0.2% of the total U.S. population (2018)
1,225,195 alone or in combination
0.4% of the total U.S. population (2010 Census)
|Regions with significant populations|
| American Samoa, Guam,|
Northern Mariana Islands,
California, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, New York,
|American English, Polynesian languages, Micronesian languages|
|Christianity, Polytheism, Bahá'í, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Druze|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Pacific Islanders, Austronesians|
Pacific Islander Americans (also known as Oceanian Americans) are Americans who are of Pacific Islander ancestry (or are descendants of the indigenous peoples of Oceania). For its purposes, the U.S. Census also counts Indigenous Australians as part of this group.
Pacific Islander Americans make up 0.5% of the U.S. population including those with partial Pacific Islander ancestry, enumerating about 1.4 million people. The largest ethnic subgroups of Pacific Islander Americans are Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Chamorros, Fijians, Palauans and Tongans.
Migration from Oceania to the United States began in the last decade of the eighteenth century, but the first migrants to arrive in this country were natives of Hawaii. People from other Oceanian backgrounds (except Australians and New Zealanders) did not migrate to the United States until late nineteenth century. The first native Hawaiians to live in the United States were fur traders. They were hired by British fur traders in Hawaii and taken to the northwestern United States, from where developed trade networks with Honolulu. However, they charged less than Americans for doing the same jobs and returned to Hawaii when their contracts ended. The first Native Hawaiians to live permanently in the United States settled in the Astoria Colony (in the present-day Oregon) in 1811, having been brought there by its founder, fur merchant John Jacob Astor. Astor created the Pacific Fur Company in the colony and used the native Hawaiians to build the city's infrastructure and houses and to work in the primary sector (agriculture, hunting and fishing) to make them serve the company (although later, most of them worked for North West Company when this company absorbed the Pacific Fur Company in 1813).
After 1813, Native Hawaiians continued to migrate to the Pacific Northwest to work for other companies, such as the Hudson Bay Company (which absorbed the North West Company in 1821) and the Columbia Fishing and Trading Company, as well as in Christian missions. However, another groups arrived on California's shores in the 30s and 40s of the aforementioned century, where they were traders and formed great communities (they made up 10 percent of the population of Yerba Buena, today San Francisco, in 1847). During the California Gold Rush, many other native Hawaiians migrated to California to work as miners.
In 1889 the first Polynesian mormon colony was founded in Utah and consisted in Hawaiian natives, Tahitians, Samoans and Maori people.  Also in the late nineteenth century small groups of Pacific Islanders, usually sailors, moved to the western shores, mainly on San Francisco. Later, the US occupied Hawaii in 1896, Guam in 1898 and American Samoa in 1900. This fact diversified Oceanian emigration in the United States.
The first record of non-Hawaiian Pacific Islanders in the United States is from 1910, with the first Guamanians living in the United States. In the following decades small groups of people from islands such as Hawaii, Guam, Tonga or American Samoa emigrated to the United States, but many of them were Mormons (including most of Tongans and American Samoans), who emigrated to help build Mormon churches, or look for an education, either in Laie or Salt Lake City. However, the emigration of Pacific Islanders to the US was small until the end of World War II, when many American Samoans, Guamanians (who got the American citizenship in 1929) and Tongans (who looked for a job in several religious and cultural centers) emigrated to the USA. Most of them were in the military or married with military people (except Tongans). Since then the emigration increased and diversified every decade, with a majority emigrating to the Western urban areas and Hawaii.
This increase and diversification in the Oceanian emigration was specially true in the 50's. In 1950 the population of Guam gained the full American citizenship, and in 1952 the natives of American Samoan become U.S. nationals, although not American citizens, through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. So, the first major non-military migration waves from American Samoa and Guam emerged, while other groups of places such as French Polynesia, Palau or Fiji began to emigrate. Over 5,100 Pacific Islander emigrated to the United States in the 50s, mostly from American Samoa (although the first of them were military personnel), Guam, and Tonga. Many of them emigrated to the United States seeking economic opportunities.
In 1959 Hawaii became a US state, which dramatically strengthened the indigenous population of Oceania in the US. In the 60s many more Pacific Islanders emigrated to the US, especially due to increased migration from Guam (whose natives were fleeing the Korean War and the Typhoon Karen), Fiji (whose migrants increased dramatically, from a few dozen to over 400 immigrants), Tonga and Samoa archipelago (including independent Samoa). This migration increased especially since 1965, when the US government facilitated the non-European migration to the USA. Many of them were recruited to pick fruit in California.
In the 70s over two thousand Pacific Islanders migrated to the US, mostly from American Samoa, Guam, Tonga and Fiji, but also from other islands such as Federated States of Micronesia or Palau. Many of these people emigrated to the US to study at its universities.  In addition, in the 1980s (specifically in 1986), migration from the Pacific Islands to the United States become more diversified when this country acquired the Northern Marianas Islands and created an agreement with the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (FSM, Palau and the Marshall Islands) called the Compact of Free Association, which allows its inhabitants to travel and work in the United States without visas.[note 1] So the Tyson Foods company (which employed a significant part of the population of the Marshall Islands) relocated many of its Marshellese employees in Springdale, Arkansas, where the company is based. However, most of Pacific Islanders continued to migrate to western urban areas and Hawaii. More of five thousand Pacific Islanders migrated to the United States in the 90's, settling mostly in western cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, or Salt Lake City, and several thousands more emigrated in the 2000's and 2010's.
