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Ethnic Groups
Irish

Irish

Historically the region’s largest ethnic group, the Irish have been coming to Boston since the early 19th century. They have arguably transformed and left their mark on the city like no other.

Canadians

Canadians

With its proximity to both Quebec and the Maritime provinces, Massachusetts attracted more Canadian immigrants than any other state, with many coming to the Boston area.

Jews

Jews

Jews from central and eastern Europe and Russia have come to Boston in multiple waves since the 1840s. Religion has helped shape both their economic and cultural life in the region.

Italians

Italians

Since the 1880s, Italians have been flocking to Boston, settling in both the city and surrounding communities. They were one of the largest ethnic groups of the second wave migration.

Portuguese

Portuguese

Coming mainly from the Azores, Portuguese immigrants have been settling in Massachusetts since the mid-19th century. They now constitute some of the largest Portuguese communities  in the United States.

Chinese

Chinese

Dating back to the 1870s, Boston’s Chinatown was one of the largest in the country. Despite later exclusion, immigration rebounded after World War II, making the Chinese the largest foreign-born group in the region.

Armenians

Armenians

Fleeing ethnic and religious persecution in Ottoman Turkey, Armenians have been coming to greater Boston in large numbers since the 1890s. Watertown, especially, has become a center of Armenian-American life and heritage.

Syrians, Lebanese and Other Arab Americans

Syrians, Lebanese and Other Arab Americans

Since the 1880s, Boston has been a popular destination for Christians from Syria and Lebanon. More recently, Arab newcomers have been predominantly Muslim and come from countries across the Middle East and North Africa.

Haitians

Haitians

One of the oldest “new” immigrant groups, Haitians have been coming to Boston since the 1950s. Since then, the metro region has become one of the top three sites of Haitian settlement in the US.

Vietnamese

Vietnamese

Vietnamese refugees and immigrants have been coming to Boston since the end of the Vietnam war in 1975. Centered in Fields Corner in Dorchester, they are now the second largest Asian ethnic group in the city.

Cape Verdeans

Cape Verdeans

Cape Verdeans have been coming to Massachusetts since the 1840s, but have only moved into the Boston area in large numbers since the 1970s. Today they are one of the city’s top ten immigrant groups and the largest hailing from Africa.

Central Americans

Central Americans

Fleeing civil wars, violence and repression, newcomers from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras began arriving in greater Boston in the early 1980s. Thirty years later, Central Americans make up a large portion of the region’s Latino population.

South Asians

South Asians

Attracted by higher education and professional opportunities, South Asians have been coming to Boston since the 1960s. Today, Indians are one of the largest foreign-born groups in the metro area.

Dominicans

Dominicans

Coming originally as agricultural workers in the 1950s and 1960s, Dominicans have become the region’s largest Latino immigrant group and have settled across the metro region.

Brazilians

Brazilians

Greater Boston has attracted more Brazilian immigrants than any major metropolitan area in the country, in part because of its historic Portuguese-speaking communities.

West Indians

West Indians

Immigrants from the English-speaking Caribbean have been settling in Boston since the early twentieth century. Coming mainly from Jamaica and Barbadoes, they have built flourishing communities in Dorchester and Mattapan.

Colombians

Colombians

Starting with a trickle of textile workers in the 1970s, thousands of Colombians have settled in Massachusetts in recent decades. The largest number live in Boston, and especially in the neighborhood of East Boston.

Refugees and Asylees

Refugees and Asylees

Boston has been a magnet for refugees since its founding in the 1600s. But especially since World War II, hundreds of thousands of those fleeing violence and persecution have resettled in the region, laying the foundations for later immigrant communities.

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