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Maps of American ancestries

Maps of American ancestries

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The ancestry of the people of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

is widely varied and includes descendants of population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

s from around the world
World
World is a common name for the whole of human civilization, specifically human experience, history, or the human condition in general, worldwide, i.e. anywhere on Earth....

, some presumably extinct elsewhere. In addition to its variation, the ancestry of people of the United States is also marked by varying amounts of intermarriage
Interracial marriage
Interracial marriage occurs when two people of differing racial groups marry. This is a form of exogamy and can be seen in the broader context of miscegenation .-Legality of interracial marriage:In the Western world certain jurisdictions have had regulations...

 between ethnic and racial groups.

While some Americans can trace their ancestry back to a single ethnic group or population in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, or Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, these are often first- and second-generation Americans. Generally, the degree of mixed heritage increases the longer one's ancestors have lived in the United States (see melting pot
Melting pot
The melting pot is a metaphor for a heterogeneous society becoming more homogeneous, the different elements "melting together" into a harmonious whole with a common culture...

). In theory, there are several means available to discover the ancestry of the people residing in the United States, including genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

, genetics
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

, oral
Oral history
Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews...

 and written history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, and analysis of Federal Population Census
United States Census
The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution. The population is enumerated every 10 years and the results are used to allocate Congressional seats , electoral votes, and government program funding. The United States Census Bureau The United States Census...

 schedules. In practice, only few of these have been used for a larger part of the population.

Analysis by 2000 Federal Population Census



The majority of the 300 million people currently living in the United States are descended from Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an immigrants who have arrived in the past 400 years. Most Latin American immigrants are from Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 of which about half are descended from indigenous peoples of those regions and Spaniards (mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

). African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 people, most of whom are descended from Africa and the slavery era, form the next-largest ethnic groups. American Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 now form a small minority in the population.

Major components of the European segment of the United States population are descended from immigrants from Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 (19.2%), Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 (10.8%), England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 (7.7%), Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 (5.8%), Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 (5.6%), Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 (3.7%) and Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 (3.2%) with many immigrants also coming from other Slavic countries. Other significant European immigrant populations came from eastern and southern Europe and French Canada; few immigrants came directly from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Since French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

, French-Canadian and Acadian
Acadian
The Acadians are the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled in Acadia . Acadia was a colony of New France...

 ancestries are overlapping, the number of counties with "French" as the main ancestry would also be larger if these three labels are added together.

A large number of Americans (12.9%) are descended from Africans, the majority of whom were brought as slave
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

s as early as the 17th century throughout the 19th century during the Transatlantic slave trade, with smaller numbers having immigrated
Immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants,...

 since then from Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 or the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

. The ancestral national origin of most African Americans has been difficult to trace until recent DNA analyses. Most African nations were named centuries after slaves were imported the Americas, and most slave owners generally did not keep track of the slaves' ethnicity. Therefore the continent of Africa serves as an indicator of geographic origin and a descriptive term. African-Americans who know their ethnic origin are generally from post-slave trade era migration such as Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, who is of Luo Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

n descent and Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon is a retired Nigerian-American professional basketball player. From 1984 to 2002, he played the center position in the National Basketball Association for the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors. He led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In 2008,...

 who is Yoruba
Yoruba people
The Yoruba people are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. The majority of the Yoruba speak the Yoruba language...

 Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

n ancestry.

U.S. Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

 statistics depend entirely on self-reported ancestry. An analysis of census forms in 1980 and 1990 suggests that self-reported ancestry was influenced by the order of choices listed on the form. In 1980, 'English' was near the top of the list and was chosen by 49.6 million people; in 1990 it was less prominent and was chosen by only 32.7m respondents. 'German' and 'Italian' were higher on the list in 1990 than in 1980, and the number choosing them increased by 20 per cent.

Many citizens listed themselves as "American" on the census (7.2%). They are generally assumed to be of predominantly English stock though some are likely to be people of several other different European ethnicities who are unable or unwilling to choose one. Many people who trace their ancestry to the colonial period or the slavery era consider themselves to be of "American" ancestry. It is estimated that 53 percent of White Americans are the descendants of colonial ancestors. In the late 18th century, 85 percent of White Americans were of British Isles ancestry, 9 percent were German, and 3 or 4 percent were of Dutch origin.

The census is based upon questionnaires and have been compiled from answers given by a sample group. Therefore the answers given will reflect what the individual knows about their ancestry. Many U.S. citizens do not know their ancestry entirely; partly for that reason, a large proportion simply call themselves "American" ancestry (not including American Indian
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

s) or know that a part of their ancestry is Irish or at least has an Irish name and will therefore say 'Irish' as their ancestry, when in fact most of their ancestry is English.

An analysis of Census information and immigration records would suggest that 62 percent of White Americans today are of British Isles descent, and a total of 86 percent are of Northwestern European origins. Approximately 14 percent of U.S. whites are of southern and eastern European ancestry.

The only way to get a true picture of what the U.S. ancestry is would be to do several hundred thousand genetic background analyses, which at the moment would be particularly expensive. Based upon last names however, the top 100 last names in the U.S are mostly of British or Irish background — the top 5 being Smith
Smith (surname)
Smith is an English family name originating in England. It is the most common surname in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, the second most common surname in Canada, and the fifth most common surname in Ireland...

, Johnson
Johnson
Johnson is an English, Scottish, and Irish name of Norman origin. The name itself is a patronym of the given name John, literally meaning "son of John." The name John derives from Latin Johannes, which is derived through Greek Ἰωάννης Iōannēs, from Hebrew יוחנן Yohanan meaning "Yahweh has favoured"...

, Williams
Williams (surname)
Williams is a patronymic form of the name William that originated in medieval England and later came to be extremely popular in Wales. The meaning is derived from son or descendant of Guillemin, the French form of William. Derived from an Old French given name with Germanic elements; will =...

