Colombian Americans

Colombian Americans

Total population
0.34% of the U.S. population (2015)
Regions with significant populations
Predominantly in Miami/Fort Lauderdale Area, Tampa, Orlando, California, New York, New Jersey. Growing populations in Texas, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
Spanish, American English

Roman Catholicism

Protestantism, Evangelicalism, Baptism, Judaism
Related ethnic groups
Spaniards, White Colombian, Mestizo, Afro-Colombian, German Colombian, Italian Colombian, Lebanese Colombian, Jewish-Colombian, Demographics of Colombia

Colombian Americans (Spanish: colombo-americanos, norteamericanos de origen colombiano or estadounidenses de origen colombiano) are Americans who trace their full or partial nationality or heritage to Colombia. They are the largest South American ethnic group in the United States.


The first Colombians immigrants who settled in the United States likely arrived in the 1800s. However, the Colombian presence in United States would not be known with certainty since the federal census did not specify the country of origin for South Americans until 1960. These immigrants did not maintain any relation with their native countries, just until a few generations after, they identify themselves only as Americans.

The first Colombian community formed after World War I, through the arrival of several hundred professionals (nurses, accountants, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, and bilingual secretaries) that established themselves in New York City; later on, more people were added to the community when Colombian students decided to stay in the US after earning their degrees. Most immigrants settled in Jackson Heights, a middle-class neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City, that has good housing, schools and churches. The growth of the Colombian American population was slow until 1940, when there was an increase in Colombian immigration to New York.

Post World War II

Most Colombians who arrived after the mid-1960s wanted to stay in the United States temporarily. Therefore, the number of Colombian undocumented immigrants increased: from 250,000 to 350,000 people in the mid 1970s. Despite a succession of immigration laws, the Colombian population in the United States continued to grow. New York remained the most popular destination. Smaller communities formed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. and in the 1970s, North Side, Chicago.[2]

Since the 1980s, many Colombians have settled in Miami (especially in its suburbs, such as Doral, Kendall, and Hialeah, and the Weston suburb of Fort Lauderdale). Initially they settled in Little Havana, the largest Cuban neighborhood, many of them engaged in the business of trade between Miami and Latin America. The area also attracted wealthy Colombians, who settled there to get medical care, send their children to school, and escape from social, economic, and political turmoil in Colombia.[2]

By 1987, Colombian Americans were one of the fastest growing Hispanic groups in Miami. By the early 1990s, many Colombian Americans left the metropolitan centers for the suburbs due to crime and the high cost of urban living. This trend was probably started for the first time in the coastal towns of Connecticut and New York. Colombian communities grew significantly in places such as Stamford, Connecticut, Bergenline and Englewood, New Jersey, Jacksonville, Florida (which attracted a growing number of people from Miami), and Skokie, Evanston, Arlington Heights and Park Ridge, Illinois. Despite the migration to other areas, the largest communities remained in New York City, Miami, and their environs.[2]

In 1990 and 1991, 43,891 Colombians were admitted to the United States, more than from any other South American country. They were for the first time the most populous group of undocumented immigrants in the US from South America. Between 1992 and 1997, the intensity of the conflict in Colombia increased, so nearly 75,000 Colombians immigrated to the United States in this period, many of them going to California.[2]

Causes of migration

Economic problems and violence have led to an emigration of Colombians to the United States, particularly South Florida (especially in the suburbs of Miami, Florida such as Doral, Kendall, and Hialeah, and the Weston suburb of Fort Lauderdale), Central Florida, New Jersey (North Jersey), Queens County in New York City, Philadelphia, the Washington DC metro area, eastern Long Island, and an expanding community in California, Texas and Georgia, mainly in the Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta areas.[2]

After of World War I, many Colombians immigrated to United States in order to complete their education there, studying in the universities of this country. Most of them settled in New York. After the civil war in 1948 and increased poverty in Colombia many Colombians also emigrated to United States during the 1950s. In the 1960s, the economic crisis prompted the emigration of many Colombians to the United States, obtaining U.S. citizenship Between 1960 and 1977.[2]

Since the 1980s, many Colombians American fled their urban cities to migrate to suburban areas in states like New Jersey and Connecticut, as their socioeconomic status improved. The conflict escalation between guerrillas, paramilitaries, and narcos between 1992 and 1997 also boosted the Colombian emigration during this period. As was discussed earlier, about 75,000 Colombians immigrated at that time the United States, concentrating mostly in the state of California.[2]


Ethnic composition

Ethnically, Colombians are a diverse population including Colombians of Indigenous ancestry, Afro-Colombians, and Colombians of European ancestry (mainly Spanish). However, the majority of Colombians are Castizo and Mestizo (Amerindian/European). In addition, Colombians of Middle Eastern descent, notably Syrian and Lebanese, and of East Asian descent, mostly Japanese and Chinese, also compose Colombian society.

