Who Came to America, and When?
The United States has a long-standing history of being a “nation of immigrants”, and today the country is home to roughly 46.6 million residents that were born outside of the country.
Here are three maps and data visualizations that give us some history of who came to America, and when it all happened.
200 Years of Immigration
To begin, this video from Metrocosm shows immigration to the U.S. starting from 1820. Each dot represents 10,000 people.
At first, immigration is coming almost exclusively from Europe.
But by around 1900, immigration from Russia, China, Canada, Turkey and Japan picks up – but then WWII devastates global mobility, and immigration to the U.S. grinds to a halt.
After WWII, it is the Cold War era, but the rate of arrivals slowly picks up again. Immigration eventually peaks between 1990-2000 after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Asian and Mexican immigration is also particularly strong around this time.
Here’s another look – this time, it’s a data visualization from Insightful Interaction using data from the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics from 1820 to 2015.
Similar peaks in immigration near 1900 and 2000 can be seen. The dip from WWII is even more pronounced when visualizing the data this way.
The boom in newcomers from Mexico is also evident in the 1990s, though it has tapered off significantly in recent years.
Made in America
Over time, more people start feeling like their roots are tied to America, rather than having ancestry from somewhere else.
This final visualization from Overflow Data that shows the percentage of people in each state that claim to have American ancestry:
People in the country’s heartland and southern states are more likely to identify as having American ancestry, while folks along the coasts and northern states tend to see themselves as having ancestry from other parts of the world.
The highest rates of self-identification happen in Kentucky (17.6%), Tennessee (16.0%), and Alabama (16.4%). The lowest can be found in Hawaii (1.5%), D.C. (2.0%), and California (3.1%).