Celtic Diaspora

Celtic Diaspora

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Emigration forms much of the modern history of the Celtic nations. Over the centuries people from every Celtic nation have scattered all over the world for various reasons, mainly due to economic hardship and political oppression.

As a result of that, it has been estimated that today there could be as many as 70 million people of Irish descent around the world, with a further 20 million of people claiming Scottish ancestry. Although not as many as their Irish and Scottish cousins, there also several millions of people of Welsh, Galician, Breton and Cornish ancestry scattered around the Americas and Down Under. Overall, there are well over 100 million people around the world who can claim descendancy from a Celtic nation.

The Irish in North America

In the 2006 American Community Survey a total of 35,975,855 Americans reported to have Irish ancestry. That means that a 12% of the total population of the USA is of full or partial Irish descent.

The largest Irish-American communities in the USA are mainly found in Boston, New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia, although Irish-American communities are found practically everywhere across the nation. Irish emigration had a profound impact on the USA, as shown by the fact that at least 10 US presidents had Irish ancestors.

Irish ancestry is also deep rooted in Canada, as declared by 4,354,155 Canadians (14% of the nation's total population) in the 2006 Canadian Census. Canada's largest Irish-Canadian community is found in Newfoundland, where almost 80% of Newfoundlanders claim to have full or partial Irish ancestry.

See also: CelticCountries.com » Irish societies around the world

The Irish in Australia

Around 50,000 Irish convicts and settlers arrived in Australia between 1791 and 1867, with a further 300,000 free settlers arriving between 1840 and 1914. From the earliest days of colonial settlement, the Irish played a crucial role in shaping Australian demography, society and economy.

Irish Australians currently account for almost 9% of Australia's population, according to the 2006 Census. Cities with the largest Irish emigrant communities are Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

See also: CelticCountries.com » Irish societies around the world

The Scots in North America

In the 2000 Census, around 4.8 million Americans (1.7% of the total US population) reported to have Scottish ancestry. However, some sources estimate that the number of Americans of partial Scottish descent could add up to 20 million.

Scottish settlers and convicts were transported to North America since the very first colonial settlements in the New World. As early as 1621 the Scots created the colony of Nova Scotia in eastern Canada.

Scottish heritage is particularly strong in Canada, where according to the 2001 national Census 4,157,210 people claim to have Scottish ancestry. The province of Nova Scotia is the focal point for Scottish culture in Canada. In Cape Breton Gaelic is still spoken and there is a Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts.

See also: CelticCountries.com » Scottish societies around the world

The Scots in New Zealand

It is estimated that around 20 percent of the original European settler population of New Zealand came originally from Scotland. Scottish migration to New Zealand peaked during the second half of the 19th century and its influence is still visible around the country, most particularly in the South Island.

The city of Dunedin is the principal centre of Scottish heritage in New Zealand. Founded in 1848 by the Free Church of Scotland as the main town of its Scottish settlement in New Zealand, the city boasts today a rich Scottish heritage including its own Highland Festival.

See also: CelticCountries.com » Scottish societies around the world

The Welsh in the Americas

Although not as large as the Irish or Scottish diaspora, Welsh emigration has actually been highly influential in the USA. Seventeen signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Welsh descent, as were at least ten US Presidents.

Today, around 1.75 million Americans claim to have Welsh ancestry, as well as a further 467,000 in Canada's 2006 census. The largest Welsh-American communities are mainly found in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Idaho.

A Welsh settlement in the far southern region of Patagonia, Argentina, was established in 1865 and has since left a strong mark on that part of the world. Many towns along the Chubut province bear Welsh names and it is estimated that about 1,500 Welsh-Argentinians can still speak Welsh.

See also: CelticCountries.com » Welsh societies around the world

The Galicians in Argentina

Around 700,000 Galician emigrants arrived in Argentina between 1857 and 1960, playing a crucial role in shaping Argentinian demography, society and economy. At least three Argentinian presidents were of Galician descent, and many of the nation's business and political leaders can claim Galician ancestry.

Today there are still over 110,000 Galician citizens living in Argentina, but it has been estimated that around 4 million Argentinians are of full or partial Galician descent. Given Galicia's population (just under 3 million), there are almost as many Galician-Argentinians as there are native Galicians living in their home country.

See also: CelticCountries.com » Galician societies around the world

The Bretons in Quebec

Internationally, Breton people have emigrated in relatively small numbers when compared to their Celtic cousins.

A significant number of Breton people have historically settled in the Canadian province of Quebec, where many towns and villages bear Breton names. Interest in Breton-Quebecois heritage has been on the increase over the past decades, and there are currently a number of societies promoting Quebec's Breton heritage.

See also: CelticCountries.com » Breton societies around the world

The Cornish in Australia

It is estimated that around 200,000 Cornish migrated abroad during the decline of Cornwall's mining industry between 1861 and 1901. Known as “Cousin Jacks”, many Cornish miners and their families migrated mainly to mining areas in Australia, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

Known as “Australia's Little Cornwall”, the mining town of Moonta in South Australia was originally predominately settled by Cornish families. The town organises annually the world's largest Cornish festival, where the local delicatesse is the Cornish Pasty.

See also: CelticCountries.com » Cornish societies around the world

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