Special Report

The Most Unusual Ancestry in Each State

31. New Mexico
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Spanish
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Spanish: 10.8%
> Share of U.S. Spanish population living in state: 8.0%

Unlike the most unique heritages of many states, those with Spanish ancestry in New Mexico are indigenous to the state, having settled in the region before it was annexed by the United States. The Spanish first colonized the area in the 16th century, after conquistadors declared the land habitable. Mexico ceded the land to the United States in the mid-19th century, and as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, area residents received American citizenship and were assured civil rights to preserve Spanish culture. Today, more than one in 10 New Mexico residents identify as Spanish and make up 8% of the total U.S. Spanish population. Neighboring states, such as Arizona, Colorado, and Texas also have high concentrations of residents with Spanish ancestry.

32. New York
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Grenadian
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Grenadian: 0.1%
> Share of U.S. Grenadian population living in state: 70.2%

New York City, where close to half of New York state residents live, is one of the most diverse regions in the country. Over the last several centuries, the city has been a major destination for immigrants seeking economic opportunities in the United States. New York residents who identify as Italian are the largest group, making up 12.1% of survey respondents. However, residents of Caribbean origin — Grenada in particular — are the most concentrated compared to the nation.

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33. North Carolina
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Ugandan
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Ugandan: 0.0%
> Share of U.S. Ugandan population living in state: 20.9%

More than one in five residents nationwide who identify as Ugandan lives in North Carolina. Although this amounts to just 2,674 residents with Ugandan heritage and 0.03% of North Carolina’s population, it is the largest share of residents with Ugandan ancestry of any state and the most unique heritage in North Carolina. There was a significant wave of Ugandan immigration in the 1970s, when many came to the United States as refugees during Idi Amin’s military regime. North Carolina is also home to high concentrations of residents tracing their lineage to other African nations such as Sierra Leone and Senegal.

34. North Dakota
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Icelander
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Icelander: 0.4%
> Share of U.S. Icelander population living in state: 8.3%

While just 0.4% of North Dakota residents identify as Icelanders, they make up 2,594 of the 31,160 Americans who do nationwide. A significant wave of Icelanders came to North America between 1870 and 1900, settling in Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Canada. Today, other states with relatively high concentrations of residents with Icelandic ancestry are Utah, Oregon, Washington, and California. North Dakota is also home to relatively high concentrations of residents with German and Norwegian ancestry.

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35. Ohio
> Location quotient of ancestry:
> Most unique ancestry: Slovene
> Percentage of state residents identifying as Slovene: 0.4%
> Share of U.S. Slovene population living in state: 32.5%

Nearly one-third of all Slovene Americans live in Ohio. The majority of Slovene immigrants came to America between 1870 and 1924 and settled across the country in industrial urban centers and rural farming towns. Cleveland was the most popular destination for Slovene settlers and had the largest Slovene population in the United States from 1900 to the 1990s. Today, many states with high concentrations of Slovene Americans are those where the first immigrants settled, such as Pennsylvania and Illinois. Ohio is also home to relatively high concentrations of residents with Appalachian and Slovak heritages.