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Most Asians, however, arrived in the 19th and 20th century as contract workers or economic migrants.
Today, the overwhelming majority of Asian Latin Americans are of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean descent.
Some of these sailors never returned to the Philippines, and many of their descendants can be found in small communities around Baja California, Sonora, Mexico City, Peru and others, thus making Filipinos the oldest Asian ethnic group in Latin-America.
Most Chinese-Latin Americans descended from the Coolie slave trade, and most are found in the Caribbean, especially in Cuba, and Peru.
The first Asian Latin Americans were Filipinos who made their way to Latin America (primarily to Cuba and Mexico, and secondarily to Colombia, Panama and Peru) in the 16th century, as sailors, crews, prisoners, slaves, adventurers and soldiers during the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines.