Special Report

The Most Unusual Ancestry in Each State

26. Montana
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Norwegian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Norwegian: 8.0%
> Share of U.S. Norwegian population living in state: 2.3%

There are around 3 million U.S. residents who identify as Norwegian. Of this group, nearly 70,000 live in Montana, making up 8% of the state’s population — 7.4 times greater than the national concentration of Norwegian Americans. North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin also have especially high concentrations of Americans with Norwegian ancestry. Together, these states account over one third of the nation’s population with Norwegian heritage. Norway’s ties to the midwest stem from religious persecution and economic concerns in 19th century Norway — between 1825 and 1925 roughly two-thirds of Norway’s population immigrated to North America.

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27. Nebraska
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Sudanese
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Sudanese: 0.2%
> Share of U.S. Sudanese population living in state: 9.1%

Although just 0.2% of Nebraska residents identify as Sudanese, it is the most unique heritage in the state. Of the 38,516 American citizens who identify as Sudanese, 3,516 — the second largest Sudanese population in the country — reside in Nebraska. Sudanese refugees began to emigrate to Nebraska in the 1990s because of turmoil in the Darfur region of Sudan, and continued to relocate there as the conflict escalated. Sudanese also settled in Nebraska’s neighbor, Iowa. Nebraska also has relatively high concentrations of residents with Bohemian, Czech (and Czechoslovakian), and Nepali heritages.

28. Nevada
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Basque
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Basque: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Basque population living in state: 4.9%

Only 44,626 residents nationwide identify as Basque, or 0.02% of the U.S. population. Of those, 4.9% reside in Nevada, making Basque the most unique heritage in the state. The first Basque immigrants arrived in Nevada in the mid-19th century as prospectors in the gold rush and eventually settled in the northern part of the state as sheepherders. Today, many Basques operate hotels originally used to house winter herders throughout the region. There are high concentrations of Basques throughout much of the western U.S., particularly in Arizona, California, Oregon, and Idaho. Nevada is also home to relatively high concentrations of residents with Bulgarian, Chamorro, and Samoan ancestry.

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29. New Hampshire
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: French Canadian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as French Canadian: 7.3%
> Share of U.S. French Canadian population living in state: 5.7%

Together with Maine and Vermont, New Hampshire is part of a U.S. region that has a high concentration of residents who identify as French-Canadian. The tri-state region is home to New England French, a dialect of the French language unique to the United States. Just 0.6% of the U.S. population identifies as French Canadian — about 1.5 million citizens — and 5.7% of them live in New Hampshire, making French Canadian the most unique heritage in the state. There was a major wave of French-Canadian immigration in the 19th century, when many migrated from Quebec to work in factories in Manchester. By the turn of century, about 60% of textile workers in the state were French-Canadian.

30. New Jersey
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Uruguayan
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Uruguayan: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Uruguayan population living in state: 22.4%

Very few New Jersey residents claim Uruguayan ancestry. However, while the 7,870 residents with Uruguayan heritage make up just 0.1% of the state’s population, this was more concentrated relative to the national proportion than any other ethnic group in New Jersey. More than 22% of all Americans claiming Uruguayan heritage live in New Jersey. Uruguayan immigration to the United States peaked in the 1960s and 1970s during an economic downturn in Uruguay. From the early 1970s through 1985, the Uruguayan constitution was suspended for a period of oppressive military rule, which also contributed to the immigration. New York City and Long Island were also popular destinations for Uruguayan immigrants.