Pacific Islands Americans

Pacific Islands Americans, also known as Oceanian Americans, Pacific Islander Americans or Native Hawaiian and/or other Pacific Islander Americans, are Americans who have ethnic ancestry among the indigenous peoples of Oceania (viz. Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians). For its purposes, the U.S. Census also counts Indigenous Australians as part of this group.[2][3]

Pacific Islands Americans
Oceanian Americans
Total population
608,219 alone
0.2% of the total U.S. population (2017)[1]
1,225,195 alone or in combination
0.4% of the total U.S. population (2010 Census)
Regions with significant populations
 American Samoa,  Guam,
 Northern Mariana Islands,
 California,  Hawaii,  Washington,  Oregon,  Nevada,  Alaska,
 Texas,  Florida
American English, Polynesian languages, Micronesian languages
Christianity, Polytheism, Bahá'í, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Druze
Related ethnic groups
Pacific Islanders, Austronesians

Pacific Islander Americans make up 0.5% of the U.S. population including those with partial Pacific Islander ancestry, enumerating about 1.4 million people. The largest ethnic subgroups of Pacific Islander Americans are Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Chamorros, Fijians, Marshallese and Tongans. Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongans, and Chamorros have large communities in Hawaii, California, Utah, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, with sizable communities in Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Florida, and Alaska. Fijians are predominantly based in California.

American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands are insular areas (U.S. territories), while Hawaii is a state.


The US occupied Hawaii in 1896, the Mariana Islands in 1898 and American Samoa in 1899. [4] From then on, the emigration of the Pacific Islanders to the US began, being initiated by the natives of those islands. While the emigration of Pacific Islanders to the US was small until the end of World War II, when many islanders (at least Tongan missionaries) emigrated to the United States. Emigration was increasing progressively and by the end of the 60s there were hundreds of indigenous people from Oceania who emigrated to the US, especially thanks to the increase in Fijian migration (one of the main groups of Pacific Islanders in the US, which exceeded one hundred immigrants in this age). However, the first great wave of Pacific Islanders came from the 70s, a decade in which the emigration of Tonga, Fiji and Micronesia was markedly increased (more than 1,000 Fijians emigrated to the US in the 1970s). Many of these people emigrated to the US to study at its universities. [5] In addition, in the 1980s, Marshallese emigration to the USA began, when this country gave sovereignty to the Marshall Islands through an agreement called the Compact of Free Association. The Tyson Foods company (which employed a significant part of the population of the islands) relocated many of its Marshellese employees in Springdale, Arkansas, where the company is based.[6] Since then, the emigration of Pacific Islanders has been significant in the US.


In the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census, the term "Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander" refers to people having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, the Marshalls or other Pacific Islands.

In the 2010 census 1,225,195 Americans claimed "'Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander'" as their race alone or in combination.

Pacific Islands Americans in the 2000[7]2010 U.S. Census[8] (From over 1,000 people)

Ancestry20002000 % of Pacific Islands American population20102010 % of Pacific Islands American population
Fijian 13,581 1.6% 32,304 2.6%
French Polynesian 3,313 0.4% 5,062 0.4%
Marshallese 6,650 0.8% 22,434 1.8%
"Micronesian" (not specified) 9,940 1.1% 29,112 2.4%
Micronesian (FSM) 1,948 0.2% 8,185 0.7%
Polynesians with New Zealand citizenship (Māori, Tokelauans, Niueans, Cook Islanders) 2,422 (Māori: 1,994; Tokelauans: 574) 0.3% 925 (Tokelauans only) 0.1%
Chamorro 93,237 (Guamanian or Chamorro: 92,611; Saipanese: 475; Mariana Islander: 141) 10.7% 148,220 (Guamanian or Chamorro: 147,798; Saipanese: 1,031; Mariana Islander: 391) 12.2%
Native Hawaiians 401,162 45.9% 527,077 43.0%
Palauan 3,469 0.4% 7,450 0.6%
"Polynesian" (not specified) 8,796 1.0% 9,153 0.7%
Samoan 133,281 15.2% 184,440 15.1%
Tongan 36,840 4.2% 57,183 4.7%
Others 188,389 % 241,952 %
TOTAL 874,414 100.0% 1,225,195 100.0%


