Special Report

The Most Unusual Ancestry in Each State

11. Hawaii
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Okinawan
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Okinawan: 0.6%
> Share of U.S. Okinawan population living in state: 60.7%

The U.S. Okinawan population, totalling just 13,184 individuals, is very small. Okinawans are native to a small island prefecture of Japan in the East China Sea — close to a 14-hour plane ride from Hawaii. While the group is the most concentrated compared with other ethnicities in Hawaii, Okinawans make up a relatively small share, less than 1%, of the state’s population. Still, nearly 61% of all Okinawans living in the United States reside in Hawaii.

12. Idaho
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Basque
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Basque: 0.6%
> Share of U.S. Basque population living in state: 16.7%

People claiming Basque heritage trace their roots to northern Spain and southern France, to regions around the Bay of Biscay and along the Pyrenees Mountains. The Basque people trace their roots as far back as 5,500 years ago to regions in northern Spain and southern France around the Bay of Biscay and along the Pyrenees Mountains. Today, roughly 44,600 American claim Basque ancestry. Of all the Americans with Basque ancestry, 16.7% live in Idaho, making Basque the most unique ancestral group in the state. All other states with relatively high concentrations of residents with Basque ancestry, including Arizona, California, and Oregon, are clustered in the western United States.

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13. Illinois
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Assyrian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Assyrian: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Assyrian population living in state: 27.8%

Although just 0.1% of Illinois residents identify as Assyrian, it is 10 times the 0.01% of Americans who do, making Assyrian the most unique heritage in the state. America is home to just 38,626 Assyrians, and 27.8% of them live in Illinois. Assyrian immigrants came to the United States in two large waves — the first concurrent with start of World War I and the second with turmoil in the Middle East during the 1970s. Assyrian refugees relocated mostly to Chicago, Detroit, and Northern California, where some Assyrian American settlers and sojourners had established communities before WWI. Today, Chicago is home to the largest Assyrian population in the country, and the second largest in the world after Iraq. Illinois is also home to high relative concentrations of residents with Luxemburger, Palestinian, and Jordanian ancestry.

14. Indiana
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Macedonian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Macedonian: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Macedonian population living in state: 11.3%

The most common origin of ancestry in Indiana is German — which accounts for 22.2% of the state’s population, about double the U.S. share of Germans out of the total population. However, German is not the most uniquely concentrated heritage group in the Hoosier State. Rather, that title goes to those of Macedonian descent. Macedonia, which is located just north of Greece, has a population of only about 2 million people, and Americans who claim Macedonian ancestry also make up a very small share of the U.S. population — barely 0.01%. However, in Indiana, there are nearly six times as many ethnic Macedonians per capita as there are nationwide.

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15. Iowa
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Sudanese
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Sudanese: 0.3%
> Share of U.S. Sudanese population living in state: 17.4%

Although just 0.3% of Iowa residents identify as Sudanese, the state has the largest Sudanese population in the country. Of the 38,516 American citizens who identify as Sudanese, 6,698 live in Iowa. Sudanese refugees began to emigrate to Iowa in the 1990s because of the turmoil in the Darfur region of Sudan, and they continued to relocate there as the conflict escalated. Sudanese refugees have also emigrated to Iowa’s neighbors, Illinois and Nebraska. Iowa is also home to high concentrations of residents with Luxemburger, Bosnian and Herzegovinian, and Bohemian heritages.

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