Minnesota was settled during the second half of the 19th century, primarily by European immigrants, chiefly Germans, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, English, and Poles, along with the Irish and some French Canadians. The Swedish newcomers were mainly farmers; Norwegians concentrated on lumbering while the Swiss worked for the most part in the dairy industry. In 1890, Finns and Slavs were recruited to work in the iron mines; the state's meat-packing plants brought in Balkan nationals, Mexicans, and Poles after the turn of the century. By 1930, 50% of the population was foreign-born. Among first- and second-generation Minnesotans of European origin, Germans and Scandinavians are still the largest groups. The state has more ethnic Norwegians than any other, and is 2nd in number of ethnic Swedes, behind California. The other ethnic groups are concentrated in Minneapolis–St. Paul or in the iron country of the Mesabi Range, where ethnic enclaves still persist. As of 2000, foreign-born residents of Minnesota numbered 260,463, or 5.3% of the state total, up from 113,039 (2.5%) in 1990.
As of 2000 there were 54,967 American Indians in Minnesota, with 35,282 living on 13 of the state's 14 Indian reservations (one was unpopulated). Besides those living on reservations and in villages, a cluster of Indian urban dwellers (chiefly Ojibwa) lived in St. Paul. The reservation with the largest 2000 population was Leech Lake, with 10,205 people. Other reservations included Fond du Lac (3,728) and Mille Lacs (4,704). Indian lands totaled 764,000 acres (309,000 hectares) in 1982, of which 93% were tribal lands.
There were only 39 black Americans in Minnesota in 1850; by 1990, blacks numbered 95,000, or 2.1% of the total population, and as of 2000, the black population had jumped to 171,731 (3.5%). In 2000 there were 141,968 Asian and Pacific residents, including 41,800 Hmong (2nd-largest total in the US), 18,824 Vietnamese, 16,887 Asian Indians, 16,060 Chinese, 12,584 Koreans, and 9,940 Laotians. In 2000, Pacific Islanders numbered 1,979. In 2000, there also were 143,382 Hispanics and Latinos, 2.9% of the state population.