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Chinatown can be defined as a district of any non-Asian town, in which the population is predominantly of Asian origin. Areas known as "Chinatown" exist throughout the whole world.
The development of most Chinatowns typically resulted from mass migration by Chinese people to other parts of the world that was accelerated by the signing of the Treaty of Peking (1860), which opened China's borders to free movement.
The first Chinese immigrants emerged in the 1830s in Liverpool, England, when the first direct trading vessel from China arrived in Liverpool's docks. The Chinatown in San Francisco is one of the largest in North America. The initial Chinatowns were built in the states such as California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Colorado and Arizona. In Australia, the Victorian gold rush (started 1851), attracted Chinese immigrants from the Guangdong area. Chinatowns in Paris and London, were established at the turn of the 20th century.
Many existing Chinatowns have become pan-Asian business districts and residential neighborhoods. The New York metropolitan area, is home for the largest Chinese population outside of China, including at least 12 Chinatowns, including nine in New York City proper alone. Several urban Chinatowns exist in major European capital cities.