South Asian Americans

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South Asian Americans are Americans of full or partial South Asian ancestry. As a result, the term refers mostly to people of the Indian subcontinent. South Asian American people can usually trace back their heritage to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.[3] In the United States Census they are a subcategory of Asian Americans, although individual racial classification is based on self-identification and the categorization is "not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically".[4]

South Asian Americans
United States United States
Total population
1.9% of the total U.S. population (2018)
American English
Ancestral languages: Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Sinhala, Sindhi, Nepali, Dzongkha, Maldivian, other South Asian languages
Mainly Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism
Christian, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jain and Irreligious minorities



South Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing groups in the United States, increasing in population from 2.2 million to 4.9 million from 2000 to 2015.[5] Around one third of the group lives in the Southern United States, with the population nearly tripling in the South between 2000 to 2017.[2]

Following is the list of South Asian diasporas living in the USA arranged according to their 2017 population estimated by the United States Census Bureau.[1]

Geographic distribution in U.S.Edit

South Asians are in higher concentration in California, Illinois, Texas and the Mid-Atlantic (namely, New Jersey and New York). As of 2012 the metropolitan areas with the largest South Asian populations are New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The states containing the fastest growing metro areas with 5,000 or more South Asians are Washington, California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.[6]

Notable contributionsEdit

Arts and entertainmentEdit

Comedian and actor Hari Kondabolu has been described as one of the most successful South Asians performers in the US.[5] Other Notable actors and entertainers include Mindy Kaling, Hannah Simone, Aziz Ansari, Kumail Nanjiani, Kunal Nayyar and Hasan Minhaj.

Government and politicsEdit

In 1957, Dalip Singh Saund of California became the first Asian-American in the United States House of Representatives. In 2017, Ravi Bhalla became the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, making him the first Sikh to be elected to the position and Kamala Harris became a U.S Senator from California.

In 2020, Kamala Harris became the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 2020 presidential election, when Joe Biden chose her as his running mate, making her the first African American and South Asian American vice presidential running mate on a major party ticket. The election was won by Joe Biden making Harris the first female and first African American and South Asian American to be held at such a high office.

News mediaEdit

Amna Nawaz is a correspondent and substitute anchor for the PBS NewsHour and Hari Sreenivasan is a correspondent for the NewsHour and the weekend anchor for the NewsHour.Another notable personality is Fareed Zakaria who is a journalist, political commentator, and author. He is the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS and writes a weekly paid column for The Washington Post. He has been a columnist for Newsweek, editor of Newsweek International, and an editor at large of Time.[7]

Cultural influenceEdit


South Asian Americans are often overrepresented as university graduates in US census data.[8]


There are a number of organizations formed by and for the representation of South Asian Americans in a number of fields and industries, including in alphabetical order:


In 2019, South Asian Americans were typically enrolled as Democrats.[12] Until July 2, 1946, South Asians were banned from holding citizenship in the United States. See [3] below.

Customs and traditionsEdit


Arranged marriage is still observed in some South Asian American families and communities throughout the United States.[13]


Although not especially popular in the US, cricket is widely appreciated and played by South Asian American youth, as is the case in the United Kingdom's South Asian communities.[11]

Social and political issuesEdit

LGBT communitiesEdit

It has been reported in American media that the group has certain stigmas in relation to the LGBT communities.[14]

Politics in South AsiaEdit

In 2019, some American students of South Asian heritage protested the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, passed in the Parliament of India.[10] In the same year, a group of South Asian Americans petitioned the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to cancel a planned award for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.[15]


Among South Asians in the US, Bhutanese Americans have the highest poverty rates by a significant margin (33.3 percent) with Bangladeshi Americans (24.2 percent) the next highest.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b samip (2017). "ASIAN ALONE OR IN ANY COMBINATION BY SELECTED GROUPS". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2020-02-14. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
  2. ^ a b c Sabrina Tavernise; Robert Gebeloff (November 9, 2019). "How Voters Turned Virginia From Deep Red to Solid Blue". The New York Times. Lakshmi Sridaran, who heads South Asian Americans Leading Together, said that about a third of South Asians in the United States now live in the South. The South Asian population in the South nearly tripled from 2000 to 2017, to 1.4 million.
  3. ^ samip (2 March 2013). "An Introduction to South Asian American History".
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Yudhijit Bhattacharjee (September 1, 2018). "How South Asian Americans Are Building a New American Dream". National Geographic.
  6. ^ Asian American Federation and Strengthening South Asian Communities in America, "A Demographic Snapshot of South Asians in the United States," July 2012 Update, p. 2, 3
  7. ^ Zakaria, Fareed (1998). "Newsletter". Foreign Affairs. 77 (3): 133. doi:10.2307/20048898. ISSN 0015-7120.
  8. ^ Kiran Misra (March 11, 2020). "How South Asian Americans Are Building a New American Dream". Chicago Reader. Within the South Asian American population, university students are often comparatively overrepresented in the census
  9. ^ Anna Purna Kambhampaty (March 12, 2020). "At Census Time, Asian Americans Again Confront the Question of Who 'Counts' as Asian. Here's How the Answer Got So Complicated". TIME.
  10. ^ a b Shreeya Singh (February 29, 2020). "South Asian Students Are Protesting Narendra Modi's Treatment of Muslims in India". Teen Vogue.
  11. ^ a b Rebecca Tan (November 1, 2019). "These Gen Z Americans fell in love with the sport of their immigrant parents". The Washington Post.
  12. ^ Kimmy Yam (November 11, 2019). "Asian Americans favor Biden, Warren while Yang lags behind, survey finds". NBC News. While groups like Chinese Americans are more likely to be unaffiliated, Vattamala mentioned that certain ethnic groups, much like Vietnamese Americans, have stayed staunchly loyal to specific parties. For example, South Asian Americans are typically enrolled as Democrats.
  13. ^ Lakshmi Gandhi (August 24, 2019). "Arranged marriages take a modern spin in recent novels by South Asian American authors". NBC News. “The Marriage Clock” is one of several recent books by South Asian Americans that examine modern day arranged marriages. These books also serve as a reminder that arranged and semi-arranged marriages like Raheem’s still take place in South Asian and other ethnic communities across the United States.
  14. ^ Natasha Roy (March 11, 2020). "How queer South Asian American representation helps reduce community's stigma". NBC News.
  15. ^ G.S. Mudur (September 14, 2019). "Gates prodded to drop Modi". The Telegraph.
  16. ^ "Indian-American population grew by 38 percent between 2010-2017: Report". The Economic Times. June 18, 2019.