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A Chinatown is a certain type of ethnic enclave of overseas Chinese people. Chinatowns are present throughout the world, including those in East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Americas, Australasia, and Europe. In the past, crowded Chinatowns in urban areas were places of cultural insularity.[citation needed] Currently, many old and new Chinatowns are considered significant centers of commerce and tourism.[citation needed] Some of them also serve, to varying degrees, as centers of multiculturalism.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] In some, recent investments have revitalized rundown and blighted areas and turned them into centers of buzzing economic and social activity.[citation needed] In certain cases, this has led to gentrification and a reduction in the specifically Chinese character of the neighborhoods.[citation needed]

Some Chinatowns have a long history, such as the Chinatown in Nagasaki, Japan, or Yaowarat Road in Bangkok, Thailand, both of which were founded by Chinese traders more than 200 years ago.[citation needed] The Chinatown in San Francisco is the oldest and one of the largest Chinatowns in North America. 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, Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit & Montreal.[citation needed] 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 even South Africa.[citation needed] European Chinatowns, such as those in 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.

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