Ethnic Concentrations in the United States

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

Ancestry
group
Total Percent distribution by region
North-
east
Mid-
west
SouthWest
Europe:
Austrian865,00038%21%19%22%
British1,119,00017183926
Croatian544,00021432016
Czech1,296,00010522216
Danish1,635,0009341245
Dutch6,227,00016342921
English32,652,00018223525
European467,00014173139
Finnish659,00014471127
French10,321,00026262920
German57,947,00017392519
Greek1,110,00037232119
Hungarian1,582,00036321716
Irish38,736,00024253317
Italian14,665,00051171715
Lithuanian812,00043281613
Norwegian3,869,0006521033
Polish9,366,00037371511
Portuguese1,153,000493841
Russian2,953,00044161822
Scandinavian679,0008331545
Scotch-Irish5,618,00014194720
Scottish5,394,00020213326
Slovak1,883,00040341411
Swedish4,681,00014401432
Swiss1,045,00016361730
Ukrainian741,00051221413
Welsh2,034,00022%24%27%27%
Yugoslavian258,00023281237
Central and South America and Spain:
Cuban 860,000183699
Dominican506,000861102
Hispanic1,113,0001363150
Mexican11,587,000193357
Puerto Rican 1,955,0006611158
Salvadoran499,0001322362
Spanish2,024,0001683045
West Indies:
Jamaican435,000595316
Asia:
Asian Indian570,00032192624
Chinese1,505,0002581255
Filipino1,451,0001091368
Japanese1,005,000981172
Korean837,00022142044
Vietnamese536,000982854
North America:
Acadian/Cajun668,00012915
African American23,777,00015215410
American Indian8,708,0009224723
American12,396,00010186111
Canadian550,00034182128
French Canadian2,167,00045202015
United States 644,00016185313
White1,800,0007135328
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1990.
(As of April 1. Covers persons who reported single and multiple ancestry groups. Persons who reported multiple ancestry groups may be included in more than one category. Major classifications of ancestry groups do not represent strict geographic or cultural definitions.)
For more information on race and ethnicity, see U.S. Statistics.

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