According to the 1990 U.S. Census, ancestry groups show striking differences in where they choose to settle in the United States. These differences often reflect initial settlement patterns, especially for the newer immigrant groups. Of the largest European ancestries, French, Scottish, and Welsh are distributed fairly evenly throughout the country. Other large European groups are more concentrated. For example, more than half of the nation's Italians live in the Northeast, and over half of the Norwegians and Czechs are clustered in the Midwest. About 47% of the Scotch-Irish are concentrated in the South, while 45% of the Danish live in the West.
The regional concentration of persons of Hispanic ancestry depended on their specific country of origin. For instance, the Northeast contained 86% of the country's Dominicans, 66% of Puerto Ricans, and 63% of Ecuadorians. The South was home to 69% of Cubans and 51% of Nicaraguans. About 62% of Salvadorans and Guatemalans and 57% of Mexicans lived in the West.
Persons of West Indian ancestry are concentrated in the Northeast: 59% of the nation's Jamaicans and 55% of Haitians live there.
Among the larger Southwest Asian ancestry groups, over half of the Armenians and Iranians reside in the West, and 43% of the Syrians live in the Northeast.
People of Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry are found largely in the West. The West is home to 87% of the country's Hawaiians, 72% of Japanese, 59% of Cambodians, and 54% of Chinese and Vietnamese.
California—the perennial destination of many migrants—has the largest number of persons of German, Irish, English, African American, Mexican, French, American Indian, Dutch, Scotch-Irish, Scottish, and Swedish ancestry of any state, according to the 1990 Census. New York—the traditional port of entry for large numbers of immigrants—has more Italians and Polish than any other state, and Minnesota ranks first for Norwegians.
About 5% of respondents to the 1990 Census reported their ancestry as “American.” Texas has the largest number of persons who considered this to be their ethnic identity.
Population, by Selected Ancestry Group and Region: 1990
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For more information on race and ethnicity, see U.S. Statistics.