These Unexpected Faces of Diversity Will Make Your Jaw Drop

By Sean Braswell


The world is a wonderful and diverse place — even more than you might think. 

We all know that our planet has population ebbs and flows, porous borders and a swirl of cultural diversity. But it’s one thing to know it and another to really get it. Here are a few groups that caught OZY’s eye. 

1.  From Nicaragua by Way of Africa

Around 9 percent of Nicaragua’s population is black, or Afro-Nicaraguan, the largest Afro-Latin American population in Central America. Most Afro-Nicaraguans are English-speaking Creoles who live on the country’s sparsely populated southeastern “mosquito coast,” the descendants of former slaves brought to Jamaica as early as the 17th century.


2.  More Lebanese Than Lebanon

Why is it so easy to find hummus, sfihas, kibbeh and other Lebanese dishes in Brazil? Because there are at least 7 million “Brazilebanese” who live there, making the country home to almost twice as many Lebanese as Lebanon itself. Lebanese Christians began to emigrate to Brazil in the late 19th century, and Lebanon’s civil war between 1975 and 1990 led to a large influx of migrants.

3.  South Africa’s Indian Influx

Over 1.3 million people of Indian descent live in South Africa. The majority live in Durban, the city where Gandhi worked as a lawyer in the early 20th century, and which is now the largest “Indian” city outside of India. Most Indian South Africans are descended from indentured laborers brought by the British to work the sugar-cane plantations in the 19th century.

4.  How Iraqi-Swede It Is 

Believe it or not, Iraqis comprise almost 2 percent of Sweden’s population, or 170,000. That figure doubled between 2002 and 2009, during the Iraq War, when Sweden granted asylum status to more Iraqis than the rest of the EU combined took in.

5.  Peruchinese?

Chinese Peruvians, or tusán (“local born”), number over 1.3 million in Peru, or about 3-4 percent of its population. Most are descended from Cantonese contract laborers or “coolies” who made a four-month boat trip from Macau in the late 19th century to work in Peru’s mines and sugar plantations.