Where is the African Diaspora?

A woman of African descent participates in Brazil's Carnival. Carnival, the largest festival in the world, is greatly influenced by African-Brazilian culture. Editorial credit: R.M. Nunes / Shutterstock.com.
A woman of African descent participates in Brazil's Carnival. Carnival, the largest festival in the world, is greatly influenced by African-Brazilian culture. Editorial credit: R.M. Nunes / Shutterstock.com.

The term ‘’African Diaspora’’ has been used by various politicians, historians, writers, and ethnographers to refer to all descendants of Africa. Some scholars have used it to refer to the current emigration from Africa. The African Union defines the African Diaspora as individuals of African origin living away from their home continent (Africa). The phrase "African Diaspora’’ was coined during the 19th century, but only came into common use during the 21st century. The largest population of the African Diaspora resides in the following nations.

Countries with the Largest African Diaspora Populations

1. Brazil - 55.9 Million

Brazil has an estimated 55.9 million people of African descent, making it the country with the largest African Diaspora population. The Portuguese started the slave trade during the 1550s, and they managed to trade over five million enslaved people from Mozambique, Congo, Angola, Nigeria, Benin, and Ghana. About 50% of those capturedc were brought to Brazil and forced to work on the mines and sugar plantations in northeastern parts of the country which includes the present day Bahia and Pernambuco states. The slave trade was the foundation of the economy of the country, and after it ended in 1888 many enslaved people settled in Brazil.

2. The United States - 46.4 Million

Although the Trans-Atlantic slave trade brought a majority of the slaves to the United States, many Africans also migrated to the United States voluntarily. Today, many people continue to emigrate from various countries in Africa to the United States. The number of African-born Americans has increased from 1,183,316 in 2000 to over 1,676,413 in 2010. The top countries of origin for the African-born people living in the United States include Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. The United States has an African Diaspora population of over 46.4 million people which is about 13.6% of the entire country's population.

3. Haiti - 10.1 Million

Afro-Haitians refer to all the citizens of Haiti of African descent. Many are the descendants of enslaved people who were once brought to Haiti by the French to work on plantations. The majority of these people came from West Africa and Central Africa mainly from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Sierra Leone, Benin and Senegal among others. Haiti has over 10.1 million Afro-Haitians which accounts for 95% of the nation’s population.

4. Dominican Republic - 9.2 Million

Afro-Dominicans refer to all Dominicans of African ancestry. The number of Afro-Dominicans whose ancestors were brought from Central Africa and West Africa from the 16th to the 19th century is 9.2 million. The population also includes all the other immigrants from the French and Anglo Caribbean nations who came to the Dominican Republic during the 20th century. The majority of the immigrants are from Haiti. The Afro-Dominicans are the significant minority population in the country.

5. Colombia - 4.9 Million

The Colombians of African descent are known as Afro-Colombians. With an African Diaspora population of about 4.9 million, Colombia has the third highest population of African diaspora members in the western hemisphere and the fifth largest globally. Africans were brought as slaves by 1520s from various West African nations including Cameroon, Nigeria, and Ghana among others to replace the reducing population of Native Americans. They were forced to work on large haciendas, cattle ranches, sugar cane plantations and gold mines. Currently, people of African descent make up over 10.6% of the population of Colombia.

The Growth of the African Diaspora

Modern mass emigration from Africa has played a significant role in the growth of current African Diaspora population. Many Africans have migrated in search of a better life with most of them moving to the developed countries like the United States. From 2000 to 2005 the rate of emigration grew to 440,000 Africans annually which increased the Global African Diaspora population. The United States alone had over 1.6 million African born people by 2010, and the number is still growing.

Where is the African Diaspora?

RankCountryAfrican Diaspora Population (Millions)
2United States46.4
4Dominican Republic9.2
9United Kingdom2.5

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