Demographics of California: Wikis


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California Population Density Map.

The Demographics of California is a complex topic, which is undergoing dynamic change. As the most populous of the states, California contains large numbers of people from a wide variety of ethnic, racial, national, and religious backgrounds. The state continues to attract significant numbers of immigrants, and continues to grow dramatically in overall size. Its population is nearly twice that of the next largest state, New York state,[1] which California surpassed to become the most populous state in 1962.[2]

California lacks a majority ethnic group and is considered a minority-majority state, with non-Hispanic whites making up 42.3% of the population.[3] Because there are many national communities and ethnic origins in the state as well, there are over 200 languages known to be spoken and read in California. Spanish is the state's second most spoken language, especially in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and the US-Mexico border counties of (San Diego County and Imperial County. Nearly 43% of California residents speak a language other than English at home, a proportion far higher than any other state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.[4]

Demographers have speculated that California will have a Hispanic majority by the year 2020, due to large-scale immigration and birth rates of Hispanic immigrants increased at a faster rate than non-Hispanic groups.[citation needed]

California is the second most populous state in the Western Hemisphere, exceeded only by São Paulo State. If it were an independent country, California would rank 34th in population in the world, behind Poland.



Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1850 92,597
1860 379,994 310.4%
1870 560,247 47.4%
1880 864,694 54.3%
1890 1,213,398 40.3%
1900 1,485,053 22.4%
1910 2,377,549 60.1%
1920 3,426,861 44.1%
1930 5,677,251 65.7%
1940 6,907,387 21.7%
1950 10,586,223 53.3%
1960 15,717,204 48.5%
1970 19,953,134 27.0%
1980 23,667,902 18.6%
1990 29,760,021 25.7%
2000 33,871,648 13.8%

As of 2006, California has an estimated population of 37,172,015. California is the 13th fastest-growing state. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 1,557,112 people (that is 2,781,539 births minus 1,224,427 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 751,419 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 1,415,879 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 564,100 people, and a decrease of 21,669. More than 12 percent of U.S. citizens live in California.

California has eight of the top 50 US cities in terms of population. Los Angeles is the nation's second largest city with a population of 3,845,541 people, followed by San Diego (9th), San José (10th), San Francisco (12th), Long Beach (34th), Fresno (37th), Sacramento (38th) and Oakland (44th).

The center of population of California is located in Kern County, in the town of Buttonwillow.[5]

Racial and ancestral makeup

According to the 2008 ACS Estimates,[6] California's population is:

California has the largest population of White Americans in the U.S., an estimated 21,810,156 residents. The state has the fifth largest population of African Americans in the U.S., an estimated 2,260,648 residents. California's Asian population is estimated at 4.5 million, approximately one-third of the nation's 14.9 to 15.1 million Asian Americans. California's Native American population of 376,093 (but some estimates place it at one million) is the most of any state.[citation needed]

According to estimates from 2006, California has the largest minority population in the United States, though whites make up 57% of the state population. Non-Hispanic whites decreased from 80% of the state's population in 1970[citation needed] to 43% in 2006.[7] While the population of minorities accounts for 100.7 million of 300 million U.S. residents, 20% of the national total live in California.[8][9]

New Mexico and Texas have higher percentages of Latinos, but California has the highest total number of Latinos of any U.S. state. Only Hawaii has a higher Asian American percentage than California.

The largest named ancestries in California are Mexican (25%), German (9%), Irish (7.7%), English (7.4%) and Filipino (6%), but includes 65 other ethnicities from Albanian to Haitian to Pakistani to Somali. Both Los Angeles and San Francisco have large numbers of French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Scandinavian ancestry.

