• Sahmi Chowdhury

5 Cities in the United States with the Most South Asians


Currently, there are 5.4 million South Asians in the United States. The group is the fastest growing major ethnic group in the United States growing by over 40% since 2010, according to South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) — a national civil rights organization — in its latest South Asian demographic snapshot released 2019, based primarily on Census 2010 and the 2017 American Community Survey. Here, we take a look at which 5 cities have experienced the most growth in recent years.


New York City

The city with the most South Asians in the United States is New York. No surprise

here, New York was a major stop for many South Asians since the early 1900s and still continues to be a top spot for all types of South Asians to settle at. There are approximately 291,000 South Asians currently living in New York City as of a 2010 consensus, representing the largest Asian Indian population in the Western Hemisphere. The four largest South Asian nations represented by population are India (192,209), Bangladesh (53,174), Pakistan (41,887), and Sri Lanka (3,696), respectively.


The borough of Queens represents approximately 8% of the total population, including the Indo-Caribbean population coming from Guyana, Trinidad, and Jamaica. Sri Lankans are also very prevalent here. Little Sri Lanka in the Tompkinsville neighborhood of the borough of Staten Island is one of the largest Sri Lankan communities outside of the country of Sri Lanka itself.

These numbers indicate that Bollywood will continue to use New York for most of their US hotspots.


Chicago

The state of Illinois currently has over 242,000 South Asians, most residing in the Greater Chicago area. According to the Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Chicago—the ethnic population in the state has grown by approximately 55% over the past decade, the most by any ethnic group in the state. Moreover, Bangladeshis have seen growth of over 150% since 2000 in the Chicago area, the most growth among other South Asian groups during this time period. Even Bollywood has made its debut in the city through Dhoom 3, where action scenes were filmed in downtown Chicago!


Washington D.C.

Over the years, Washington D.C. has had one of the largest increases in South Asians. So much so that they have taken the #3 spot from Los Angeles. D.C. has attracted many South Asians due to the universities and professional opportunities offered in the city. D.C. was compared to New York and Northern California by Amanjot Singh, An associate from the South Asian Bar Association of Washington, D.C. He said that “The most opportunities are here. You want to go where you have the most opportunities to make money and have a career.” Most of the South Asian residents can be found in Ward 2 (Pennsylvania Ave NW & 15th St NW) and Ward 3 (3101 Wisconsin Ave NW). If this current immigration trend continues, we will be looking at many more residents in the United States capital.


Los Angeles

In California, Los Angeles has the most amount of South Asians with a whopping estimated total of 130,000 people. With approximately 100,000 people of Indian descent, you know there would be pockets of amazing restaurants and South Asian culture hubs scattered across the city of angels. One of the best known spots in LA for South Asians is Venice and Washington Boulevard near Culver City. According to a Los Angeles Times article, there are around 12,000 South Asian residents living in the surrounding neighborhoods. These residents are primarily UCLA students or tech employees working at Westside start-ups or larger corporations like Sony. The area experienced a growth of over 400% since the 80s and the number continues to grow every year. This led to the opening of Samosa House on Washington Boulevard and we can all be thankful for that. Definitely a must visit for anyone visiting the area!


A notable mention for those interested in a more Sri Lankan specific area is the San Fernando Valley, particularly in the neighborhoods of Reseda and Tarzana.


San Francisco

The tech hub being on this lost honestly comes to no surprise. South Asian people are great with tech, love warm (kind of) weather, and live for a solid education system for their kids. Greater San Francisco, aka the Bay Area is well known for all of these qualities. Majority of the South Asians are located in San Jose, Freemont, and the Silicon Valley area primarily due to tech companies surrounding those areas. The South Asian population has grown over 70% in the last two decades. Specific examples are the Nepalese population (155,573), which experienced 200% growth since 2010 and the Burmese population (153,262) experiencing 68% since the same time period. Notably, the Bangladeshi population (175,592) has experienced a 36% increase in population, according to a data compiled on aapidata.com.