The first Russians living on U.S. territory did not have to travel at all. They were the people who lived in Alaska at the time it was sold to the United States in 1867. The first actual wave of Russian immigrants came in the early 20th century when over 30,000 people moved to the U.S. during Russia’s regime change from a tsarist empire to the communist Soviet Union.
A new wave of immigrants from Russia is underway, and it started before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In fact, there are more Russians seeking asylum in the United States now than at any other time in recorded history. Since Oct. 1, 2021, 6,420 have applied, compared to 4,100 in the 12 months before that. (This is how many refugees the U.S. has accepted every year since 1980.)
To determine the number of Russian-born people in every state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed 2020 five-year population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
In 1910, only about 65,000 Russians lived in the U.S. Today, they number nearly 400,000, according to the 2020 Census, and Russian is one of the 10 most common non-English languages spoken in the U.S. (As of 2019, there were also at least 800,000 non-Russian immigrants from various republics of the Soviet Union, including Ukraine, in America, according to figures tabulated by the Migration Policy Institute. These are all the former Soviet republics and what they’re called today.)
New York and California are home to the most Russian-born immigrants, though Wyoming has the most as a percentage of the foreign-born state population. Wyoming and Russia have shared interests in oil, gas, and uranium, and there are substantial Russian-speaking communities in Casper, Cheyenne, and Gillette.
Click here to see how many Russian-born people live in every state
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