The List: What — and Who — Makes New Jersey a State of Many Nations?

Lee Keough | February 8, 2016 | The List
A look at the 10 largest immigrant communities in the Garden State

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Although New Jersey is best known in the minds of many for its suburban homes, good schools, and high taxes, it also offers a multicultural mix of people from around the globe. Indeed, there has been a huge explosion in immigration since 2000, with the arrival of 818,000 newcomers.

That helps explain why New Jersey ranks third among states for per capita foreign-born residents, who total nearly 22 percent of the population. And it ranks first when it comes to diversity. No state, including New York, has as many different cultures living in proximity.

In general, there are about 2 million foreign-born residents in New Jersey. Some 895,321 come from Latin America; 636,648 from Asia; 306,617 from Europe; and 102,735 from Africa.

NJ Spotlight plans to embark on a year-long project looking at immigration in our state, and is raising money through crowdfunding in order to do it right. Meanwhile, here are the largest cohorts of foreign-born residents in New Jersey, according to the 2014 American Community Survey, the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

1. India

There are 233,167 native Indians living in New Jersey. When combined with other residents from South Central Asia (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, among other countries), the total is 283,713. This is one of the fastest-growing populations in the state.

2. Mexico

Border states don’t have a monopoly on Mexican immigrants; 131,130 are estimated to live in New Jersey. When combined with Central Americans, such as El Salvadorans (50,059), Guatemalans (41,054), Hondurans (28,389), and Costa Ricans (15,991), this group makes up one of the largest cohorts in New Jersey (275,854)

3. Dominican Republic

Those born in the Dominican Republic (151,401) make up the largest of the state’s Caribbean immigrants (312,836). Cubans, historically a large New Jersey special-interest group, number 45,634, but that population is shrinking. Other Caribbean nations with a large footprint in New Jersey include Jamaica (45,537) and Haiti (43,5590).

4. The Phillipines

Filipinos number 88,193, making up the bulk of southeastern Asian immigrants to New Jersey. The second-largest group of people from that part of the world are the Vietnamese, who number 18,899.

5. Colombia

South Americans make up the largest group of foreign-born residents in New Jersey, totaling 306,631. Colombia sent the most of any South American country, with 78,983. They are followed by 72,388 Ecuadorans, 63,570 Peruvians, and 30,735 Brazilians.

6. Korea

The northern part of Asia once was the source of a significant number of Japanese immigrants, but that has been shrinking. Meanwhile, the number of Koreans (79,088) coming to New Jersey has risen dramatically.

7. China

Excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan, there are 72,470 Chinese-born immigrants in New Jersey. Including Hong Kong (10,033) and Taiwan (17,168), there are 99,671 New Jerseyans who were born in some part of China.

8. Poland

Eastern Europeans make up 141,900 New Jersey residents. The largest nationality is Polish, with almost 50,000 New Jersey residents. But there are more than another dozen countries that send significant populations to New Jersey, such as Ukraine (20,587) and Russia (20,042).

9. Italy

Southern Europe still represents a significant portion of New Jersey’s foreign born, with 90,220 residents. Italy, with 41,747, is the largest population from this part of the world. But Portugal (28,427), Spain (10,845), and Greece (9,129) all have substantial populations.

10. Egypt

African countries have sent about 102,735 immigrants to New Jersey, Egyptians being the largest group (28,671). Nigerians (15,217) and Ghanaians (13,896) also have large populations.

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