Louisiana - Ethnic groups

Louisiana, most notably the Delta region, is an enclave of ethnic heterogeneity in the South. At the end of World War II, the established population of the Delta, according to descent, included blacks, French, Spanish (among them Central and South Americans and Islenos, Spanish-speaking migrants from the Canary Islands), Filipinos, Italians, Chinese, American Indians, and numerous other groups.

Blacks made up about 32.5% of the population in 2000 (the 2nd-highest percentage among the 50 states), and were estimated to number 1,451,944. They include descendants of "free people of color," some of whom were craftsmen and rural property owners before the Civil War (a few were slaveholding plantation owners). Many of these, of mixed blood, are referred to locally as "colored Creoles" and have constituted a black elite in both urban and rural Louisiana. The black population of New Orleans constituted 67.3% of the city's residents in 2000; New Orleans elected its first black mayor, Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial, in 1977.

Two groups that have been highly identified with the culture of Louisiana are Creoles and Acadians (also called Cajuns). Both descend primarily from early French immigrants to the state, but the Cajuns trace their origins from the mainly rural people exiled from Acadia (Nova Scotia) in the 1740s, while the Creoles tend to be city people from France and, to a lesser extent, from Nova Scotia or Hispaniola. (The term "Creole" also applies to the relatively few early Spanish settlers and their descendants.)

Although Acadians have intermingled with Spaniards and Germans, they still speak a French patois and retain a distinctive culture and cuisine. In 2000, 179,739 residents claimed Acadian/Cajun ancestry. In 2000, 107,738, or 2.4% of the population, were Hispanic or Latino.

At the time of the 2000 census, 115,885 Louisianians (2.6% of the population) were foreign born. France, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom provided Louisiana with the largest ancestry groups. As of 2000, there were 25,477 American Indians in Louisiana, along with 54,758 and Asians, including 24,358 Vietnamese. Pacific Islanders numbered 1,240.

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