Demographics of California (csv)
By race White Black AIAN* Asian NHPI*
2000 (total population) 79.75% 7.65% 1.99% 12.39% 0.69%
2000 (Hispanic only) 30.79% 0.61% 0.85% 0.45% 0.13%
2005 (total population) 79.07% 7.45% 1.93% 13.47% 0.71%
2005 (Hispanic only) 33.59% 0.67% 0.84% 0.47% 0.13%
Growth 2000–05 (total population) 5.76% 3.90% 3.58% 16.01% 10.13%
Growth 2000–05 (non-Hispanic only) -0.91% 2.80% 1.87% 16.18% 9.65%
Growth 2000–05 (Hispanic only) 16.36% 16.48% 5.87% 11.68% 12.29%
* AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native; NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

Hispanic/Latino Americans

Hispanics, mainly Mexican Americans, predominate in Southern California, especially in Los Angeles. The city itself is said to be the largest Mexican community in the United STates since 1910[citation needed]. Latinos are the largest ethnic group in Los Angeles County at over 40 percent of the county's population[citation needed]. They also compose a sizable community in Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento, Oakland, San José, Long Beach, Anaheim, Riverside and San Diego. In Santa Ana, they compose 75 percent of the population.

The Imperial Valley on the US-Mexican border has the highest percentage (70-75%) of Hispanic/Latino Americans in the state. Perhaps the highest Hispanic percentage communities are in Riverside County, especially in its eastern end (Coachella Valley).[citation needed] The Central Valleys are highly populated by the historic inflow of Mexican-American farm migrant labor. Latinos are the majority of people in Colusa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Tulare and Yolo counties.

Hispanics make up over 20% of the population in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, such as San Francisco's Mission District and San Mateo, Alameda and Santa Clara counties. The Napa Valley and Salinas Valley have predominantly Hispanic communities established by farm migrant labor economies.[citation needed]

In Mariposa County, there is a very small community of Californios or Spanish-American peoples as they identify themselves, whose ancestry dates back before the U.S. annexation of California in the 1840s. The Californio culture is closely linked with Mexico and other Latin American nations.

Most of the state's Hispanic or Latino Americans are of Mexican origin, but also includes those of Caribbean (Cuban American and Puerto Rican), Central American (i.e. Guatemalan, Honduran, Salvadoran and Nicaraguan) and South American (i.e. Chilean, Colombian and Peruvian) origin.


California has about 40% (or 6.7 million) of the nation's Asian American population[citation needed]. The state has a long history of established Asian communities, including Chinese since the 1850s, Japanese since the 1880s, and Filipinos for over a century. A large wave of Asian immigration which took place since 1965 brought in more Chinese along with Koreans and Southeast Asians. South Asians are a more recent but fast-growing group.

Filipino Americans are particularly numerous in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo and Solano counties, and in communities such as Artesia, Baldwin Park, Carson, Cerritos, Covina, West Covina, and the community of Eagle Rock in Los Angeles. In San Diego, a large concentration of Filipinos can be found in the communities of Mira Mesa, National City, and Chula Vista. Smaller towns of Delano near Bakersfield, the San Joaquin Valley, Coachella Valley-Imperial Valley region, Salinas, Stockton and Lathrop also has large Filipino populations.

Chinese Americans are numerous in San Francisco, East Bay, South Bay, Sacramento, and the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County. The San Francisco Bay Area has a greater concentration of Cantonese-speaking Chinese than anywhere in the USA.[citation needed] Southern California has perhaps the largest Taiwanese American community in the United States particularly in San Gabriel Valley, and in Cerritos, West Covina, Irvine (in Orange County), and some large concentrated Chinese communities in the South Bay, Los Angeles Area.

Over a million people of Korean ancestry live in California. The majority are late 20th century immigrants, although ethnic Koreans were present since 1890. There are large Korean American communities in Koreatown of Los Angeles, the eastern San Gabriel Valley, the San Fernando Valley, Cerritos/Long Beach, South Bay, Los Angeles, and in northern Orange County. There is another large Korean-American population in the San Francisco bay area, while Koreans are growing in number in the suburban Inland Empire region like Chino Hills, Corona and Desert Hot Springs.

The South Bay area and Little Tokyo have a large Japanese American community. However, Japanese Americans are also concentrated in San Francisco and across the Bay area, San Jose, the Salinas Valley, and the Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Sacramento areas. Despite the presence of Japanese goods stores, media outlets and restaurants in the state, most "Little Tokyos" and "Japantowns" were evacuated during the forced relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II (see Japanese American Internment). As a result, most Japanese Americans in urban areas do not reside in historical Japanese communities.

