By the numbers: the Detroit Region is one of the most diverse in the nation.

Author:Armstrong, Melissa

While other large cities have distinct ethnic enclaves, like Chinatown in San Francisco or Little Italy in New York City, the Detroit Region's ethnically diverse population seems to be more distributed throughout the region. There was a time when this was not the case.


European immigrants were initially attracted to the area by the automobile industry's high-paying jobs. These early immigrants tended to come from very specific countries--Germany, England, Ireland and Poland being the most common. Over 15 percent of regional Detroit residents claim they are of German ancestry. While this is only slightly more than the United States average, nearly 9 percent of the area's residents consider themselves of Polish ancestry, compared to only 3 percent nationwide.

Early European arrivals may have originally settled in neighborhoods near their fellow countrymen, but the Detroit Region's early trend toward suburbanization dispersed our early ethnic population more than other comparable cities. And while recent immigrants, mostly from several regions of Asia, can be predictable in selecting an area to settle, these areas tend to be fairly broad.

As with the nation as a whole, the Detroit Region's immigration patterns have changed significantly over the years. Close to 35 percent of the region's foreign-born population that entered the United States before 1990 came from Europe. From 1990 to 2006 that number dropped to only 22 percent.

Since 1990, emigrants from Asia have more than made up for this decline in European immigration. For those immigrants that entered the United States before 1990, roughly 40 percent came from Asian countries. For those entering the United States since 2000, over 53 percent were from Asia, Emigration from Africa has also increased significantly, although Africans comprise less than 5 percent of the region's total foreign-born population. And similar to the rest of the United States, emigration from Latin American countries has grown since 1990.

It is important to keep in mind, particularly when looking at the Detroit Region, that Asia is actually comprised of many different regions, two of which we commonly refer to as the "Middle East." Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey are all considered part of Western Asia. Immigrants from these countries make up 17 percent of the region's foreign-born population. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran and Pakistan are considered South Central Asia and make up 13 percent...

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