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California Population by Race and Ethnicity

California, the largest state in the United States, is a melting pot of different ethnicities. As of 2020, Hispanics/Latinos make up the largest population group and have a significant impact on shaping the state’s culture. White, non-Hispanic residents constitute the second-largest group and play a vital role in California’s economic growth. Asians, who are a sizeable community, contribute significantly to technological advancements. The dynamic interaction of these diverse groups defines California’s unique identity. If you’re interested, let’s explore further and examine the details.

Ethnic and Racial Percentage

In 2020, the Hispanic or Latino population became the largest racial or ethnic group in California, comprising 39.4% of the total population, up from 37.6% in 2010. This differs from 2010 when the largest racial or ethnic group in California was the White alone (non-Hispanic) population, whose share declined from 40.1% in 2010 to 34.69% in 2020.

The Asian population was the third-largest group at 15.12%. Black or African American was the fourth largest group at 5.36%. Two or more races are at 4.12% 

The ethnic composition of California is as follows

Race and OriginActual PopulationPercentage 2020
Hispanic or Latino15,579,65239.40%
White (Non-Hispanic) alone13,714,58734.69%
Asian alone5,978,79515.12%
Black or African American alone2,119,2865.36%
American Indians and Alaska Natives alone156,0850.39%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders alone138,1670.35%
Some Other Race alone223,9290.57%
Two or more races1,627,7224.12%

Source: US Census 2020

also read about religion in California

Ancestry in California

As per Census Studies and estimate German, Irish, and English Americans have made the three largest ancestry groups in California. Next comes Italian, American, and French ancestry.

Top Ancestry in California

French 576,1811.46%

read about Top Cities in California 

European Ancestry in California

California has the largest population of European Americans of any state. It has a long history of German, Irish, Italian, English, and Polish communities established by immigrants in the late 19th century. There are also many English Americans, Irish Americans, and French Americans whose ancestors were the original 49ers, also known as the California Gold Rush immigrants.

The Italian community in California is in the North Beach District of San Francisco. 60% of Californian Italo-Americans are from northern Italy. Other numerous groups are from Tuscany and Sicily. Many Italians also live in San Diego, with Little Italy having San Diego’s largest Italian population.

California has a large population of  Bulgarian Americans, Romanian Americans, and Hungarian Americans than any other U.S. state. Los Angeles and San Francisco have large Russian American and Ukrainian American populations. California has over one million residents each with Spanish or Portuguese ancestry. A small wave of Danish, Dutch, and Swedish immigrants founded many towns in California.

California also has the third-largest Greek American population in the United States, behind New York and Massachusetts. The Los Angeles Harbor area of San Pedro has a sizeable Croatian American population. 

French (except Basque)576,1811.46%
French Canadian97,3470.25%

read about the population of California 

Hispanics and Latinos in California

California has the largest population of Hispanics/Latinos in the country. Most of the state’s Latinos have Mexican ancestry, having the largest Mexican population in the United States, making up about 31 percent of the state population. Mainly Mexican Americans, form major portions of the population of Southern California, especially in Los Angeles, as well as the San Joaquin Valley.

The city of Los Angeles is often said to be the largest Mexican and Central American community in the United States. and Latinos are the majority in 14 counties of California. Latinos make up at least 20% of the San Francisco Bay Area.  San Jose is about 30–35 percent Latino, the largest Latino community in northern California.

It also has a large and diverse population of Central Americans, especially the Salvadoran population in the United States. Guatemalan Americans are spread out in Southern California. California also has many Cuban Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, Honduran Americans, and Nicaraguan Americans, along with people of Chilean, Colombian, Peruvian, and other South American ancestry. 12,392 Belizeans also live in California.

African Americans in California

California has 2.2 million African Americans, the largest population of Black or African Americans in the western U.S. states, and the 5th largest Black population in the United States. The state percentage of African Americans dropped in the 1990s and 2000s, though the state’s overall number of African-Americans has increased during that time period. Most African Americans in California have origins in Southern states like Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.

California has a number of West Indian (Afro-Caribbean American) and African immigrants from countries such as Cape Verde, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, and South Africa (including White South Africans), Tanzania, and Yemen across from the Horn of Africa. Immigrants from these countries have established communities in a number of cities in the state, such as Little Ethiopia in West Los Angeles. 

The majority of California’s Black alone population resides in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, where they make up approximately 5.6% of the city’s population and 4% of the metro population. Other urban areas, such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento, also host significant Black populations. Additionally, there are numerous Black residents living in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas across the state.

Asian Americans in California

California has the largest Asian American population in the U.S., and the second-highest proportion of Asian American residents, after Hawaii. As of the 2020 U.S. Census, there were over 6 million Asian Americans in California; 15.5% of the state’s population. 

The largest Asian American ethnic subgroups in California are Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian Americans. Asian Americans in California are concentrated in the San Francisco and Los Angeles metropolitan areas.

The percentage of the Top Asian population by percentage 

Asian EthnicityPercentage
Middle Eastern Americans in California

More than 1,300,000 Jewish Americans live in California, the majority of whom are Ashkenazi Jews. In addition, there are more than 250,000 Israeli Americans living in the Los Angeles area.  Little Arabia is an ethnic enclave in Orange County, California, and is the home to thousands of Arab Americans predominantly hailing from Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Yemen.

More than 500,000 Iranian Americans live throughout Southern California, including about 20% of the population of Beverly Hills. California is also home to many Armenian Americans with an estimated population of 500,000 ethnic Armenians with over half of them living in the Greater Los Angeles area.

There is also a large population of Afghan Americans, Assyrian/Chaldean, Morrocan, Turkish Americans, and Azerbaijani Americans.


Native Americans in California

As of 2010, California’s Native American population of 362,801 was the most of any state. It also has the most Native American tribes, indigenous to the state or not, but the majority of known Californian Indian tribes became extinct in the late 19th century. The U.S. Census includes Latin American Indians, especially immigrants who belonged to indigenous peoples or who have Amerindian heritage from North and South America.

The Cherokee Nation is the largest tribe in the state with a population of 22,000 in 2020. California also has significant populations of the Apache, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, Seminole, Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, Blackfeet, Shoshone, Paiute, Pueblo, Tohono Oʼodham, Cahuilla, Chumash, Karuk, Yurok, and Yokut tribes. 

Pacific Islanders in California

The state has 150,000 residents of Pacific Islander ancestry. Most, 80,000, are Native Hawaiians of measurable Polynesian ancestry; many also have Asian, European, or other ancestries. There are also 25,000 Samoan Americans originally from American Samoa or Western Samoa.

About 10,000 Chamorros from Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands live in northern California, the largest Micronesian community in the mainland United States. An estimated 10,000 Tahitians from French Polynesia live in southern California.

Race and Ethnicity in California | Ancestry in California