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Community and family have always been important to the Chinese. When single men left for foreign countries, they left the support of their families, friends, villages, and the familiarity of their own culture. As a result, Chinese men abroad banded together, living in tightly knit communities often referred to as Chinatowns.

The men considered their fellow inhabitants of Chinatown as a substitute family while away from home. Chinatowns offered clean lodgings, familiar food, and community support. Vancouver still thrives as British Columbia's largest Chinatown.

In part, Chinese people lived in Chinatowns because they felt safer there and less likely to be harassed. Vancouver, for example, passed a number of laws targeting Chinese and discouraging them from moving out of its Chinatown.

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