0.34% of the U.S. population 2016
|Regions with significant populations|
|Predominantly in Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach Area, New York, NY, Orlando, FL, Los Angeles, Tampa, FL, and New Jersey. Growing populations in Greater Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Greater Houston.|
|Spanish, American English|
Protestantism, Evangelicalism, Baptism, Judaism
|Related ethnic groups|
|Spaniards, White Colombian, Mestizo, Afro-Colombian, German Colombian, Italian Colombian, Lebanese Colombian, Jewish-Colombian, Demographics of Colombia|
Colombian Americans (Spanish: colombo-americanos, norteamericanos de origen colombiano or estadounidenses de origen colombiano) are Americans who trace their full or partial nationality or heritage to Colombia. They are the largest South American ethnic group in the United States.
The first Colombians immigrants who settled in the United States likely arrived in the 1800s. However, the Colombian presence in United States would not be known with certainty since the federal census did not specify the country of origin for South Americans until 1960. These immigrants did not maintain any relation with their native countries, just until a few generations after, they identify themselves only as Americans.
The first Colombian community formed after World War I, through the arrival of several hundred professionals (nurses, accountants, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, and bilingual secretaries) that established themselves in New York City; later on, more people were added to the community when Colombian students decided to stay in the US after earning their degrees. Most immigrants settled in Jackson Heights, a middle-class neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City, that has good housing, schools and churches. The growth of the Colombian American population was slow until 1940, when there was an increase in Colombian immigration to New York.
Most Colombians who arrived after the mid-1960s wanted to stay in the United States temporarily. Therefore, the number of Colombian illegal immigrants increased: from 250,000 to 350,000 people in the mid 1970s. Despite a succession of immigration laws, the Colombian population in the United States continued to grow. New York remained the most popular destination. Smaller communities formed in Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. and in the 1970s, North Side, Chicago.
Since the 1980s, many Colombians have settled in Miami (especially in its suburbs, such as Doral, Kendall, and Hialeah, and the Weston suburb of Fort Lauderdale). Initially they settled in Little Havana, the largest Cuban neighborhood, many of them engaged in the business of trade between Miami and Latin America. The area also attracted wealthy Colombians, who settled there to get medical care, send their children to school, and escape from social, economic, and political turmoil in Colombia.
By 1987, Colombian Americans were one of the fastest growing Hispanic groups in Miami. By the early 1990s, many Colombian Americans left the metropolitan centers for the suburbs due to crime and the high cost of urban living. This trend was probably started for the first time in the coastal towns of Connecticut and New York. Colombian communities grew significantly in places such as Stamford, Connecticut, Bergenline and Englewood, New Jersey, Jacksonville, Florida (which attracted a growing number of people from Miami), and Skokie, Evanston, Arlington Heights and Park Ridge, Illinois. Despite the migration to other areas, the largest communities remained in New York City, Miami, and their environs.
In 1990 and 1991, 43,891 Colombians were admitted to the United States, more than from any other South American country. They were for the first time the most populous group of illegal immigrants in the US from South America. Between 1992 and 1997, the intensity of the conflict in Colombia increased, so nearly 75,000 Colombians immigrated to the United States in this period, many of them going to California.
Economic problems and violence have led to an emigration of Colombians to the United States, particularly South Florida (especially in the suburbs of Miami, Florida such as Doral, Kendall, and Hialeah, and the Weston suburb of Fort Lauderdale), Central Florida, New Jersey (North Jersey), Queens County in New York City, Philadelphia, the Washington DC metro area, eastern Long Island, and an expanding community in California, Texas and Georgia, mainly in the Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta areas.
After of World War I, many Colombians immigrated to United States in order to complete their education there, studying in the universities of the country. Most of them settled in New York. After the civil war in 1948 and increased poverty in Colombia many Colombians also emigrated to United States during the 1950s. In the 1960s, the economic crisis prompted the emigration of many Colombians to the United States, obtaining U.S. citizenship Between 1960 and 1977.
Since the 1980s, many Colombians American fled their urban cities to migrate to suburban areas in states like New Jersey and Connecticut, as their socioeconomic status improved. The conflict escalation between guerrillas, paramilitaries, and narcos between 1992 and 1997 also boosted the Colombian emigration during this period. As was discussed earlier, about 75,000 Colombians immigrated at that time the United States, concentrating mostly in the state of California.
As of the 2000 Census, 228,400 Colombians were living in the New York metro area and 169,271 Colombians were living in the Miami metropolitan area. The largest Colombian community lives in the South Florida area (Doral, Kendall, Weston, and Hialeah) with a population of 138,768, and Jackson Heights in Queens County, New York city.
In New York City, a large Colombian community thrives and continues to expand in size since the wave of immigration began in the 1970s. Jackson Heights in Queens County was heavily Colombian during the 1980s, but other immigrant groups have settled in the area, notably Ecuadoreans and Mexicans. Many of the displaced Colombians have moved to adjacent areas such as Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona, while wealthier Colombians have gone further afield to College Point and Flushing. Queens County still has the largest concentration of Colombians in the United States of any county (roughly 75,000).
