With the largest concentration of African descent being in Brazil with over 133 million people, it is no secret that African-descendant people have made significant contributions to the development of Latin America.
Despite still facing strong racial discrimination, after living on the continent for more than 300 years, Afro-Latinos’ essence can be seen in gastronomy, music, sports, arts, science, social and political organizations.
Travel noire has put together this list of the 8 Blackest cities in Latin America where Black culture is prominent. When you visit, don’t miss the entertainment, history and culture as well as the opportunity to connect with the African diaspora.
1. Límon, Costa Rica
Located on Costa Rica’s Atlantic coast, Límon is considered the land of Afro-Costa Ricans. The city holds stunning landscapes, world-class beaches and beautiful and diverse fauna and flora.
Nearly 24 % (roughly 90,000 people) make up the Afro-Caribbean community of Límon. The presence of this cultural manifestation has enriched the history of Costa Rica.
The influence of the inherited customs of West Africa and the Antilles has definitively marked what Afro-Costa Rican culture is, both in architecture, gastronomy, and music and its traditions.
2. Esmeraldas, Ecuador
With a population of roughly 650,000 people, of which 70% of its inhabitants are Afro-Ecuadorians, Esmeraldas is said to be the land of Afro-Ecuadorians. Ecuador’s Esmeraldas maintain the cuisine, culture, and particularities of many African countries. Also, the city is home to breathtaking landscapes, with outstanding beaches. The distance between Esmeraldas and Quito is 113 km. From the US, direct routes to Quito are operated by Delta, American Airlines, United and LATAM from Miami, Houston and Atlanta
3. Havana, Cuba
Havana is a city that amazes travelers as soon as they arrive. Even if you are staying in a five-star hotel in an upscale area of the city, you will have to pass through the Havana Vieja neighborhood, where many Afro-Cubans are located. It is estimated that Havana has 38% of Afro-descendants (Black and Brown) people. Havana’s food has a strong African influence.
If you want something very typical, try the congri, which is a mixture of cooked rice and beans, all together. Rumba music and Santeria (Afro-Cuban religion) also remark Havana as one of the Blackest cities in Latin America. One of the places to visit in Havana is The Museo Casa da África (House Museum of Africa) located on Calle Mercaderes in the historic center of Havana, La Habana Vieja.
This museum displays several collections of African objects, being the only one in the country. American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue, and Delta have direct flights from the United States to Cuba.
4. Cuajinicuilapa, Mexico
With 2.5 million Afro-descendants, Mexico has the fourth largest Afro-descendant population in Latin America, behind Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia. As we previously reported in January 2022, Cuajinicuilapa, which sits in the Costa Chica region, is one of several regions in Mexico with the highest population of people of African descent, with an estimated 229,661 Afro-Mexicans. Some history and contributions made by those of African descent can be found in the Museo de las Culturas Afromestizas.
5. Cólon, Panama
Located on Panama’s Caribbean Sea, Isla Cólon is the Blackest city in the country. Afro-Panamanians constitute nearly 48% of the community of Isla Cólon. With stunning landscapes, world-class beaches, and beautiful and diverse fauna and flora, the presence of Afro-Panamanians has enriched the history of the country. The influence of the inherited customs of West Africa and the Antilles has definitively marked what Afro-Panamanian culture is, in architecture, gastronomy, music, and in its traditions.
6. Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena is the second most important city on the Colombian Caribbean Coast, with the highest relative representation of Afro-Colombians among the 15 main Colombian cities. With a population of nearly 200,000 African descendants, Cartagena offers vibrant Afro-Colombian tourism with history, culture and gastronomy as well as astonishing landscapes. Major US Airlines provides daily direct flights from the US to Colombia.
7. Cali, Colombia
With nearly 1,100,000 Afro-descendants, Cali is considered the Blackest city in Colombia and the second in Latin America, representing 70% of its total population.
Located in the Valle del Cauca department, southwest of Bogotá. It’s known for salsa dancing. Petronio Alvarez Music Festival is one of Cali’s greatest tourist attractions. It is one of the largest celebrations of Afro Colombian culture and music in the country.
8. Salvador, Brazil
Salvador is the Blackest city in Latin America. Located in the northeast region of Brazil, 8 out of every 10 residents of the city are Black, according to the official census. With a vibrant Afrocentric atmosphere, Salvador attracts travelers from all over the world who fall in love with its culture.
Michael Jackson, Spike Lee, Danny Glover, Beyoncé, Will Smith, and Seal are among the hundreds of celebrities who have visited the city at least once. Salvador is the land of capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian martial art), Candomblé (an Afro-Brazilian religion) and a very rich cuisine inspired by West Africa’s historic gastronomy.