Vancouver – Ethnic Groups

Vancouver’s entry into the Olympic arena was strengthened by the city’s long-time diversity. In addition to more than a half dozen First Nation tribes, who were the city’s first inhabitants and who still live there today, there are many other groups who make the magical blend that puts Vancouver on every list of Best Cities to reside in or visit.

Vancouver is the second most popular destination for immigrants to Canada (after Toronto).

Vancouver has the largest First Nations indigenous community in the province. The biggest groups are Squamish, Musqueam L’il Waat and Tseil-waututh. Other local tribes include the Tsawwassen and Metis. Many non-local nearby tribes like the Haida and the Kwagiutl also have residents in the city.

In addition to the Coast Salish tribal First Nations, people of English, Scottish and Irish origins were historically the largest ethnic groups in the city. South Granville and Kerrisdale were particularly favored areas.

Germans were the next-largest European ethnic group to settle in Vancouver. They were a leading force in the city’s society and economy until the rise of anti-German feeling when World War I erupted in 1914.

Scandinavian, Italian, Ukrainian and Greek communities are well established, too. Vancouver has the 3rd largest Portuguese population in Canada, after Toronto and Montreal. The Eastern Europeans, including Yugoslavs, Russians, Czechs, Poles and Hungarians began immigrating to Vancouver when the Soviets took over Eastern Europe after World War II.

The Chinese are by far the largest visible ethnic group in the city, and Vancouver has a very diverse Chinese-speaking community, with several dialects represented, beyond Cantonese and Mandarin. The historical Chinese population, mostly are descended from immigrants from Taishan (Toi Shan) in Guangdong. There was also a huge influx of ethnic Chinese from Hong Kong in the 1980s before the city returned to Chinese rule. This influx, plus previous immigrants from Taiwan, created one of the highest concentrations of ethnic Chinese residents in North America.

Other significant Asian ethnic groups in Vancouver include Indian sub-continent (mostly Punjabi, usually referred to as Indo-Canadian), Vietnamese, Filipino, Indonesian, Korean, Cambodian and Japanese.

Immigration from Latin America and Africa is quite low, for undetermined reasons. Immigrants from these continents make up only 3.6% and 3.3% of total immigrant population, respectively, and that proportion has remained constant over time.

The Olympic athletes and visitors will find a multi-ethnic community to enjoy in Vancouver when they arrive for the Winter Olympic Games in 2010, and the city’s residents are excited to be able to form new ties with their global guests.

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