The Top 10 US states with the largest Colombian populations are:
|District of Columbia||1,982||0.3|
The largest populations of Colombians are situated in the following metropolitan areas (Source: Census 2010):
The top 25 U.S. communities with the highest percentage of people claiming Colombian ancestry are:
The top 25 U.S. communities with the most residents born in Colombia are:
Ethnically, Colombians are a diverse population including Colombians of European ancestry (mainly Spanish) ancestry, Afro-Colombians, and Colombians of Indigenous ancestry. However, the majority of Colombians are Castizo and Mestizo (Amerindian/European). In addition, many Colombians of Middle Eastern descent, notably Lebanese Colombians, also compose Colombian society.
Until 1960, most Colombians emigrating to the United States were white or mestizos. However, between this year and 1977, a period in which more than 116,000 Colombians emigrated to the United States, are becoming more ethnically diverse, representing the ethnic diversity of the population of Colombia. So today, although most Colombian Americans are white and mestizos, there are also numerous Afro Colombians in the Colombian American population.
Colombian-Americans, based on various studies and a survey, about 90% of the population adheres to Christianity, the majority of which (70.9%) are Roman Catholic, while a significant minority (16.7%) adhere to Protestantism (primarily Evangelicalism). Some 4.7% of the population is atheist or agnostic, while 3.5% claim to believe in God but do not follow a specific religion. In addition to the above statistics, 35.9% of Colombians report that they did not practice their faith actively.
A majority (64%) of Colombians ages 5 and older speak English proficiently. The other 36% of Colombians report speaking English less than very well, compared with 32% of all Hispanics.
In addition, 83% of Colombians ages 5 and older speak Spanish at home.
The main pastime of Colombians in the United States is soccer, and most Colombian Americans raised in the United States continue to follow soccer. Another popular pastime, especially among the older generation, is parqués, a Colombian board game which is very similar to Parcheesi.
Colombian food is varied due to the several distinct regions of Colombia. Popular dishes include bandeja paisa, sancocho (chicken or fish soup with plantain), empanadas (meat-filled turnovers), pandebono and pan de queso (types of cheese-bread), and arepas (corncake similar to a tortilla). Colombian food is popular and well known in South Florida and in Queens County. Some of the most common ingredients are: cereals such as rice and maize; tubers such as potato and cassava; assorted legumes; meats, including beef, chicken, pork and goat; fish; and seafood.
Among the most representative appetizers and soups are patacones (fried green plantains), sancocho de gallina (chicken soup with root vegetables) and ajiaco (potato and corn soup). Representative snacks and breads are pandebono, arepas (corn cakes), aborrajados (fried sweet plantains with cheese), torta de choclo, empanadas and almojábanas. Representative main courses are bandeja paisa, lechona tolimense, mamona, tamales and fish dishes (such as arroz de lisa), especially in coastal regions where kibbeh, suero, costeño cheese and carimañolas are also eaten. Representative side dishes are papas chorreadas (potatoes with cheese), remolachas rellenas con huevo duro (beets stuffed with hard-boiled egg) and arroz con coco (coconut rice).
Representative desserts are buñuelos, natillas, Maria Luisa cake, bocadillo made of guayaba (guava jelly), cocadas (coconut balls), casquitos de guayaba (candied guava peels), torta de natas, obleas, flan de arequipe, roscón, milhoja, and the tres leches cake (a sponge cake soaked in milk, covered in whipped cream, then served with condensed milk). Typical sauces (salsas) are hogao (tomato and onion sauce) and Colombian-style ají.
Colombian coffee is the world's most popular coffee and is renowned for its high quality and distinct flavor. Though much of the world's quality coffee beans come from Colombia, there are many Colombians that drink instant coffee rather than brewed. It is popularly consumed as a "tinto", meaning black with sugar or panela on the side, or as café con leche, which is a preparation of half coffee and half heated milk.
Aguardiente is popular alcoholic drink derived from sugarcane and flavored with anise. It is widely consumed at Colombian parties, and ranges in potency from 20% to 40%. Aguardiente is a variation of the Spanish alcoholic drink.
Colombia cuisine also features a variety of tropical fruits such as cape gooseberry, feijoa, arazá, dragon fruit, mangostino, granadilla, papaya, guava, mora (blackberry), lulo, soursop and passionfruit. Colombia is one of the world's largest consumers of fruit juices. These juices have made their way to supermarkets all across the United States.
The annual personal income for Colombian-Americans is $25,000, a figure higher than many other Hispanic groups at $21,900, but lower than that of the US population at $30,000.
The rate of Colombian homeownership (45%) but lower than the 64% rate for the U.S. population as a whole. This takes into account the younger average Colombian population.
The Colombians who live in poverty, 16%, is the same as the rate for the general U.S. population and lower than the rate for Hispanics overall at 25%.
33% of Colombians ages 25 and older--compared with 14% of all U.S. Hispanics and 30% among the entire U.S. population--have obtained at least a bachelor's degree.
42% of U.S.-born Colombian-Americans are more likely to have earned a bachelor's degree or higher, as compared to 30% of foreign born Colombians.