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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.