State/territoryPacific Islands
Americans alone
(2010 US Census)[9]
Pacific Islands Americans
alone or in combination
(2010 US Census)[10]
(Pacific Islands
Americans alone)[note 1]
 American Samoa51,403[11]52,790[12]92.6%[13]
 District of Columbia7701,514-
 Guam78,582 [14]90,238 [15]49.3%[16]
 New Hampshire5321,236-
 New Jersey7,73115,777-
 New Mexico3,1325,7500.1%
 New York24,00045,8010.1%
 North Carolina10,30917,8910.1%
 North Dakota3348010.1%
 Northern Mariana Islands18,800 [17]24,891 [18]34.9%[19]
 Puerto Rico370 [20][21]No data0.0%
 Rhode Island1,6022,8030.1%
 South Carolina3,9576,9880.1%
 South Dakota5171,0400.1%
Virgin Islands (U.S.)16 [22]No data0.0%
 West Virginia4851,295-
 United States674,6251,332,4940.2%

Micronesian Americans

Micronesian Americans are Americans of Micronesian descent.

According to the 2010 census, the largest Chamoru populations were located in California, Washington and Texas, but their combined number from these three states totaled less than half the number living throughout the U.S. It also revealed that the Chamoru people are the most geographically dispersed Oceanic ethnicity in the country.[23]

Marshallese Americans or Marshallese come from the Marshall Islands. In the 2010 census 22,434 Americans identified as being of Marshallese descent.

Because of the Marshall Islands entering the Compact of Free Association in 1986, Marshallese have been allowed to migrate and work in the United States. There are many reasons why Marshallese came to the United States. Some Marshallese came for educational opportunities, particularly for their children. Others sought work or better health care than what is available in the islands. Massive layoffs by the Marshallese government in 2000 led to a second big wave of immigration.

Arkansas has the largest Marshallese population with over 6,000 residents. Many live in Springdale, and the Marshallese comprise over 5% of the city's population. Other significant Marshallese populations include Spokane and Costa Mesa.

Polynesian Americans

Polynesian Americans are Americans of Polynesian descent.

Large subcategories of Polynesian Americans include Native Hawaiians and Samoan Americans. In addition there are smaller communities of Tongan Americans (see Culture and diaspora of Tonga), French Polynesian Americans, and Māori Americans.

A Samoan American is an American who is of ethnic Samoan descent from either the independent nation Samoa or the American territory of American Samoa. Samoan American is a subcategory of Polynesian American. About 55,000 people live on American Samoa, while the US census in 2000 and 2008 has found 4 times the number of Samoan Americans live in the mainland USA.

California has the most Samoans; concentrations live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County. San Francisco has approximately 2,000 people of Samoan ancestry, and other Bay Area cities such as East Palo Alto and Daly City have Samoan communities. In Los Angeles County, Long Beach and Carson have abundant Samoan communities, as well as in Oceanside in San Diego County.[24][25][26] Other West Coast metropolitan areas such as Seattle have strong Samoan communities, mainly in King County and in Tacoma. Anchorage, Alaska, and Honolulu, Hawaii, both have thousands of Samoan Americans residing in each city.

Persons born in American Samoa are United States nationals, but not United States citizens.[27] (This is the only circumstance under which an individual would be one and not the other.) For this reason, Samoans can move to Hawaii or the mainland United States and obtain citizenship comparatively easily. Like Hawaiian Americans, the Samoans arrived in the mainland in the 20th century as agricultural laborers and factory workers.

