Ohio was first settled by migrants from the eastern states and from the British Isles and northern Europe, especially Germany. Cincinnati had such a large German population that its public schools were bilingual until World War I. With the coming of the railroads and the development of industry, Slavic and other south Europeans were recruited in large numbers.
By 2000, however, only about 3% of Ohioans were foreign born, the major places of origin being Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Ethnic clusters persist in the large cities, and some small communities retain a specific ethnic flavor, such as Fairport Harbor on Lake Erie, with its large Finnish population.
As of 2000 there were 1,301,307 blacks, representing 11.5% of the population. Most lived in the larger cities, especially Cleveland, which in 2000 had a black population of 243,939, or 51.0% of the city total. Historically, Ohio was very active in the antislavery movement. Oberlin College, established in 1833 by dissident theological students, admitted blacks from its founding and maintained a "station" on the Underground Railroad. Cleveland elected its first black mayor, Carl B. Stokes, in 1967.
Some 217,123 people in Ohio (1.9% of the total population) were Hispanic or Latino in 2000, up from 140,000 in 1990. The largest number (90,663) were of Mexican descent, but there were also many Puerto Ricans. In 2000, American Indians numbered about 24,486. In 2000, Asians were estimated to number 132,633, including 30,425 Chinese (up from 16,829 in 1990), 12,393 Filipinos, 10,732 Japanese, and 13,376 Koreans. Pacific Islanders numbered 2,749.
Except for small Iroquoian groups like the Erie and Seneca, most of the Indian population before white settlement comprised four Algonkian tribes: Delaware, Miami, Wyandot, and Shawnee. Indian place-names include Ohio, Coshocton, Cuyahoga, and Wapakoneta.