Special Report

The Most Unusual Ancestry in Each State

46. Virginia
> Location quotient of ancestry:
12.7
> Most unique ancestry: Bolivian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Bolivian: 0.4%
> Share of U.S. Bolivian population living in state: 32.9%

About 92,200 U.S. citizens identify as Bolivian, and roughly 30,400 of them — close to one-third — live in Virginia. This is the largest share of Bolivian Americans in any U.S. state. However, this share may be larger, as many Bolivians are undocumented. Many Bolivians came to America through Miami, Florida both seeking opportunity and fleeing their home country’s poor economic conditions. Bolivians have settled heavily along the East Coast, and today Rhode Island, Maryland, Florida, and New Jersey also have high concentrations of residents with Bolivian heritage.

47. Washington
> Location quotient of ancestry:
10.7
> Most unique ancestry: Moldavian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Moldavian: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Moldavian population living in state: 23.6%

While just 0.1% of Washington residents identify as Moldavian, they constitute about one-fourth of the roughly 18,900 Americans who identify similarly, making it the most unique heritage in the state. Moldovan emigration is a relatively recent phenomenon as it was only permitted once the country gained independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Washington has the largest Moldavian population of any state, more than double that of California or New York. The state is also home to relatively high concentrations of residents identifying as Marshallese, Chamorro, and Eritrean.

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48. West Virginia
> Location quotient of ancestry:
6.0
> Most unique ancestry: Indian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Indian: 1.9%
> Share of U.S. Indian population living in state: 2.9%

Of the roughly 846,200 Americans who identify as Indian, about 24,800 of them live in West Virginia. Although this is just 1.9% of the West Virginian population, it is 2.9% of the national population of those with Indian ancestry. Indians began immigrating to America as early as 1820, but the bulk of migrants came after immigration quotas were lifted by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Many Indians came even more recently, as the majority of Indian Americans were born in India. Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma also high concentrations of residents who identify as Indian.

49. Wisconsin
> Location quotient of ancestry:
9.7
> Most unique ancestry: Hmong
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Hmong: 0.8%
> Share of U.S. Hmong population living in state: 18.0%

Some 224,100 U.S. residents identify as Hmong — just 0.1% of the country’s population — and 40,259 of them live in Wisconsin. As compensation for the Hmong cooperation with the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, the federal government granted the Hmong asylum in America when the conflict ended. Their settlement patterns were largely dictated by federal policy, and in 1975 the first Hmong came to Wisconsin. Other states with high concentrations of Hmong residents today are Minnesota, Wisconsin, and California.

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50. Wyoming
> Location quotient of ancestry:
4.7
> Most unique ancestry: Finnish
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Finnish: 0.7%
> Share of U.S. Finnish population living in state: 0.8%

More than one in five Wyoming residents have German ancestry. Wyoming is also home to disproportionately high shares of Americans who trace their ancestry back to Nordic countries. There are roughly three times the number of Danes and Norwegians per capita in the state relative to the nation as a whole. The most uniquely concentrated ancestry in the state, however, is the Finnish ancestry, with a location quotient of 4.7 in the state.