In the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census, the term "Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander" refers to people having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand and the Marshalls or other Pacific Islands. Most of the Pacific Islander Americans are of Native Hawaiian, Samoan and Chamorro origins.
The fact that Hawaii is a US state (which means that almost the entire native Hawaiian population lives in the US), as well as the migration, natality and miscegenation of the Pacific Islanders have favoured the permanence and increase of this population in the USA (especially in the number of people who are of partially Pacific Islanders descent). So in the 2000 census over 800,000 people claimed be of Pacific Islander descent and already in the 2010 census 1,225,195 Americans claimed "'Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander'" as their race alone or in combination. Most of them live in Hawaii, the northwestern coasts and the Southwest. So most of Pacific Islander Americans live only in two states: Hawaii and California, but they also have sizeable populations in Washington, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Florida, Arizona and New York. However, Pacific Islanders are scattered across the country. On the other hand, Pacific Islander Americans are majority (or are the main ethnic group) in American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, from where many of them are natives. Most of Pacific Islanders live in urban areas.
|Ancestry||2000||2000 % of Pacific Islander American population||2010||2010 % of Pacific Islander American population|
|"Micronesian" (not specified)||9,940||1.1%||29,112||2.4%|
|Polynesians with New Zealand citizenship (M?ori, Tokelauans, Niueans, Cook Islanders)||2,422 (M?ori: 1,994; Tokelauans: 574)||0.3%||925 (Tokelauans only)||0.1%|
|Chamorro||93,237 (Guamanian or Chamorro: 92,611; Saipanese: 475; Mariana Islander: 141)||10.7%||148,220 (Guamanian or Chamorro: 147,798; Saipanese: 1,031; Mariana Islander: 391)||12.2%|
|"Polynesian" (not specified)||8,796||1.0%||9,153||0.7%|
(2010 US Census)
|Pacific Islander Americans
alone or in combination
(2010 US Census)
Americans alone)[note 2]
|District of Columbia||770||1,514||-|
|Guam||78,582 ||90,238 ||49.3%|
|Northern Mariana Islands||18,800 ||24,891 ||34.9%|
|Puerto Rico||370 ||555||0.0%|
|Virgin Islands (U.S.)||16 ||212||0.0%|
According to the 2010 census, the largest Chamoru populations were located in California, Washington and Texas, but their combined number from these three states totaled less than half the number living throughout the U.S. It also revealed that the Chamoru people are the most geographically dispersed Oceanic ethnicity in the country.
Because of the Marshall Islands entering the Compact of Free Association in 1986, Marshallese have been allowed to migrate and work in the United States. There are many reasons why Marshallese came to the United States. Some Marshallese came for educational opportunities, particularly for their children. Others sought work or better health care than what is available in the islands. Massive layoffs by the Marshallese government in 2000 led to a second big wave of immigration.
Arkansas has the largest Marshallese population with over 6,000 residents. Many live in Springdale, and the Marshallese comprise over 5% of the city's population. Other significant Marshallese populations include Spokane and Costa Mesa.
Large subcategories of Polynesian Americans include Native Hawaiians and Samoan Americans. In addition there are smaller communities of Tongan Americans (see Culture and diaspora of Tonga), French Polynesian Americans, and M?ori Americans.
A Samoan American is an American who is of ethnic Samoan descent from either the independent nation Samoa or the American territory of American Samoa. Samoan American is a subcategory of Polynesian American. About 55,000 people live on American Samoa, while the US census in 2000 and 2008 has found 4 times the number of Samoan Americans live in the mainland USA.
California has the most Samoans; concentrations live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County. San Francisco has approximately 2,000 people of Samoan ancestry, and other Bay Area cities such as East Palo Alto and Daly City have Samoan communities. In Los Angeles County, Long Beach and Carson have abundant Samoan communities, as well as in Oceanside in San Diego County. Other West Coast metropolitan areas such as Seattle have strong Samoan communities, mainly in King County and in Tacoma. Anchorage, Alaska, and Honolulu, Hawaii, both have thousands of Samoan Americans residing in each city.
Persons born in American Samoa are United States nationals, but not United States citizens.  (This is the only circumstance under which an individual would be one and not the other.) For this reason, Samoans can move to Hawaii or the mainland United States and obtain citizenship comparatively easily. Like Hawaiian Americans, the Samoans arrived in the mainland in the 20th century as agricultural laborers and factory workers.
A Tongan American is an American who is of ethnic Tongan descent. Utah has the largest Tongan American population and Hawaii has the second largest. Many of the first Tongan Americans came to the United States in connection to the LDS Church.
Based on 2003 recruiting data, Pacific Islander Americans were 249% over-represented in the military.
American Samoans are distinguished among the wider Pacific Islander group for enthusiasm for enlistment. In 2007, a Chicago Tribune reporter covering the island's military service noted, "American Samoa is one of the few places in the nation where military recruiters not only meet their enlistment quotas but soundly exceed them." As of 23 March 2009 there have been 10 American Samoans who have died in Iraq, and 2 who have died in Afghanistan.