Despite its distance from Greece, Latin America hosts the Greeks of the Diaspora who find the warm, family-oriented Latin American culture very familiar. The Greek community is particularly large in Chile, where about 120,000 people of Greek descent live, as reported by etsimagazin.com.
The historical community of the Greeks of Chile has been in the country since the 16th century after the Greeks from the island of Crete immigrated to Chile. However, the vast majority of Greeks in the country arrived there in the early twentieth century, mainly those involved in sailing and shipping.
There is also a small but thriving Greek community in Panama, the bridge between Central and South America. Due to the Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, shipping and sailing are a deeply rooted tradition of the country.
The vast majority of the 1,000 Panamanians of Greek descent either arrived in the country to build the canal or are descendants of those who worked on the impressive waterway. Since their arrival in the country, Greeks have become an integral part of the country, building ties with other communities, founding Greek Orthodox churches and building the only Greek school in Latin America.
Greeks have reached even the highest offices in the country. Demetrio Basilio Lakas Bahas, the country’s 27th president, was the son of Greek immigrants.
An even smaller but prominent group of Greeks lives in neighboring Colombia, especially in the capital city of Bogotá. It is estimated that 150 Greeks living there have kept alive their connection to Greece by opening successful restaurants and businesses.