Demographic Information

Nearly 5.4 million South Asians live in the United States. The South Asian community in the United States comprises of individuals with ancestry from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. The community also includes members of the South Asian diaspora – past generations of South Asians who originally settled in many areas around the world, including the Caribbean (Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago), Africa (Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda), Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands (Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore).

The community is far from homogeneous; South Asians are not only diverse in terms of national origin, but also by virtue of possessing a variety of ethnic, religious, and linguistic characteristics. The community is comprised of individuals who practice distinct religions and speak different languages, yet share similar immigration histories. For example, South Asians practice Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism. The most common languages other than English spoken by South Asians in the United States include Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu.

South Asians are also diverse in terms immigration and socioeconomic status. The majority of South Asians who live in the United States are foreign-born, with over 75% of the population born outside of the United States. South Asians possess a range of immigration statuses including undocumented immigrants; student and worker visa holders and their dependents; legal permanent residents; and naturalized citizens. With respect to employment, many South Asians have careers in the technology and medical fields; many within the community are also employed in lower-wage jobs as cashiers, taxi workers, and restaurant workers.

Read the Demographic Snapshot of South Asians in the United States (2019) for details on population growth, immigration status, detention and poverty levels, hate violence, and electoral growth.