California has the largest American population of Southeast Asians, such as the Hmong and Vietnamese (including ethnic Chinese-Vietnamese). Long Beach has one of the largest Cambodian American communities in the United States. The neighboring cities of Westminster and Garden Grove have the largest Vietnamese American community outside of Vietnam and are often dubbed "Little Saigon". Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants also settled down in the San Francisco Bay area (especially San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale) and across the San Joaquin Valley. Over 6,000 Laotian Americans live in the Fresno area, including an even larger Hmong American community from an indigenous mountain tribe in Southeast Asia, the largest of its kind.

California has the largest Indian American population in America. Most of the Indian Americans reside in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, San Diego and San Francisco Bay Area. The Los Angeles suburbs of Artesia and Cerritos as well the Bay Area city of Fremont have large Indian communities. San Jose and other Silicon Valley cities also have a large number who were employed by high-tech companies. Large Indian populations are in Central Valley cities such as Stockton, Bakersfield, Fresno, Yuba City, and the Imperial Valley. The majority of South Asians came from India, but encompasses those from other South Asian countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Pacific Islanders

The state has 150,000 people of Pacific Islander ancestry. The majority (80,000) are Native Hawaiians of measurable Polynesian ancestry (most are part-Asian, some are part-white or other races) who have been arriving from Hawaii for over a century. Also present are 25,000 Samoan Americans originally from American Samoa or Western Samoa; most of them live in Long Beach and the Los Angeles suburbs of Carson, Artesia/Cerritos and Redondo Beach, also in Oceanside and Upland. About 10,000 Chamorros from Guam and Northern Mariana Islands live in Northern California, the largest Micronesian community in the mainland United States. An estimated 10,000 Tahitians from French Polynesia live in Southern California.[citation needed]

European and Middle Eastern-Americans

California has the largest population of European Americans of any state. In 2000, California also had the largest number of Bulgarian Americans in any U.S. state and also the most Hungarian Americans of any U.S. state. California also has one of the largest numbers of Armenian Americans at 600,000 (especially the large Armenian community in Glendale). Los Angeles and San Francisco have large Russian American populations, and have a long history of small ethnic communities such as Irish (being the largest ancestry group), Italians, Greeks, Germans and Poles, descendants of late 19th century immigration. Included are Scandinavians, French and Welsh (many of whom arrived during the 1848 California Gold Rush), and former Yugoslavian peoples (i.e. Bosnians, Croats and Serbs).

There are an estimated 500,000 Iranian Americans in Southern California including 20% of the population of Beverly Hills.[10] Iranian-American communities also flourish in the San Fernando Valley, Orange County, San Diego, the Palm Springs area and the San Joaquin Valley. The majority immigrated after the ouster of the pro-U.S. Shah regime of Iran in the late 1970s. Over 50,000 Afghan Americans are concentrated in the East Bay communities of Fremont and Hayward; Afghanis also live throughout Alameda County and the state.[citation needed]

The state also has over 500,000 Arab Americans, with large communities in Alameda, Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Orange, San Diego and Stanislaus counties. They represent all Arab and Middle Eastern nationalities, the most numerous being of Palestinian descent, followed by those from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Arabs had resided in California since the 1920's, most notably in Ceres and Turlock of Chaldean and Assyrian descent, as well as the Coachella Valley.[citation needed] San Diego has one of the largest concentrations of Chaldean immigrants in the United States.[11]

Black/African Americans

California has the largest population of African Americans in the western United States, an estimated 2.1 million residents (although the figure may been underestimated). Large African American communities are in Compton, Fairfield, Inglewood, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland (the largest percentage at 30-35 percent of the population), Richmond, Sacramento, San Bernardino, South Gate and Vallejo. Also Bakersfield, Berkeley, Fresno, Modesto, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco and Stockton also have sizable black populations.

