Special Report

The Most Unusual Ancestry in Every State

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

Alabama
> Most unusual ancestry: American
> Concentration in Alabama of residents with American ancestry: 2.6 times higher than share of U.S. population
> Share of Alabama residents identifying as having American ancestry: 16.36% (Total: 796,096)
> Share of US pop. identifying as having American ancestry: 6.40% (total: 20,678,613)
> Share of all US residents identifying as having American ancestry living in Alabama: 3.85%

The concentration of those identifying as having American ancestry in Alabama is 2.6 times the concentration of American ancestry in the U.S. population. Many people who identify as American are at least fourth generation Americans, whose grandparents or great-grandparents were born in the United States. Many are also white Americans living in Southern states.

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Alaska
> Most unusual ancestry: Sudanese
> Concentration in Alaska of residents with Sudanese ancestry: 7.1 times higher than share of U.S. population
> Share of Alaska residents identifying as having Sudanese ancestry: 0.12% (Total: 920)
> Share of US pop. identifying as having Sudanese ancestry: 0.02% (total: 56,988)
> Share of all US residents identifying as having Sudanese ancestry living in Alaska: 1.61%

Immigrants from the African nation of Sudan are the most unique ancestry in Alaska, with a concentration in the nation’s largest state more than seven times the concentration in the U.S. population.

Alaska’s Bureau of Land Management has hosted events such as an explorer camp to help newly arrived refugees and immigrants adjust to their new home.

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Arizona
> Most unusual ancestry: Iraqi
> Concentration in Arizona of residents with Iraqi ancestry: 2.4 times higher than share of U.S. population
> Share of Arizona residents identifying as having Iraqi ancestry: 0.11% (Total: 7,664)
> Share of US pop. identifying as having Iraqi ancestry: 0.05% (total: 145,539)
> Share of all US residents identifying as having Iraqi ancestry living in Arizona: 5.27%

Arizona took in 3,858 refugees in 2015, the fifth most of any state after Florida, Texas, California, or New York. Some 717 of these refugees were from Iraq, the most of any country. The concentration in Arizona of residents with Iraqi ancestry is 2.4 times higher than the concentration in the U.S. population, and is the second highest of any state. Today, 0.1% of Arizona residents identify as having Iraqi ancestry.

On June 22, President Donald Trump, citing the pandemic and high unemployment, announced new limits on visas that allow immigrants to temporarily work in the United States, marking the latest effort to limit the entry of immigrants — among them those from Iraq — to the U.S.

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Arkansas
> Most unusual ancestry: Dutch West Indian
> Concentration in Arkansas of residents with Dutch West Indian ancestry: 5.2 times higher than share of U.S. population
> Share of Arkansas residents identifying as having Dutch West Indian ancestry: 0.07% (Total: 2,005)
> Share of US pop. identifying as having Dutch West Indian ancestry: 0.01% (total: 41,368)
> Share of all US residents identifying as having Dutch West Indian ancestry living in Arkansas: 4.85%

Dutch West Indian Americans are descendants of the Netherlands Antilles, a former country that consisted of a series of islands in the Caribbean under Dutch rule for approximately four centuries.

A total of 2,005 Arkansas residents identify as Dutch West Indian, and the 0.07% share of respondents claiming Dutch West Indian ancestry in Arkansas is more than five times the 0.01% national share, the highest concentration relative to the nation of any ancestry in the state.

Source: Art Wager / Getty Images

California
> Most unusual ancestry: Armenian
> Concentration in California of residents with Armenian ancestry: 4.5 times higher than share of U.S. population
> Share of California residents identifying as having Armenian ancestry: 0.65% (Total: 252,679)
> Share of US pop. identifying as having Armenian ancestry: 0.14% (total: 462,137)
> Share of all US residents identifying as having Armenian ancestry living in California: 54.68%

Some 252,679 ACS respondents in California identify as Armenian, the most of any state and 54.7% of the total U.S. Armenian population.

The first Armenians settled in California in 1874, just 24 years after the state joined the Union. The area is notable for its large agricultural output and ethnic diversity among its farmers. More Armenians migrated to the area in the 1920s, following the 1915 Armenian Genocide. California’s large Armenian population was able to help some refugees of the genocide receive reparations.