, Jones
Jones (surname)
Jones is a common Celtic Welsh surname based on the English version of the parent's name ending in -S. In 1881 people with this surname were largely confined to Wales. By 1998 many Welsh people had migrated to cities in England particularly those adjacent to Wales. The earliest record of the name...

 and Brown
Brown (surname)
Brown is a surname of English and Scottish origin. It also originates independently in the United States, as an Anglicization of several other surnames, such as the German Braun. Among the earliest recorded Browns is John Brown of Stamford, Lincolnshire, England in 1312. Brown is one of the most...

. Most African Americans have English or Irish surnames, which were assigned to
Slave name
A slave name is a name given to a person who is or has been enslaved or a name inherited from enslaved ancestors. Modern use of the term applies mostly to African-Americans and West Indians who are descended from slaves, and are thereby capable of having a "slave name".-Ancient Rome:In Rome, slaves...

 their ancestors during slavery, or adopted by them as freedmen, or else inherited through miscegenation
Miscegenation
Miscegenation is the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, and procreation....

 between blacks and whites.

Some common German last names, for example Braun, Schmidt and Müller, have been anglicized into Brown, Smith and Miller. The common Swedish last name Johansson, as well as the Norwegian/Danish names Johansen and Jensen, have also often been anglicized into Johnson. To add further weight, a World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 ethnic background of the U.S. put the top four backgrounds as 36 million British
British American
British Americans are citizens of the United States whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in the United Kingdom . The term is seldom used by people to refer to themselves and is used primarily as a demographic or historical research term...

 (English
English American
English Americans are citizens or residents of the United States whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in England....

, Scottish
Scottish American
Scottish Americans or Scots Americans are citizens of the United States whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in Scotland. Scottish Americans are closely related to Scots-Irish Americans, descendants of Ulster Scots, and communities emphasize and celebrate a common heritage...

, Welsh
Welsh American
Welsh Americans are citizens of the United States whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in Wales. In the 2008 U.S. Census community survey, an estimated 1.98 million Americans had Welsh ancestry, 0.6% of the total U.S. population. This compares with a population of 3 million in Wales. However,...

, Cornish
Cornish American
Cornish Americans are citizens of the United States who describe themselves as having Cornish ancestry. Cornish ancestry is not recognised on the United States Census, although the Cornish people are recognised as a separate ethnic group and national identity for the United Kingdom Census...

), 32 million German
German American
German Americans are citizens of the United States of German ancestry and comprise about 51 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population, the country's largest self-reported ancestral group...

, 29 million Irish
Irish American
Irish Americans are citizens of the United States who can trace their ancestry to Ireland. A total of 36,278,332 Americans—estimated at 11.9% of the total population—reported Irish ancestry in the 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau...

, 12 million Italian
Italian American
An Italian American , is an American of Italian ancestry. The designation may also refer to someone possessing Italian and American dual citizenship...

 and 10 million Polish.

Of these four ethnic backgrounds, none committed any significant (and certainly not significant enough) immigration to the US
Immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants,...

 to make up the difference, as a percentage, between the 2000 census
United States Census, 2000
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 persons enumerated during the 1990 Census...

 and wartime statistics. These are obviously somewhat different from the latest census data. Which is more accurate, for the time in question, is in some debate. Some of the people currently from the countries which Americans descend from may not regard some Americans as anything but "Americans".

It should also be noted that persons of Jewish ancestry are not counted as such in the United States Census. This may be due to a lack of consistency in how criteria of ethnicity are applied. A person who identifies with Arab ancestry may also have the choice of identifying as of Lebanese ancestry. A person of Jewish ancestry whose family came from the Tsarist pale of Jewish settlement
Pale of Settlement
The Pale of Settlement was the term given to a region of Imperial Russia, in which permanent residency by Jews was allowed, and beyond which Jewish permanent residency was generally prohibited...

 may not have his Jewish ancestry recorded in the U.S. Census. One reason may be that "Jewish" may be taken to suggest religious beliefs, which have never been officially recorded in the United States Census.

Major ancestries


These images display frequencies of self-reported ancestries, as of the 2000 U.S. Census
United States Census, 2000
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 persons enumerated during the 1990 Census...

. Regional African ancestries are not listed, though an African American map has been added from another source.


European American ancestries


These images display frequencies of self-reported European American
European American
A European American is a citizen or resident of the United States who has origins in any of the original peoples of Europe...

 ancestries as of the 2000 U.S. Census
United States Census, 2000
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 persons enumerated during the 1990 Census...

.


Additional maps


For additional county-level U.S. maps on a wide range of ethnic and nationality groups, visit the Map Gallery of Ethnic Groups in the United States, part of the course materials for American Ethnic Geography at Valparaiso University
Valparaiso University
Valparaiso University, known colloquially as Valpo, is a regionally accredited private university located in the city of Valparaiso in the U.S. state of Indiana. Founded in 1859, it consists of five undergraduate colleges, a graduate school, a nursing school and a law school...

.

See also


  • United States
  • Demography of the United States
  • Racial and ethnic demographics of the United States
  • Race in the United States
    Race in the United States
    The United States is a racially diverse country. Modern issues of "race", as well as its impact in the political and economic development of the nation, have been examined by numerous historians and researchers across a variety of academic disciplines....

  • Race and ethnicity in the United States Census
  • Language Spoken at Home (U.S. Census)
    Language Spoken at Home (U.S. Census)
    Language Spoken at Home is a data set published by the United States Census Bureau on languages in the United States. In 2000 and 1990, it was a part of Summary File 3, collected from the long-form questionnaire which was distributed to 1 out of 6 households...