African Americans are approximately 7 percent of the state population, with many of them living in suburban communities, especially in the Inland Empire (Riverside-San Bernardino and Palm Springs areas), the High Desert north of Los Angeles (Palmdale and Victorville), and across the San Joaquin Valley (Stockton-Modesto, Sacramento, Fresno and Bakersfield areas).

The state percentage of African-Americans has dropped in the 1990s and 2000s. The black population of South-Central Los Angeles has greatly decreased as the black middle class relocates into the nearby suburbs. Hundreds of thousands of them moved to the American South, where their grandparents may have come from in the "Great Migration" of the mid 20th century.[citation needed]

Native Americans/American Indians

California's Native American population of 376,000 (the 2000 census) is the most of any state. It also has the most Native American tribes (indigenous to the state or not), but the majority of known Californian Indian tribes became extinct in the late 19th century. The US Census includes Latin American Indian, esp. immigrants belonged to indigenous peoples or have Amerindian heritage of North and South America. The majority of Mexican-Americans indicated to possessed some indigenous (Native Californian) heritage.[citation needed] The Mexican consulate in Los Angeles offers documents in 12 indigenous Mexican languages.[citation needed]

The Cherokee Nation is the largest tribe in the state with a population of 110,000, although the number of Cherokee descendants may surpass 600,000 according to demographers. They are often descendants of Dust Bowl refugees in the 1930s–1940s who migrated to the state's farming counties and urban areas for jobs. The largest urban American Indian communities are Los Angeles/Long Beach, San Francisco/Oakland, Sacramento and San Diego areas.[citation needed]

California also has significant populations of the Apache, Choctaw, Creek, Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, Blackfeet, Shoshone, Paiute, Pueblos, Cahuilla and Chumash tribes. The local Cahuilla in the Coachella Valley have profited from real estate land leases and much of the cities of Indio and Palm Springs are actually tribal-owned lands under legal tribal jurisdiction.[citation needed]


As of 2000, 60.5% of California residents age 5 and older speak English at home and 25.8% speak Spanish. Chinese is the third most spoken language at 2.6%, followed by Tagalog at 2.0% and Vietnamese at 1.3%.[12] Over 200 languages are known to be spoken and read in California, with Spanish used as the state's "alternative" language.

The Indigenous languages of California number more than one hundred and show great diversity, making California one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world. All of California's indigenous languages are endangered, although there are now efforts toward language revitalization.[note 1]

Since the passage of Proposition 63 in 1986, the California Constitution has specified that English is the common and official language of the state.[13] The politics of language is a major political issue in the state, especially in regard to language policy controlling the teaching and official use of immigrant languages.


The state has the most Roman Catholics of any state, a large Protestant population, a large American Jewish community, and an American Muslim population. In pure numbers, the state has the most Roman Catholics in the U.S. ahead of New York state, and the largest Mormon population outside of Utah according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[14] The state has a large American Jewish community (the largest in the western US), mainly concentrated in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento and Palm Springs; and a rapidly-growing Islamic population with large Muslim communities in west Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Santa Clara County, and the Modesto area.

A large majority of California's Roman Catholic membership are of Irish, Italian, Mexican/Hispanic and Filipino ancestry. The population of Catholic Californians is rapidly growing due to the influx of Latin American and Filipino immigrants. In the state, Catholicism is higher represented in non-Hispanic whites, but lesser represented in African-Americans/non-Hispanic blacks. Protestantism is the majority Christian denomination in non-Hispanic black and white groups.

The largest Christian denominations by number of adherents in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 10,079,310; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 529,575; and the Southern Baptist Convention with 471,119. Jewish congregations had 994,000 adherents or 3% of the Californian population.[15]

There is a thriving number of new age, cult movements, and Eastern religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintō, Sikhism, and Taoism that symbolize California as a progressive place for theological innovation since the 1960s, while the Eastern religions were partly introduced by Asian immigrants when they settled in the state.

