Latin American Australian refers to Australian persons who were born in Latin America (including the Caribbean and Central America) irrespective of their ancestral backgrounds, and their descendants. Chilean Australians make up the largest proportion of Latin American Australians, followed by Salvadoran Australians. Most Latin American Australians speak English but many continue to use Spanish or Portuguese as well.
At the 2006 Census 86,156 Australian residents declared that they were born in South America (69,157), Central America (12,959) or the Caribbean (4,040). They constitute only 0.43% of the Australian population. 93,795 residents declared themselves being of South American, Central American or Caribbean ancestry (either alone or in combination with one other ancestry).
The Latin American country that has contributed the largest proportion of immigrants to Australia is Chile - in the 2006 Census 23,305 Australian residents declared they were born in Chile. Other source Latin American countries include El Salvador (18,000), Argentina (11,369 residents), Uruguay (9,376), Brazil (7,491), Peru (6,322), Colombia (5,706), and Ecuador (1,356). Many believe that there is as many as 130,000 Latin Americans living in Australia.
Within the Latin American minority, there are people of different national and ethnic origins. Physical appearances vary widely and often show the blending of European, Amerindian, and African features that has occurred over many generations. Most Central Americans are mestizos. Mestizos have both European and American Indian ancestors and, in some cases, African ancestors as well. Their European ancestors were mostly Spaniards. Their Indian ancestors were living in what is now Latin America when the Spaniards arrived. Most of the African ancestors were brought as slaves to the region while it was in Spanish control. Many Colombians are of mixed Spanish and African descent (known as mulattoes), with their African ancestors having been brought over by the Spaniards to work as slaves. Many other Colombians have American Indian ancestry as well. Most Argentine-Australians are of Spanish and/or Italian descent, though other ethnic groups such as the British, Eastern Europeans, Arabs, Mestizos and Mulattoes also emigrated from Argentina.
Sydney is home to the largest proportion of Latin American Australians - 66% of Uruguay-born, 62% of Peru-born, 47% each of Chile-born and Colombia-born, and 42% of Brazilian-born respondents at the 2006 Census were residing in Sydney. Persons from El Salvador however have different settlement patters - only 18% were residing in Sydney, while 32% were in Melbourne and 21% were in Brisbane.
Food is one area in which Latin America has influenced cuisine in Australia. Mexican foods are especially popular. The taco, a folded tortilla filled with meat, cheese and other ingredients. Other Latin American dishes, such as enchiladas, tamales, tostadas and empanadas are also served in many Latin American-themed restaurants.
Notable Latin American Australians
There have been many distinguished Latin American Australians, in sports, the arts, politics and other areas. These include: