millennium, there was likely to be at least double the above figure of Latin American descent. The numbers recorded in the 2001 census may have been underestimates of the true Latin American population. For example only 5,000 Colombians were recorded by the census, whilst it was thought that at least 90,000 Colombians were actually residing in the UK at the time. In 1991, 10,000 Brazilians were living in the UK, whereas recent estimates suggest that there may now be some 200,000 (with around 60,000 in London alone). It is impossible to tell how people with Latin American ancestry are living in the UK, since the UK census does not collect ancestry data and there is no Latin American option in the ethnicity section of the census. There could be in excess of 1,000,000 Latin American Britons, although these statistics are described as "guesstimates" and rely largely on embassy estimates. It should be noted that there are also around 32,480 Hispanic American Britons.

Main groups

For the purposes of this article, "Latin America" comprises the Hispanic American countries and Brazil.


Brazilian born (2001 Census): 15,215
Estimates including ancestry: 200,000-300,000

Brazilians came to the UK from the 1980s onwards to study, but once they arrived some discovered that the major cities' (in particular London's) ethnic and cultural diversity offered more professional opportunities. In part, this immigration of Brazilians to Britain is a consequence of the economic possibility of travel. The Brazilian community has the biggest Latin American population throughout the whole of the UK. An estimated 200,000 - 300,000 live in the UK. The Brazilian community in Great Britain is known for its multicultural diversity of European (including Portuguese, Spanish, German, and Italian), African and East Asian (mostly Japanese) elements.

Notable Brazilian Britons


Colombian born (2001 Census): 12,331
Estimates including ancestry: 130,000-160,000

The mid-1980s saw Colombians arriving not only as political refugees, but also as migrant workers escaping conditions in their home country. Many of them went into the catering industry. Most Colombians live in Elephant and Castle and other parts of South London. 2003 estimates state at least 130,000 Colombians as living in the UK.

Notable Colombian Britons


Ecuadorian born (2001 Census): 3,035
Estimates including ancestry: 70,000-90,000

Notable Ecuadorian Britons


Chilean born (2001 Census): 5,131

When approximately 2,500 Chilean exiles (including businessmen, professors, and students) arrived in Great Britain, they were met by a small community of Latin people who were already there. Especially in the 1970s right wingers fleeing from the Allende administration and later leftists fleeing the Pinochet regime, the Chilean community has settled well in the country, and the majority are of European (other than Spanish) ancestry. The size of the Chilean population is hard to estimate as many have gone back to Chile, or move fluidly between several places, although 5,131 Chilean-born people were recorded in the 2001 Census.

Notable Chilean Britons


Argentinian born (2001 Census): 6,795

Argentina has a strong cultural connection with European nations, including Great Britain to some extent. Argentines have long settled in the country and the majority of Argentines in the UK came in the 1970s and 1980s to escape political repression, as well they stood loyal to the British effort in the Falkland Islands War in opposition to the military regime. 6,795 Argentine-born people were recorded in the 2001 UK census, a high percentage of British origin, especially of Scots, Irish, and Welsh ancestors.

Notable Argentine Britons


Mexican born (2001 Census): 5,049

Notable Mexican Britons


Peruvian born (2001 Census): 4,066
Estimates including ancestry: 45,000-65,000

Peruvians are a small but notable community in the British Latin American population. Most of them came since 1960 for either political asylum and economic reasons. Some Peruvians are of British ancestry at the first place, but the ethnic composition of Peruvians in Britain includes African, Italian, German and Swiss, Chinese, and Japanese ancestries.

Notable Peruvian Britons


Venezuelan born (2001 Census): 3,996


Cuban born (2001 Census): 1,083

A large number of Cubans have emigrated to the UK as an alternative to the US. The majority are refugees from the Castro regime in the 1960s and 1970s. Many have settled in London and have come together through the enjoyment of Salsa. The 2001 Census recorded 1,083 Cuban-born people. Cuban British population consists of Spanish and Jewish ethnicities.

Notable Cuban Britons




Other groups

The rest of the Latin American Briton community is made of Central Americans and Paraguayans.

Other Notable Latin American Britons

Culture and influence

The early 1980s saw the Latin American (or "Ibero-American") and Spanish communities coming together, getting organised and setting up cultural and social organisations. Examples are the Latin American House (since 1980), the Latin American Writers Group (since 1983) and the Latin American Research and Studies Centre, founded in 1987. Recently, this centre has been revived under the name of Latin American Foundation UK.

Nowadays, the Latin experience, Latin style, Latin restaurants, culture, the Lifestyle, salsa music & dance, live gigs, salsa weekenders, salsa clubs & classes, have impacted on the British way of life. In Lambeth the Latin American community has grown massivley within the last five years or so with Spanish being one of the main languages spoken in the borough. There are various festivals celebrating Latin American culture, with the two biggest (in Europe not just the UK) being the Carnival de Cuba and the Carnaval Del Pueblo, both held in London every July and August respectively.

Population spread

According to a 2005 report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, based on data from the 2001 Census, the ten census tracts with the largest South American-born populations are all in London. Hyde Park had the highest number of South Americans, followed by Vauxhall North, Kensington, Chelsea, Vauxhall South, Regent's Park, Streatham North, Hammersmith, Streatham South and Hackney South. Outside of London, the largest South American populations were to be found in Oxford, Cambridge, central Manchester, central Bristol, central Edinburgh and Milton Keynes.

See also

External links


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