As the twentieth century came to a close, forty percent of all Buddhists in America resided in Southern California. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Area has become unique in the Buddhist world as the only place where representative organizations of every major school of Buddhism can be found in a single urban center.[citation needed] The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Northern California and Hsi Lai Temple in Southern California are two of the largest Buddhist temples in the Western Hemisphere. The state also has a growing Hindu population.[citation needed]

With a Jewish population estimated at more than 550,000, Los Angeles has the second-largest Jewish community in North America.

California also has the largest Muslim community population in the United States, an estimated 3.4 percent of the population, mostly residing in Southern California. According to figures, approximately 100,000 Muslims reside in San Diego.

California has more members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Temples than any state except Utah. Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have played important roles in the settlement of California throughout the state's history. For example, a group of a few hundred Mormon converts from the Northeastern United States and Europe arrived at what would become San Francisco in the 1840s aboard the ship Brooklyn, more than doubling the population of the small town. Before being called back to Utah by Brigham Young these settlers helped build up the city of Yerba Buena. A group of Mormons also established the city of San Bernardino in Southern California in 1851. According to the LDS Church 2007 statistics, just over 750,000 Mormons reside in the state of California, attending almost 1400 congregations statewide.

The religious affiliations of the people of California:[16]

However, a Pew Research Center survey revealed that California is less religious than the rest of America: 62% of Californians say they are "absolutely certain" of the belief in God, while in the nation 71% say so. The survey also revealed 48% of Californians say religion is "very important", while the figure for America is 56%.[16]

See also


  1. ^ The following are a list of the indegenous languages: Root languages of California: Athabaskan Family: Hupa, Mattole, Lassik, Wailaki, Sinkyone, Cahto, Tolowa, Nongatl, Wiyot, Chilula; Hokan Family: Pomo, Shasta, Karok, Chimiriko; Algonquian Family: Whilkut, Yurok; Yukian Family: Wappo; Penutian Family: Modok, Wintu, Nomlaki, Konkow, Maidu, Patwin, Nisenan, Miwok, Coast Miwok, Lake Miwok, Ohlone, Northern Valley Yokuts, Southern Valley Yokuts, Foothill Yokuts; Hokan Family: Esselen, Salinan, Chumash, Ipai, Tipai, Yuma, Halchichoma, Mohave; Uto-Aztecan Family: Mono Paiute, Monache, Owens Valley Paiute, Tubatulabal, Panamint Shoshone, Kawaisu, Kitanemuk, Tataviam, Gabrielino, Juaneno, Luiseno, Cuipeno, Cahuilla, Serrano, Chemehuevi


  1. ^ Statistical Abstract of the United States
  2. ^ "Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown of California". California State Library. November 28, 2005. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  3. ^ Census Bureau Quick Facts 2008
  4. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, September 23, 2008
  5. ^ "Population and Population Centers by State: 2000" (TXT). United States Census 2000. US Census Bureau Geography Division. May 20, 2002. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  6. ^ "California QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau:". US Census Bureau. Retrieved December 26, 2009. 
  7. ^ Bowman, Bobbi (October 11, 2006). "The Best Story of Our Lives". Poynter Online (The Poynter Institute). Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  8. ^ "California - ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates: 2006-2008". American Fact Finder. US Census Bureau. Retrieved December 26, 2009. 
  9. ^ "United States - ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates: 2006-2008". American Fact Finder. US Census Bureau. Retrieved December 26, 2009. 
  10. ^ Montagne, Renee (2006-06-08). "Living in Tehrangeles: L.A.'s Iranian Community". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2006-06-28. 
  11. ^ Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce
  12. ^ "Detailed List of Languages Spoken at Home for the Population 5 Years and Over by State: 2000" (PDF). 2000 United States Census. United States Census Bureau. 2003. Retrieved April 11, 2006. 
  13. ^ California State Constitution, Article III, Section 6, cited at
  14. ^ "USA-California - LDS Newsroom:". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  15. ^ "State Membership Report 2000". The Association of Religious Data Archives. 2002. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b "Religion and Politics 2008: California". U.S. Religious Landscape Study. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. 2008. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 


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