Ethnic groups

Early industrialization helped make Massachusetts a mecca for many European migrants, particularly the Irish. As late as 1990 more than half of the population identified with at least one single ancestry group. As of 2000 the largest were the Irish (22.5% of the population), Italian (13.5%), English (11.4%), French (8%), Polish (5.1%), and Portuguese (4.4%). In that year, the foreign born numbered 772,983, or 12.2% of the state's population.

Massachusetts has always had a black population, and has contributed such distinguished figures as poet Phillis Wheatley and NAACP founder W.E.B. DuBois (the first black Ph.D. from Harvard) to US cultural and public life. A sizable class of black professionals has developed, and the 20th century has seen an influx of working-class blacks from southern states. In 2000 there were 343,454 black Americans in Massachusetts, 5.4% of the population. Blacks constituted more than 25% of Boston's population.The state also had 428,729 Hispanics and Latinos in 2000, predominantly Puerto Rican and Dominican.

Greater Boston has a small, well-organized Chinatown; in the suburbs reside many Chinese professionals and businesspeople, as well as those connected with the region's numerous educational institutions. Statewide, there were 84,392 Chinese in 2000 (up from 47,245 in 1990), 33,962 Vietnamese (up from 13,101 in 1990), 19,696 Cambodians, 17,369 Koreans, and 10,539 Japanese. In 2000, the total Asian population was estimated at 238,124, and the Native American population (including Eskimos and Aleuts) totaled an estimated 15,015. Pacific Islanders numbered 2,489. Cape Cod has settlements of Portuguese fishermen, as has New Bedford.