Until 1960, most Colombians emigrating to the United States were white or mestizos. However, between this year and 1977, a period in which more than 116,000 Colombians emigrated to the United States, are becoming more ethnically diverse, representing the ethnic diversity of the population Colombian. So today, although most Colombian Americans are white and mestizos, there are also numerous Afro Colombians in the Colombian American population[2]

Large communities

As of the 2000 Census, 228,400 Colombians were living in the New York metro area and 169,271 Colombians were living in the Miami metropolitan area. The largest Colombian community lives in the South Florida area (Doral, Kendall, Weston, and Hialeah) with a population of 138,768,[3][4] and Jackson Heights in Queens County, New York city.[2]

In New York City, a large Colombian community thrives and continues to expand in size since the wave of immigration began in the 1970s. Jackson Heights in Queens County was heavily Colombian during the 1980s, but other immigrant groups have settled in the area, notably Ecuadoreans and Mexicans. Many of the displaced Colombians have moved to adjacent areas such as Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona, while wealthier Colombians have gone further afield to College Point and Flushing. Queens County still has the largest concentration of Colombians in the United States of any county (roughly 75,000).

Top States with highest Colombian population

The 10 states with the largest population of Colombians were (Source: 2010 Census[5])

State/Territory Colombian
(2010 Census)[6]
 Florida 300,414
 New York 141,879
 New Jersey 101,593
 California 64,416
 Texas 50,810
 Georgia (U.S. state) 26,013
 Massachusetts 23,843
 Connecticut 20,048
 Illinois 19,345
 North Carolina 17,648

The U.S. state with the smallest population of Colombians (as of 2010) was Wyoming with 178 Colombian Americans.

The 25 U.S. communities with the highest Colombia ancestry

The 25 U.S. communities with the highest percentage of people claiming Colombian ancestry are:[4]

  1. Victory Gardens, New Jersey 15.27%
  2. Dover, New Jersey 11.27%
  3. The Hammocks, Florida 10.02%
  4. Central Falls, Rhode Island 9.94%
  5. Montauk, New York 9.53%
  6. Doral, Florida 8.71%
  7. Country Club, Florida 8.63%
  8. Morristown, New Jersey 7.98%
  9. Englewood, New Jersey 7.17%
  10. Virginia Gardens, Florida 7.16%
  11. Key Biscayne, Florida 7.07%
  12. Elizabeth, New Jersey 6.46%
  13. Kendale Lakes, Florida 6.36%
  14. Weston, Florida 6.19%
  15. Sunny Isles Beach, Florida 6.07%
  16. West New York, New Jersey 5.82%
  17. North Bergen, New Jersey 5.77%
  18. both Fontainebleau, Florida and North Bay Village, Florida 5.29%
  19. Guttenberg, New Jersey 5.28%
  20. Richmond West, Florida 5.13%
  21. Bay Harbor Islands, Florida 4.72%
  22. Surfside, Florida 4.66%
  23. Hialeah Gardens, Florida 4.62%
  24. Kendall, Florida 4.56%
  25. Union City, New Jersey 4.53%

U.S. communities with the most residents born in Colombia

The top 25 U.S. communities with the most residents born in Colombia are:[7]

  1. Victory Gardens, NJ 17.3%
  2. Dover, NJ 14.3%
  3. Virginia Gardens, FL 12.3%
  4. Kendall West, FL 11.9%
  5. The Hammocks, FL 11.6%
  6. Central Falls, RI 11.4%
  7. Country Club, FL 11.3%
  8. Morristown, NJ 9.8%
  9. Montauk, NY 9.0%
  10. Broadview-Pompano Park, FL 8.9%
  11. Doral, FL 8.6%
  12. Englewood, NJ 8.3%
  13. East Hampton North, NY 8.1%
  14. Fort Devens, MA 8.0%
  15. Key Biscayne, FL 7.9%
  16. Kendale Lakes, FL 7.8%
  17. Sunny Isles Beach, FL 7.5%
  18. Kendale Lakes-Lindgren Acres, FL 7.5%
  19. The Crossings, FL 7.4%
  20. Elizabeth, NJ 7.2%
  21. North Bay Village, FL 7.0%
  22. Weston, FL 6.7%
  23. West New York, NJ 6.3%
  24. Hialeah Gardens, FL 6.1%
  25. Kendall, FL 6.0%

Cultural traditions in the United States

Musical styles that are enjoyed by Colombian Americans include vallenato and cumbia. The majority of Colombians are Roman Catholic. Colombian food is varied due to the several distinct regions of Colombia. Popular dishes include bandeja paisa, sancocho (chicken or fish soup with plantain), empanadas (meat-filled turnovers), pandebono and pan de queso (types of cheese-bread), and arepas (corncake similar to a tortilla). Colombian food is popular and well known in Queens County.

The main pastime of Colombians in the United States is soccer, and most Colombian Americans raised in the United States continue to follow soccer. Another popular pastime, especially among the older generation, is parqués, a Colombian board game which is very similar to Parcheesi.

Colombian-Americans in professional sports

Ice Hockey





See also


  1. US Census Bureau 2015 American Community Survey B03001 1-Year Estimates HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN Archived August 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. retrieved November 13, 2016
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Countries and Their Cultures. Posted by Pamela Sturner Retrieved in December 04, 2011, to 23:09 pm.
  3. Colombian Immigration
  4. 1 2 "Ancestry Map of Colombian Communities". Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  5. American FactFinder - QT-P10: Hispanic or Latino by Type: 2010
  6. US Census Bureau: Table QT-P10 Hispanic or Latino by Type: 2010 Archived December 18, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. retrieved January 22, 2012 - select state from drop-down menu
  7. "Top 101 cities with the most residents born in Colombia (population 500+)". Retrieved 2008-07-16.
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