E.g., 12/18/2014
E.g., 12/18/2014

The African Foreign Born in the United States

Adjust Font    |    Print    |    RSS    |    Reprint Permission

The African Foreign Born in the United States

Source Spotlights are often updated as new data become available. Please click here to find the most recent version of this Spotlight.

The African foreign-born population in the United States is small but growing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were approximately 364,000 African immigrants in 1990, and this population more than doubled to over 881,000 by 2000. The most recent estimates put the number of African foreign born at over 1 million. This Spotlight examines some of the key migration characteristics of the foreign born from Africa, using American Community Survey, census, and Department of Homeland Security data.

Click on the bullet points below for more information:



There are over 1 million African foreign born in the United States.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (see related article), there were 1.0 million African foreign born residing in the United States in 2002.

Back to the top

The African foreign born make up 3 percent of the total foreign-born population.

Of the 33.0 million foreign born in the United States in 2002, 1.0 million or 3 percent were from Africa.

Back to the top

Box 1. Regions of Africa
Eastern Africa includes the countries of Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Réunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Middle Africa includes the countries of Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe.

Northern Africa includes the countries of Algeria, Egypt, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara.

Southern Africa includes the countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland.

Western Africa includes the countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

The largest group of African foreign born in the United States, by region of Africa, is made up of people from Western Africa.

Of the 1.0 million African foreign born, 35 percent were from Western Africa, followed by 26 percent from Eastern Africa, 20 percent from Northern Africa, 7 percent from Southern Africa, and less than 3 percent from Middle Africa, according to the 2002 American Community Survey (see Table 1 and Box 1).

Back to the top

There are over 100,000 foreign born from both Nigeria and Egypt.

The American Community Survey publishes a limited amount of country-specific data on the foreign born from Africa. In 2002, there were approximately 139,500 Nigerians and 108,000 Egyptians, followed by 87,500 Ethiopians, and 70,000 South Africans (see Table 1).

Back to the top

Only one in every three African immigrants is a naturalized citizen.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 34 percent of all African foreign born were naturalized citizens in 2002, while 66 percent were non-citizens.

Back to the top

Over half of all African immigrants are recent arrivals.

According to the results of Census 2000, 56 percent of all African foreign born arrived in the United States between 1990 and 2000, while 26 percent entered between 1980 and 1989, and 18 percent before 1980.

 

Table 1.

The African Foreign Born, by Region and Country of Birth in Africa, for the United States: 2002
Region/country
Number
Percent
Africa
1,013,880
100.0
Eastern Africa
263,415
26.0
Ethiopia
87,543
8.6
Other Eastern Africa
175,872
17.3
Middle Africa
23,993
2.4
Northern Africa
204,728
20.2
Egypt
108,371
10.7
Other Northern Africa
96,357
9.5
Southern Africa
71,883
7.1
South Africa
70,275
6.9
Other Southern Africa
1,608
0.2
Western Africa
357,360
35.2
Nigeria
139,493
13.8
Other Western Africa
217,867
21.5
Africa (not elsewhere classified)
92,501
9.1

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2002

Back to the top

The African foreign born represented about 6 percent of all immigrants who obtained legal permanent residence in 2002.

According to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics, 60,269 immigrants from Africa obtained legal permanent residence status in 2002, which represented 5.7 percent of the 1.1 million immigrants from around the world who obtained legal permanent residency.

Back to the top

The African countries with the highest numbers of immigrants obtaining legal permanent residency in 2002 were Nigeria and Ethiopia.

In 2002, 8,129 immigrants from Nigeria obtained permanent resident status, followed by Ethiopia with 7,574, Egypt with 4,875, Somalia with 4,537, and Ghana with 4,256, according to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics.

Back to the top

Of the 69,000 refugee arrivals in 2001, 28 percent were from Africa.

In 2001, there were 68,925 refugee arrivals to the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics. Of those, 19,070 or 28 percent were from Africa.

Back to the top

Most of the African refugee arrivals in 2001 were from Sudan and Somalia.

In 2001, of the 19,070 refugee arrivals from Africa, 31 percent were from Sudan, 26 percent from Somalia, 18 percent from Liberia, and 11 percent from Sierra Leone.