A Chinatown is an ethnic enclave of expatriate Chinese people. Chinatowns exist throughout the world, including Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Americas, Australasia, and Europe. Binondo's Chinatown located in Manila, Philippines is the oldest Chinatown, established in 1594. Many Chinatowns are considered significant centers of commerce and tourism, while some also serve, to varying degrees, as centers of multiculturalism.
While some Chinatowns are focused on commercial tourism, others are actual living and working communities; many are in fact a synergetic synthesis of both. Chinatowns can range from slum ghettos to modern sites of up-to-date development. In some, recent investments have revitalized rundown and blighted areas and turned them into centers of buzzing economic and social activity. In certain cases, this has led to gentrification and a reduction in the specifically Chinese character of the neighborhoods.
Several Asian Chinatowns, although not yet called by that name, have a long history. Those in Nagasaki, Japan, Binondo in Manila, and Hoi An in central Vietnam all existed in 1600. Glodok, the Chinese quarter of Jakarta, Indonesia, dates to 1740. The Chinatown centered on Yaowarat Road in Bangkok, Thailand, was founded at the same time as the city itself, in 1782. The oldest Chinatown in the Americas, in Mexico City, dates to at least the early 17th century.
The Chinatown in San Francisco is one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and the oldest north of Mexico. Other cities in North America where Chinatowns were founded in the mid-nineteenth century include almost every major settlement along the West Coast from San Diego to Victoria. By the second half of the nineteenth century, bustling Chinatowns were also established in Vancouver, New York City, Chicago, Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Montreal. The discovery of gold in Australia caused the establishment of relatively small Chinatowns in cities there, and similar migrations of Chinese resulted in tiny settlements termed "Chinatowns" being established in New Zealand and South Africa. European Chinatowns, such as those in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, are for the most part smaller and of more recent history than their North American counterparts. Newer Chinatowns, such as Chinatown, Las Vegas in 1995, Dubai and Santo Domingo have also received official recognition recently.