Elsewhere in the United States, Samoan Americans are plentiful throughout the state of Utah, as well as in Killeen, Texas; Norfolk, Virginia; and Independence, Missouri.

A Tongan American is an American who is of ethnic Tongan descent. Utah has the largest Tongan American population and Hawaii has the second largest. Many of the first Tongan Americans came to the United States in connection to the LDS Church.


Based on 2003 recruiting data, Pacific Islander Americans were 249% over-represented in the military.[28]

American Samoans are distinguished among the wider Pacific Islander group for enthusiasm for enlistment. In 2007, a Chicago Tribune reporter covering the island's military service noted, "American Samoa is one of the few places in the nation where military recruiters not only meet their enlistment quotas but soundly exceed them."[29] As of 23 March 2009 there have been 10 American Samoans who have died in Iraq, and 2 who have died in Afghanistan.[30]

Pacific Islander Americans are also represented in the Navy SEALS, making up .6% of the enlisted and .1% of the officers.[31]

See also


  1. Percentage of the state population that identifies itself as Pacific Islanders relative to the state/territory population as a whole — the percentage is of Pacific Islands Americans alone.


  1. "Pacific Islanders 2017 Origin: 2017". US Census Bureau.
  2. University of Virginia. Geospatial and Statistical Data Center. "1990 PUMS Ancestry Codes." 2003. August 30, 2007."Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 25, 2007. Retrieved August 31, 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Clark Library - U-M Library".
  4. >"American Samoa Office of Insular Affairs". U.S. Department of the Interior. June 11, 2015.
  5. "Micronesians Abroad", Micronesian Counselor, published by Micronesian Seminar, authored by Francis X. Hezel and Eugenia Samuel, number 64, December 2006, retrieved 8 July 2013
  6. Marshallese immigration. Consulted on 25 October 2013, to 1:30 am.
  7. The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Population, Census 2000
  8. The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Population: 2010 Census, 2010 Census Briefs, United States Bureau of the Census, May 2012
  9. US Census Bureau: " Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin for the United States, States, and Counties: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015" retrieved September 05, 2016 - select state from drop-down menu
  10. US Census Bureau: " Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin for the United States, States, and Counties: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015" retrieved September 05, 2016 - select state from drop-down menu
  11. Bureau, U. S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results".
  12. Bureau, U. S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results".
  13. American Samoa. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  14. Bureau, U. S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results".
  15. Bureau, U. S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results".
  16. Guam. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  17. Bureau, U. S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results".
  18. Bureau, U. S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results".
  19. Northern Mariana Islands. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  20. American FactFinder. Race and Hispanic or Latino Origin: 2010. 2010 Census Summary File 1. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  21. Pacific Islanders in Puerto Rico. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  22. American FactFinder. Race (Total Population). 2010 U.S. Virgin Islands Summary File. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  23. "2010 Census Shows More than Half of Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders Report Multiple Races". United States Census 2010. United States government. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  24. Knight, Heather (March 1, 2006). "A YEAR AT MALCOLM X: Second Chance at Success Samoan families learn American culture". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  25. Sahagun, Louis (October 1, 2009). "Samoans in Carson hold church services for tsunami, earthquake victims". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  26. Garrison, Jessica. "Samoan Americans at a Crossroads", Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2000. Retrieved 2010-10-3.
  27. American Samoa and the Citizenship Clause: A Study in Insular Cases Revisionism. Chapter 3. Harvard Law Review. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  28. "Who Bears the Burden?". Heritage Foundation.
  29. Scharnberg, Kirsten (March 21, 2007). "Young Samoans have little choice but to enlist". Chicago Tribune.
  30. Congressman Faleomavaega (March 23, 2009). "WASHINGTON, D.C.—AMERICAN SAMOA DEATH RATE IN THE IRAQ WAR IS HIGHEST AMONG ALL STATES AND U.S. TERRITORIES". Press Release. United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on October 9, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
  31. "Navy SEALS to Diversify". Time. March 12, 2012.
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