Canadians are marrying overseas more frequently than ever. Some of the lovelorn are hoping to find a foreign fiance who embraces a more traditional marriage arrangement. Some Canadian men want women whose cultural beliefs make them keener on an old-fashioned domestic, motherhood role, and some Canadian women seem to prefer men who aren't spending more time and money their clothes and hair (or video games and sports) than they are on romantic dinners or investments. We're not saying that all Canadians trying to find international love are looking to turn back the clock a few gentle ticks, but it's a reality for many of our clients.

It's important to remember, however, that many of the countries popular with Canadians seeking a match abroad are just as diverse as Canada. Just because your future wife was born in Cuba doesn't mean she's a skilled dancer with a hot temper. Cuba, like all of the countries on this list, has a complex history that has created a mixture of ethnicities and cultures. Let's look at the ethnic makeup of 8 of the top countries where the most Canadian's foreign spouses come from. The more you know...

 

The United States

Maida Kemp and two other American women by https://www.flickr.com/photos/kheelcenter/

Maida Springer et al. by Kheel Center / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Our neighbour to the south distinguishes itself from our approach to multiculturalism, preferring the metaphor of the melting pot. With several competing histories of European colonialism (mainly the Spanish, French, Dutch and linguistically victorious English), plus a large variety of native groups, plus millions of slaves from Africa, plus centuries of immigration from all over the world, and you have quite a melted pot indeed. The most recent US census data projects that the following main ethnic categories will make up the US in 2015.

  • White: 61.8% or 198,517,050 people
  • Hispanic/Latino: 17.8% or 57,178,050 people
  • African-American: 13.2% or 42,401,700 people
  • Asian: 5.3% or 17,024,925 people
  • Multi-racial: 2.6% or 8,351,850 people
Ethnic Make Up of the United States

 

Cuba

Havana by https://www.flickr.com/photos/talasrum/

Havana by talasrum / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Just off the tip of America's southeastern tropical retirement community sits Cuba, the little communist island that could. Like America, it hosted an influx of Europeans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and like America it imported Africans against their will.

  • Latin/European: 65% or 7,325,500 people
  • Interracial: 24% or 2,704,800 people
  • African: 10% or 1,127,000 people
  • Asian: 1% or 122,700 people
Ethnic Make Up of Cuba

 

Brazil

Itacare by https://www.flickr.com/photos/dr_tr/

Itacare by dr_tr / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The biggest South American country, Brazil, shares a similar pattern of native settlement, European colonization, slavery, and international immigration shared by Canada and the US. In Brazil, there is a much more prominent multiracial and native population, and a slightly different way of commonly referring to ethnic categories. These stats come from the 2010 census:

  • White/European (largely Portuguese): 48% or 95,376,000 people
  • Pardo or interracial: 43% or 85,441,000 people
  • African: 8% or 15,896,000 people
  • Asian (largely Japanese): 1% or 1,987,000 people
Ethnic Makeup of Brazil

 

Colombia

Coffe in Cauca by https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciat/

Colombian Coffee by Neil Palmer (CIAT) / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Like Brazil, Colombia has a high multiracial population, with mixed-race citizens forming almost half of the population. Unlike Brazil, Colombia hasn't been the destination for quite as many international immigrants in the last hundred years, and certainly not in the last few decades of intense violent criminal activity. As the power of drug cartels and armed guerrillas fade, Colombia is poised to house a growing number of immigrants.

  • Mestizo (European/Native mix): 49% or 23,373,000 people
  • White (European, largely Spanish): 37% or 17,649,000 people
  • African: 10% or 4,770,000 people
  • Native: 4% or 1,908,000 people
Ethnic Makeup of Colombia

 

China

Chinese Cyclist by https://www.flickr.com/photos/afoncubierta/

Chinese cyclist by Antonio Foncubierta / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

China, the most populous country on earth, has a dominant ethnic majority: the Han Chinese. But because we're talking about a population north of 1.3 billion people, even 1% of the total population makes for minority populations of over 10 million. These numbers are from 2010.

  • Han: 1215900000
  • Zhuang: 13510000
  • Hui: 13510000
  • Manchu: >13510000
  • Uighur: 13510000
  • Tibetan: 13510000
  • Mongol: 13510000
  • Miao: 13510000
  • Yi: 13510000
  • Tujia: 13510000
  • Buyei: 13510000
Ethnic Makeup of China

 

Vietnam

Vietnamese food by https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronnie44052/

Vietnamese food by Rona Proudfoot / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Vietnam is also dominated by a single ethnicity, the Kinh.  Smaller groups come from neighbouring countries, like Thais, or Hmong from Laos and Khmer from Cambodia. As in most Southeast Asian countries, there are also large groups of ethnic Chinese, many of whose ancestors emigrated centuries ago.

  • Kinh: 87% or 77,238,600 people
  • Others: 3% or 2,663,400 people
  • Tay: 2% or 1,775,600 people
  • Thai: 2%
  • Murong: 1.5% or 1,331,700 people
  • Khmer: 1.5%
  • Hmong: 1% or 887,800 people
  • Hoa (Chinese): 1%
  • Dao: 1%
Ethnic Makeup of Vietnam

 

Philippines

Girl from Davao by https://www.flickr.com/photos/adforce1/

Davaoena by William Cho / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Philippines have a single main ethnic group, the Malay-Polynesian, within which are many ethno-linguistic divisions. Trading and labour colonies of South Asian, Chinese, Indonesian, and other Southeast Asian ethnicities established small pockets of diversity among the country's many islands. And then of course the Spanish showed up in the 16th century, creating a small mestizo minority. See the huge percentage of ethnicities in the “other” category below.

  • Tagalog: 28.1% or 27,175,510 people
  • Other (including Chinese and mestizo): 25.3% or 24,467,630 people
  • Cebuano: 13.1% or 12,669,010 people
  • Ilocano: 9% or 8,703,900 people
  • Bisaya/Binisaya: 7.6% or 7,349,960 people
  • Hiligaynon Ilonggo: 7.5% or 7,253,250 people
  • Bikol: 6% or 5,802,600 people
  • Waray: 3.4% or 3,288,140 people
Ethnic Makeup of Philippines

 

Thailand

Thai Girl By YashiWong (Own work) [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thai beauty pageant by Yashi Wong / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Much like the Philippines, Thailand has a single main ethnic group, within which there are many micro-divisions. Unlike their neighbours, the Thais were never successfully colonized by a European nation, so most of Thailand's ethnic diversity comes from China, South Asia, and other Southeast Asian countries.

  • Thai: 75% or 50,092,500 people
  • Thai Chinese: 14% or 9,350,600 people
  • Other: 11% or 7,346,900 people
Ethnic Makeup of Thailand

 

So, before you go overseas searching for that perfect man woman, remember that there's more going on in your future spouse's background than you might think. Be sure to fully consider the cultural traits that best suit your vision of marriage and do your research. You might need to know your Bisaya from your Bikol!

Is your future spouse's country not on this list? Find it here.

Learn more about sponsoring a foreign spouse to Canada

 


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