School of Geography


The Latin American Community in London

McIlwaine, C. and Bunge, D. (2016) Towards Visibility: the Latin American Community in London, Trust for London, London. Key findings [pdf]  Full report [pdf]

This website relates to a research project entitled the Latin American Community in London funded by the Trust for London and the Latin American Women’s Rights Service that was carried out between 2009 and 2010. It was directed by Dr Cathy McIlwaine (

The research provides a comprehensive overview of the characteristics of the Latin American population living and working in London. London was chosen as the main location for the research for two main reasons; first, because the majority of Latin Americans in the UK are concentrated here and second, because London is the geographical remit of the two organisations who commissioned the research.

The research responds to the lack of existing information on this community (although there is some research on the community, it is still limited). The project is based is the first compilation of official statistical data sources on Latin Americans in London in order to provide an estimate of the size of the population. The project is also the first large-scale quantitative survey of the Latin American community in the city across a wide range of nationalities and socio-economic groups.

The research had four main objectives:

  • To provide an estimate of the size of the Latin American population living and working in London.
  • To undertake quantitative research that provides an analysis of some key economic and social features of the Latin American community in London.
  • To undertake new qualitative research to explore the meaning and causes of the quantitative findings including motivations for migration to London, economic choices, barriers to accessing services and support.
  • To identify the key unmet needs of the Latin American community in London.

The project entailed a long questionnaire survey with 453 Latin Americans in order to gather a wide range of migratory, economic and social information, as well as a short questionnaire with a further 509 individuals. A survey of 52 second generation Latin Americans was also carried out. In total, 1014 people were included in the quantitative research. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted with 50 people who had already been interviewed in the survey, and 4 focus groups organised with a total of an additional 20 people. Representatives from a range of different organisations working with Latin Americans were also interviewed (15).

The definition of Latin American used in the project were people who were Spanish or Portuguese first language speakers from the Central and South American geographical regions. It also included those from Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands of Cuba and the Dominican Republic. It excluded non-Spanish and non-Portuguese speaking countries in the region such as Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana, Haiti, Jamaica and the other Caribbean islands. Twenty countries were included in total: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Second generation Latin Americans were defined as those who were born in the UK with at least one parent from Latin America or who had come to the UK before they were 7 years old.

In terms of the themes of the research, it addresses the migration experiences of Latin Americans in London, including their working and social lives as well as the linkages they maintain with their home countries. It also identifies the services used by Latin Americans as well as their main needs and the types of projects they require to meet these needs.

The work was led by Cathy McIlwaine in the School of Geography together with Juan Camilo Cock (now based at the Migrants Rights Network) who was the coordinator and Brian Linneker who carried out the statistical analysis. A series of researchers were also involved including Marcela Benedetti, Luz Dary Duque Parra, Yara Evans, Claudia Forero, Ana Carla Franca, Felicia Luvumba, Azul Mertnoff, Sara Santiago Chavez, Olivia Sheringham, Mayra Tipán, Yenny Tovar, Vladimir Velásquez Cárdenas and Carolina Velásquez Correa.


The English version of the main report from this project called ‘No Longer Invisible’ [pdf]

'No longer Invisible': Key findings [pdf]

Summaries of the final report in Spanish [pdf]

Summaries of the final report in Portuguese [pdf]

Estimating the Latin American Population of London from Official Data Sources [pdf]

Distribution of Latin Americans by borough of residence [doc]

Press Release: London’s growing Latin American population face high levels of exploitation and discrimination [pdf]


Funding organisations:

Trust for London

Latin American Women’s Rights Service

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