The African Union describes the African diaspora as “people of native 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”. In this article, the term “African diaspora” is used to refer to both people whose ancestors were shipped abroad via the trans-Atlantic slave trade and those who have migrated voluntarily in more recent times.
1. United States – 46.9 million
As of 2020, there were 46.936 million black people in the United States of America. Most slaves from the trans-Atlantic slave trade were brought to the US. However, the current US Black population also comprises millions of Africans who moved there voluntarily. Africans continue to move to the US in search of better opportunities. The countries with the highest African-born people living in the US are Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia and Egypt. African-born immigrants are the most educated immigrant group in the US. African Americans are the largest racial minority group in the US, making up about 14% of the country’s population.
2. Brazil – 19.2 million
As of 2018, Brazil recorded a total number of 19.2 million people who identified as black “preto”. However, due to centuries of interracial blending, there are millions more who are of African ancestry. In a 2010 census, 86 million Brazilians identified as “pardo”, an ethnic category ascribed to Brazilians of mixed ethnic ancestries. The Portuguese started slave trade during the mid-16th century, bringing in more than 5 million slaves mostly from Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria, Congo, Benin and Ghana. In 1888, the slave trade ended and some enslaved people returned to Africa while most of them stayed back in Brazil.
African culture is deeply engrained in much of Brazilian culture. For example, the Afro-Brazilian religion “Candomblé” has roots in the traditional Yoruba religion of West Africa. It involves the worship of Orixas – spelt òrìṣà in the original Yoruba language.
3. Haiti- 10.1 million
At 10.1 million, Afro-Haitians account for over 85% of Haiti’s population. The majority group traces their full or partial ancestry to Africa. Many Afro-Haitians are descendants of slaves who were brought to the Island by the Kingdom of France and Spanish Empire to work on plantations. Most of the slaves were brought in from West and Central African countries like Ghana, Benin, Senegal, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and so on. Afro-Haitians are very in tune with African culture, especially Dahomey-Nigerian culture. Much of Haiti’s music is Congolese-influenced.
4. Dominican Republic – 9.2 million
As of 2018, the population of black or mixed – with African ancestry – Dominicans in the Dominican Republic was 9.2 million. This accounts for over 70% of the country’s population. Most Afro-Dominicans’ ancestors originated as slaves from Central and West Africa between the 16th to 19th century. The Afro-Dominican population also includes people from the French and Anglo Caribbean countries who immigrated in the 20th century. African culture is engrained in much of the country’s music, cuisine, and language.
5. Colombia – 4.9 million
At 4.9 million, Afro-Colombians or African-Colombians make up over 10% of Colombia’s population. Africans were brought as slaves from West African countries during the early 16th century to replace the dwindling Native American population. They were forced to work on plantations, large haciendas, cattle ranches and gold mines. Colombia’s native musical genres can be traced to African folklore musical origins.
6. France – 3.8 million
The Afro-French are estimated to be between 3-5 million. It is illegal for the French government to collect data on ethnicity and race, hence the wide gap in estimates. World Atlas put the Afro-French population at 3.8 million in 2018. Most Afro-French are from France’s former colonies in Africa: some North African countries, and West African countries like Mali and Senegal. African immigrants came in large numbers in the 60s and have continued to move there since then to seek employment and opportunities. The Afro-French minority contribute a great to deal to French society, development, and culture.
7. Venezuela- 3.2 million
Afro-Venezuelans are mostly descendants of the 100, 000 African slaves brought to Venezuela during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The slaves were mainly from Igbo, Kalabari, Yoruba, Wolof and Kongo tribes from present-day Nigeria, Angola, the Congo, Senegal and so on. The slaves worked on gold mines and as pearl divers and fishers. A lot of Afro-Venezuelan musical expression has African roots. African influences on culture in Venezuela though, are mostly from modern migration. At 3.2 million, Afro-Venezuelans make up about 11% of the country’s population.
8. Jamaica- 2.8 million
At 2.8 million, Afro-Jamaicans make up over 90% of Jamaica’s population. Most Afro-Jamaicans are descendants of slaves from the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Most of the slaves brought in were from the Akan, Igbo, Ibibio, Yoruba, and Fon ethnic groups of present-day Ghana, Nigeria, and Benin Republic. Jamaican Patois is an English-based Creole language that has significant West African influences, especially from Ghana’s Akan language. Jamaican culture is heavily influenced by African culture.
9. Mexico – 2.57 million
At 2.57 million, Afro-Mexicans make up about 2% of Mexico’s population. Afro-Mexicans mostly descended from the free and the 200,000 enslaved Black Africans who arrived in the country during the colonial era. However, there are also descendants of Black Africans who arrived after Mexico gained independence from Spanish rule in the 19th century. Although, African culture was largely suppressed amongst the slaves, elements of African influence can still be seen in Afro-Mexican cuisine, music and language today.
10. United Kingdom – 2.5 million
At 2.5 million, Black British people make up about 3% of the UK’s population. Black British People refers to both those of African descent and those of Afro-Caribbean descent. Most Black British live in the Greater London area and are descendants of slaves. The diaspora who came from the slave trade era, which ended in the 19th century, have been called the “old diaspora”. The “new diaspora” comprises those who migrated voluntarily as students and workers, especially post British colonial rule.
Black British speech is heavily influenced by Jamaican Patois, as there are several Jamaican immigrants. In the same vein, Jamaican and other Caribbean music genres found prominence amongst Black British people, however, Afrobeat genres from Nigeria and Ghana have become more popular in recent years.